Food and Leisure

Ruby Jack’s philosophy of steak

Therese Jamora-Garceau, Scott R. Garceau - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – When it comes to steak, most people take the “Goldilocks” approach: some like it soft, like melt-in-the-mouth Wagyu; some like a lot more bite to their meat. Some like it rare and bloody; some like it sizzling and well-done. Whatever your choice of prime cuts of steak, Ruby Jack’s at City of Dreams has you covered.

The Tokyo steakhouse franchise made its first Manila appearance at City of Dreams a month back, and prides itself on the best cuts of beef and the best-cooked steaks (that part is down to its Canadian head chef Eric Turgeon, who says he uses a thermometer to make sure that medium-rare is always cooked to a perfect 70oC).

First of all, they only feature the best beef from Australia, the US and Japan. You’ll find A5 Wagyu, USDA prime, as well as tomahawk or gold black Angus from John Dee, a very small Aussie farm that caters exclusively to Australia, Japan — and by extension, Manila.

Frederick Siy, president of the Japan-imported steakhouse, likes to consider every customer’s taste at Ruby Jack’s, and the menu comes equipped with cuts of steak from the best producers in the world.

Indeed, Ruby Jack’s has imported much more than just the jazzy high-end interiors, the long leather upholstered banquette and Cattelan Italia Margot chairs: it’s a philosophy of steak, one shared by chef Turgeon: “It’s pretty much straightforward flavors there,” he reports, after a week training in Tokyo. “Not too much salt or sweetness. It’s very strict ingredients, you can actually taste what a tomato or beef tastes like without too much salt or pepper on it. Other steakhouses, you finish it with butter or cream, etc. Here, it’s very strict: just the flavor of the steak only. Very light salt, a little olive oil.”

In a steakhouse that takes its meat this seriously you’d expect the other food groups would be an afterthought, but Ruby Jack’s serves excellent food across the board: fabulously fresh seafood, like oysters flown in from Tasmania; perfectly cooked vegetables, the majority of which come from Baguio; expertly baked bread; and thoughtfully light and refreshing desserts concocted by Pinay pastry chef Christine de Leon.

Ruby Jack’s is so adamant on the excellence of its produce that it flies in its tomatoes all way from Fukuoka, Japan, to star in its boutique tomato salad served with shaved red onion and gorgonzola. The experience is well worth it: the ruby-red fruit are as sweet as the best tomatoes we had in Italy.

Other magical starters include the lobster mac and cheese and sizzling scallops with black garlic, butter and lemon.

Then there’s the steak. The top of the line — the one people phone ahead for — is the John Dee Super Gold Black Angus T-Bone. It’s done how you like it, though chef Turgeon always recommends medium-rare for steak.

And the Super Gold Black Angus? “It’s fantastic,” says Diy. “Our top seller, and it’s very limited.” At P5,000 per kilo, it would be.

So what is the ultimate Ruby Jack’s experience? According to the chef, “You need to have the boutique tomato salad, imported from Japan, very sweet. Then the Caesar salad, it’s a classic in a steakhouse, you need to have a good Caesar salad.” Turgeon added a French onion soup, also a steakhouse classic, though Japan does not feature it. “Then you need to have a T-bone. Everybody loves that here — a little bit of tenderloin and striploin in the T-bone. Then try the John Dee rib eye. Then the dry-aged beef: T-bone aged for 30 days and prime rib for 45 days.”

Diy has his own philosophy when it comes to steak: “I think you can have too much of a good thing: when the Japanese Wagyu is too marbled, you just can’t eat it, it’s like eating foie gras steak.”

For first timers to Ruby Jack’s, he recommends ordering the Saga meat (a really marbled Japanese Wagyu), which everybody can taste, “then, to satisfy everyone, you can have one of our thick-cut, beefier, meatier steaks.”

Chef Turgeon confirms that you can bring the steakhouse out of Tokyo, but you can’t turn Filipinos into Japanese: they still go for rice and family-style dining at Ruby Jack’s. “A lot of Filipinos or Chinese-Filipino like family-style: a big piece of meat at the center, sliced, and sharing it. The Japanese are more about all having their own plate.”

Other modifications are The Cigar Room (a closed-off space featuring fine Cuban and Dominican stogies) suggested by one of the Manila partners. There’s a spectacular horseshoe bar (open till 1 a.m.) and an enclosed wine cellar that features, at the high end, a P325,000 Petrus Pomerol, or perhaps start with a nice 2012 Chilean Escudo Rojo from Baron Philippe de Rothschild, which paired well with our T-bone.

The ambience of Ruby Jack’s suggests a Parisian or Manhattan eatery as much as a Japanese steakhouse: vaulted ceilings, floor-length mirrors for its 118-seating floor and a grand chiller facing the restaurant level of City of Dreams. “That’s not just display, that’s what we use every single day,” says Turgeon. “We keep about 80 kilos of John Dee beef per week.” Unlike most Manila restaurants and hotels, which Siy claims freeze their steaks, Ruby Jack’s only chills its beef. The oysters, too, are carefully nurtured in a semi-hibernation state — after being flown in chilled from Australia — in a P1 million aquarium.



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Call Ruby Jack's for reservations at 801-8888, email contact_cod@rubyjacks.ph or visit www.rubyjacks.ph

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