Contrasts abound in life. For instance, if we take it to a culinary level, ordinary beef is not too expensive and a great steak is not cheap. We cook ordinary beef into the usual, great-tasting beef dishes. We’d probably notice almost no difference if we use expensive beef for those dishes.
This is the reason why I can’t seem to understand why people would order a P2,500-worth Premium Tenderloin Steak at House of Wagyu Stone Grill, and have it well done. There’s so much flavor and juice lost to the elements, not the taste bud. Poof! Value, gone. To partake of the essence of high value steak, in my book, is to enjoy it rare (or at least medium rare). But that’s just my opinion and I could very well be wrong.
Steak cooked rare is slightly seared, only a few seconds on the grill. Grey-brown outside, red and bloody inside. That sounds (and would appear) unappealing, but appearances, we’re often told, can be deceiving.
Achieving that would be easy if done by a professional and experienced chef. How would a casual lover of steak know how to achieve medium rare? Stone Grill doesn’t give a lecture on how to cook your steak well done, medium rare or however you want it. The method is uniform — give the tools for guests to cook their own steak. The first thing served on the table is, of course, bread. The soup or salad, depending if you’ve ordered one, came next, though I’m not really sure if the “apron” came earlier (not sure how to call it — it looks pretty much like an apron, to protect the clothes from the oil and other sprinkles from the sizzling steak). Then they served a super heated, rectangular, around one-and-a-half inch slab of volcanic rock reportedly imported from Italy’s Mt. Vesuvius.
Of course you know Mt. Vesuvius. Pompeii? Does it ring a bell? The explosion of Vesuvius volcano buried the Roman town of Pompeii, pretty much like what happened to Cagsawa when it was covered by Mt. Mayon. Some say the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii is the gods’ way of punishing the town for its hedonistic and extravagant ways. There’s got to be a perfect explanation why Stone Grill chose Mt. Vesuvius as the source of its stones, but we hope enjoying a steak from time to time is not considered extravagant and we’re not offending the gods in any way whatsoever.
The stone slab actually serves a good purpose. There’s no need to bring in the grill or flame source to the table, like what’s done in hotpot or shabu-shabu. It’s just you, the hot stone slab and the steak. The guest controls how long and how well the steak is cooked. There’s no lag time between taking off the steak from the slab and into your mouth. No need to plate the steak, have the waiter take it from the kitchen to the table and serve it. The precious minute or two for the steak to arrive at the table would allow the remaining heat to cook the steak further.
My steak went on the hot stone slab for less than 10 seconds. Slicing it on the stone, which you could actually do while eating, would result to a well done steak. That won’t cut it for me (pun intended). So I ordered a separate plate, removed the steak from the slab, and ate it fast.
The steak, rare, tastes heavenly. It’s nice to chew on a beautifully-aged slice, just salt and pepper to taste, while soaking the quite and warm atmosphere of the restaurant. The service, as expected from this kind of place, was fast and crisp. The place seems to be a favorite family hang-out. It was already 1:00 p.m. and guests kept pouring in. Yet it was still quite and peaceful.