As a city professional, I am always in search for establishments suitable for a business lunch in the Sydney CBD. The criteria I’m looking for is a discreet destination to eat while schmoozing and scheming that deal. Chophouse, a New York styled steakhouse on Bligh Street is a rustic yet classy establishment for clinching deals or nailing ideas on new business ventures over juicy red meat and red wine.
|Chophouse during a Friday lunch|
|Chophouse's rib-like interiors: Like dining inside a cow.|
Interview with Head Chef, Scott Kim
I was lucky to catch up with Head Chef, Scott Kim for a chat just before the establishment got busy preparing for its Friday lunches (including mine).
Inspiration of becoming a chef and cooking style
Scott Kim always loved to cook but never thought of becoming a chef would be his career. He enrolled into a hospitality course at university and found himself doing most of the cooking at friends and family places. Two years into his university course, it dawned upon him that he should become a chef. Scott Kim was destined to cook. He has been at Chophouse for six years and prior to that, Kingsleys.
“My mother was my inspiration. She’s a very good cook” says Scott Kim, who was influenced by Korean cuisine, from his mother’s cooking in his early years. Korean cuisine is largely based on rice, vegetables and meats, and it is obvious where the love of cooking a great steak comes from.
Chophouse inspired by the great steakhouses around the world
Chophouse is influenced by the New York steakhouses in America. You will notice on the Chophouse menu the Dry Aged Delmonico. The name of this steak is derived from the name of a restaurant opened in Manhattan in 1837 called Delmonico Restaurant, self-proclaimed as ‘America’s first fine dining restaurant’, and one of its signature dishes was a cut from the short loin that was called the Delmonico steak. Due to its association with the city, it has since been referred to as a New York strip.
What are the different types of steaks you can have and how do you choose from the menu?
The Dry Aged Delmonico, Scott Kim says, is for those steak connoisseurs who have tried all the types of steaks out there. It’s a different type of steak as it has already gone through a drying process a bit like semi dried tomatoes, as it was explained to me. The dry aging process slowly develops the flavour and the tenderness of the beef. A crust forms on the outside of the loin and is trimmed away, leaving a buttery taste and nutty aroma. The Dry Aged Delmonico is best served medium rare.
The type of meat influences whether it should be cooked medium rare, medium or well done. As noted above, the Delmonico is best medium rare because of the dry aging process. If you like your meat medium, or medium well done then other types of meat on the menu would be suitable such as the Wagyu rump cap and the other pasture and grain fed steaks.
The menu has a selection of beef sourced around Australia:
Pasture or grassfed beef. This is essentially beef that has been fed grass and leaves a slight acidic after taste in your palette (bit like the residual smell of grass after you have mowed the lawn).
Grain fed beef. The beef is from the cattle raised on grain feeds giving beef a bit more bulk than pasture fed cattle.
Wagyu. This is essentially a breed of cattle with marbling, a fine fat (good fat) contained within the muscle and it is the marbling that gives the wagyu beef its unsurpassed taste, texture and tenderness.
Source of produce for the Chophouse menu
All produce for the Chophouse menu is locally sourced. You will see on the menu where a particular type of steak is from, all hand selected from the local suppliers. Chophouse acknowledges the importance of knowing where the food comes from.
Tips of cooking a good steak
The art of cooking a good steak in Chophouse lies in the Montague Broiler (which the Chophouse kitchen team nickname, ‘George’). Broiling is a heat method where the heat source from grilling comes from above, ensuring the meat better retains its moisture and flavour, ensuring your steak comes out guaranteed to be tender and juicy.
So I asked Scott Kim, what if I don’t have a broiler at home and wanted to cook a good steak. What tips could he offer? Scott Kim said the secret to cooking a good steak is allowing the steak to rest after it is cooked. If a steak has been grilled for 10 minutes, then it should be rested for 10 minutes. I then questioned, if you leave it that long, wouldn’t the steak cool off? Scott advises to reheat it gently after it has rested but it is important to let the meat rest. As meat is cooked the proteins in the meat heat up and set. When the proteins set they push the meat’s juices towards the centre of the meat. Allowing the meat to stand away from the heat before serving allows the juices, which have been driven to the centre of the meat to redistribute throughout the meat and be reabsorbed. As a result the meat will lose less juice when you cut it and be far more tender and juicy to eat.
|Chophouse's Head Chef, Scott Kim with the Dry Aged Delmonico steak cut|
Location and Ambience
The interiors of Chophouse are rustic, dim, romantic, capturing an elusive charm. Scott Kim pointed out to me that if you look above at the ceiling, the symmetrical beams above resemble ribs, creating an atmosphere as if you are dining inside the ribs of a cow. It was also pointed out to me that the location of Chophouse use to be a cinema (focusing on films on the naughty side of the spectrum). The evidence is the space carved above the establishment that once housed the cinema projectors. Function rooms for large groups are located upstairs with a similar rustic appeal with its well-worn wooden floors.
|Top left: Chophouse's Head Chef Scott Kim next to the Montague Broiler, Chophouse's secret weapon.|
Top right: Wagyu Rump Cap, F1 Tajima wagyu, Qld
Bottom: Steamed green beans with herb, roasted garlic butter and shoestring fries
We ordered the masterpiece 200 g Wagyu Rump Cap MB 8+, a ‘F1 Tajima wagyu’ sourced from Queensland, which was served with harissa jus on the side ($39.50). It was nicely grilled, medium done, juicy and tender enough that your knife sinks right through.
We also ordered sides of steam green beans with herb roasted garlic butter ($9.20) and the shoestring fries ($9) which were sublime.
For dessert we had the New York baked triple chocolate cheesecake with white chocolate mousse ($11.90), a chocoholic’s delight. The white chocolate mousse was soft and frothy like, a good light-shade contrast to the rich chocolate cheesecake. We were also served the Chophouse special chocolate bar which was simply to die for - smooth and melts in your mouth.
After all this food, we were rolling out and found it hard to go back to work on a Friday afternoon.
|Bottom left: New York baked triple chocolate cheesecake with white chocolate mousse|
Bottom right: Chophouse chocolate bar
The service was flawless and our waitstaff had attention to the smallest detail. She ran through the specials without missing a beat and the explanation of the different types of steaks was succinctly said.
To fulfil anyone’s most carnivorous desires, the Chophouse will have you salivating. It had us going…so much so that I forgot to take photos of the starters for this article. Chophouse, with its signature steak dishes are most tender and juicy, and a perfect lunch spot in Sydney CBD if you're looking for high-class charm and highly-polished service.
|Chophouse's charming rustic table setting|