Hong Kong Demon Chef Alvin Leung Opens New Concept Cafe Bau in Wan Chai
Hong Kong Demon Chef Alvin Leung is opening his latest restaurant Café Bau in Wan Chai, offering farm-to-table course meals with Hong Kong inspired flavours.
August 16, 2022
Lawry’s The Prime Rib imports a tradition of fine American dining to a culinary space in Hong Kong eager to explore the luxury and striking process of how a prime rib cut of steak should be eaten: paired with a thoughtful selection of great oysters, silky caviar, signature Lawry’s spinning salad, and fresh abalone.
The international prime rib steak brand enters its 16th year in operation in downtown Central, as a venue styled for exuberant American fine dining and the hallmarks of an eminent prime rib steak cut recipe, fit with Americana-inspired trappings and accoutrements indelible to taste.
Nine years after the Beverly Hills-born gourmet steak monopoly saw its penetration in the international market with its Jakarta opening in 1997, Hong Kong ushered in Asia’s fourth Lawry’s The Prime Shop venue, first opening in Hutchinson House on Harcourt Road before a relocation to its current site in The Galleria on Queen’s Road Central.
The venue’s location is premium for an experience dotted away from a manic SoHo, exuding comfort, serenity, and tranquillity rare in Hong Kong dining. Inside, a pair of escalators guides diners through The Galleria, up a gold- and silver-painted revolving staircase, and beneath a curved roof that sees natural light fill the heavy space in the daytime and yellow and blue lights paint elegant shapes that expand the air and dimly lit plates and faces.
Lawry’s Hong Kong follows a comfortable design with its illustrious interior and soothing colour scheme breathed into the seating arrangements. Tall, slender, and velvety red cushioned seats house guests for the duration of a signature culinary experience: homely and well-stated to welcome diners.
Service is one of the best I have personally experienced at a fine-dining restaurant in Hong Kong. We were welcomed with a familiar warmth by the concierge staff, guided to our table with a friendliness ala a long-lost friend, seated and introduced to each menu item in a considered manner, and approached with care at every question we had regarding the menu, courses, or ingredients.
Identical to its sister venues in the United States, Japan, Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan, Lawry’s serves its USDA-certified Black Angus cuts of roasted prime rib beef carved from a tableside silver cart, ornately designed by co-founder Lawrence L. Frank in 1938 to maintain appropriate temperature and maximum comfort for guests.
Lawry’s’ full menu was an initial surprise to my palate, a treat building up excitement and engagement of the culinary flexing the American brand has on creating a comprehensive offering. We began Dinner Set for Two (HK$1,688 pp) dining experience in style, with Russian Caviar sourced from Royal Cristal and Fresh Shucked Oysters (2 pieces) farmed in north-eastern U.S.
Presented decadently atop a towering flat cocktail glass with finely grated ice, the Royal Cristal caviar shines under the dim orange light. With a serving from a waiter of the sturgeon caviar, a careful scooping off my hand released a smoky, creamy, and nutty flavour with a pleasant aftertaste reminiscent of fresh dill, vinegar brine, and the smell of the Black Sea.
For starters, we shared a serving of The Famous Original Spinning Bowl Salad, Lawry’s signature tableside party experience, following the tradition of serving a heaping bowl of crisp romaine, iceberg lettuce, baby spinach, finely chopped beets and eggs, sourdough croutons, with an exclusive sherry Vintage Dressing. The salad is lined with a charming 80-odd-year tradition: served by a waitress in the famous 1950s-esque “brown gown” and spun around in a large ice to freshen the greens.
As decadent as the salad appears in the luxurious presentation, the taste of the salad is bright, light, with a kick of tang covered by the in-house produced Thousand Islands-esque dressing. It is non-offensive and cleanses the palate from the fishy aftertaste of the caviar in preparation for a thick, creamy soup for the next course. I preferred to add Lawry’s Seasoned Salt to raise the earthy and salty profile of the salad for a kick but add at your own discretion.
We chose the Cream of Mushroom for our soup and third course of the night, an appetising and creamy, umami-rich mix of frothy butter, finely diced and minced button mushrooms, sauteed onions, chopped thyme, and hints of black pepper and garlic.
A simple recipe to recall and reproduce, the soup is done by preparing a creamy, mushroom-focused, and umami-dominant bisque to perfection. With added pepper for an earthy kick, the umami of the mushroom lights up your mouth with the powerful meaty flavour of a chicken stock and the woodsy flavour of the stalk mycoprotein.
As for the point culminant of the meal, we enjoyed a lengthy experience tasting the Roasted Prime Rib set with historical introduction and guidance for each item. Lawry’s USDA prime rib is wet-aged and slow-aged as a chunk for a minimum of four hours, served tableside in accordance with guest preference for four cuts of increasing thickness: California Cut, English Cut, Lawry Cut, and Diamond Jim Brady Cut. We had the California Cut, paired with beef au jus, mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and creamed corn and spinach.
Aesthetically speaking, the steak dinner is elegant, bright, and beautiful, with each item more captivating as the next. The creamed corn, cooked in a velvety salty custard, tastes uniquely fresh, with each corn capsule bursting with a sweet juice. The spinach won me over on first bite: it’s addictingly tasteful with rich iron, slightly bitter, and with honey flavours penetrating the salty, creamy texture.
The cured exterior of the slowly cooked prime rib cut reveals a salty, vinegary flavour similar with brisket, instantly salivating and compelling. Selecting a medium rare was a smart decision with each bite pushing a colourful fruity and sodium-packed flavour. Paired with the Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, each bite is elevated with an umami and beef-strong aftertaste.
The intimacy of the Lawry’s experience is second to none with the hand-carved silver tableside cart, allowing us to appreciate the freshness of each steak, the spinning salad bowl demonstration, and the connection with staff and guests. Each menu item was dutifully introduced by Lawry’s educated team of waiters with an apt understanding of the history of ingredients that conversely allowed us to appreciate each taste beyond flavour combinations.
Beyond interactions, the serene comfort instituted in the restaurant exuded a coolness not found in many other diners. The rolling American soundtrack of pop music dating from the 1950s to ‘90s was refreshing to place us in a long-gone era of music with an added authenticity in the experience.
In an overall rating of Lawry’s, I cannot personally fault any aspect of the dining experience. Supreme to the taste of the prime rib cut, the luxury of the creaminess of the vegetable trappings, the exuberance of the salad and beef presentation, each menu item was romantic, traditional, but set Lawry’s in a playing of its own, distinct from other steakhouses and American diners.
A Dinner Set for Two is a monthly treat for a couple or pair of pals, designed to enjoy the true essence of fine dining American-style.
This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by Lawry’s in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.
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