|CUT’s facade – Photo courtesy of CUT|
Since CUT by Wolfgang Puck debuted at Marina Bay Sands (Singapore) in late 2010, tongues have been wagging about how it has swiftly dethroned a then-reigning steak chain, conveniently nicknamed M, as the de rigueur steak house in Singapore.
M was the go-to fine dining venue for plump and premium, if costly, beef cuts; and now there’s CUT – bigger, apparently better and equally pricey.
You don’t need to be reminded of CUT’s draw: Michelin star-wielding celebrity chef who has, at last count, 3 CUT restaurants – and a fourth opening in London soon – in his vast culinary empire that spans multiple concepts and cuisine types including Chinese.
Yes, celebrity chefs draw celebrities and so Tom Cruise, Katie Homes, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw have reportedly been sighted at Puck’s CUT outlet at Beverly Wilshire.
|CUT’s dining room – Photo courtesy of CUT|
Not that I spotted any celebrities this time; not in CUT’s somewhat dim-lit and romantic setting overhung with what seemed like micro bulbs balancing on rows of beams.
|The bar at CUT – Photo courtesy of CUT|
And CUT is hardly the fine dining restaurant that it’s cut out to be. Not if you come expecting starched table linens and a refined air of haughtiness. On the contrary, you dine on rustic placemats amidst a convivial, almost boisterous, crowd (some of whom are chilling out at the bar) – these are, albeit, happy high rollers from the nearby casino and corporate types on expense account. On that note, smart are the foursomes who reserved 1 of the 7 alcoves for privacy.
|Porterhouse steak – Photo courtesy of Marina Bay Sands|
They all come for the same thing: premium cut steaks that will create a dent in their credit cards. There’s American, Australian and Japanese wagyu alongside USDA and Australian Angus varieties; some are corn-fed, others are grain-fed; majority are wet-aged, yet one is dry-aged. And of course, there’s a myriad of cuts including rib eye, fillet mignon and the ever-popular porterhouse but it doesn’t help that some, like the Australian Angus fillet mignon, New York sirloin and rib eye from Rangers Valley are served bone-in and others, without bone. The matrix is mind-blowing, if a little confusing.
But if price is an accurate barometer for quality of flavour, steak connoisseurs should not miss those pink and finely marbled Japanese wagyu from Shiga prefecture, priced from S$210 per 170g slice of New York Sirloin to S$280 for a 230g portion of rib eye steak.
Should you consult the charming and utterly obliging crew led by General Manager, Adam Crocini, they may likely defer you to the trio of tastings of New York sirloin – $225 will buy you 120g of Snake River Farm American ‘Kobe’ style steak, 120g of USDA prime corn-fed beef and 60g of Shiga prefecture Japanese wagyu. But that’s not after a table-side introduction to CUT’s star cuts: the American, Australian and Japanese wagyu.
Now, the steaks: they are all rubbed with a blend of 13 herbs and spices, smoke-grilled with a kiss of apple wood and tossed briefly into a 1,200 degree Fahrenheit broiler for that char effect. Our USDA Prime New York sirloin steak and Snake River Farm American wagyu – also a New York sirloin cut – were both beautifully grilled to reveal a subtle smoky tang, the edges were slightly charred and crunchy while the inside revealed a lovely medium rare pink. The USDA cut had a refined minerality to the chew while the American wagyu oozed a richness coated in umami. Kudos to executive chef, Joshua Brown, for the steaks well done (or rather, medium rare)!
To keep the mains company, pick from a list of more than 10 sides such as creamed spinach with fried organic egg, mac & cheese or potato tart tartin. These sides are charged separately and they do rapidly add to the tab. But here’s a piece of sage advice: if you’re planning on ordering salads and starters – which we suggest that you do – go slow with the sides.
|Maine lobster – Photo courtesy of Marina Bay Sands|
Yes, CUT is not just about fine steaks. It struts its stuff with quite a handful of surprising successes on its salads and starters menu that had us rapt. Two of my personal favourites, a blue fin tuna tartare sandwich and a carpaccio of Hokkaido scallops, are enticingly Japanese-accented – the former is laced with wasabi aioli while the latter is crowned with shaved myoga (Japanese ginger) in a wasabi-spiked ponzu dressing – perfect to go with a heady glass of hand-crafted umami cocktail from the bar. And if you’re out to impress, the gargantuan main of pan-roasted Maine lobster enrobed in a fragrant black truffle sabayon effortlessly passes as a starter for a group of 4.
|Bone marrow flan – Photo courtesy of Marina Bay Sands|
But CUT is not just about high cuisine; there are some exemplary palate openers that will not look out of place in a gastro-bistro. There’s a dish of heirloom tomato wedges with red onion shavings, goat’s cheese, Spanish anchovies and aged balsamic, and a surprise of warm bouillon-braised veal tongue with a riot of micro rocket greens in a shallow bath of salsa verde; and also a custard of bone marrow flan served alongside an addictive mushroom duxelle, both to be layered on warm toasted brioche.
To cut to the chase: we love M, it’s probably still a prime venue for prime steaks. But with Puck’s celebrity-pull and his exciting menu that proffers a discovery of wagyu (and more), CUT is, henceforth, my de facto champion.
CUT | The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Avenue, Suite B1-71 | 65-6688 8517
© Evelyn Chen 2013