The steaks have always been high at CHAR Bar & Grill, Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund. Literally high, with the restaurant located on the 29th floor, and high in quality; this modern, stylish steakhouse having delighted diners with its top grade meats and wisely chosen selection of condiments for the last decade.
From today, under the guidance of Venezuelan Culinary Director Will Colmenares, CHAR is going even higher, introducing a unique (one could say rare) menu featuring Tajima wagyu beef with a marbling score of M9+, and offering all the main cuts: rib eye, striploin, tenderloin fillet, tomahawk and porterhouse – the only steakhouse in the city to do so.
The stunning view down the river from the CHAR terrace.
What is Tajima Wagyu Beef?
The most famous of all wagyu bloodlines, Tajima is one of three blood lines of the black wagyu breed, along with Tedaka and Shimane. The Tajima wagyu on CHAR’s menu is the Pure Tajima breed, raised and slaughtered in Australia, but fed for 500 days on a traditional Japanese-designed diet with a marble score of M9+.
Marbling is the visible form of intramuscular fat which appears as fine flecks within the muscle. Steak lovers will know that the presence of marbling has a very positive effect in the quality of beef in terms of tenderness and flavor. A marbling score of M9+ is the highest grade of wagyu beef in Australia, making this the best on the market.
What a marbling score of M9+ looks like.
Tenderloin, Striploin & Rib Eye
First up, we tried the 500 days+ tenderloin (RMB788 for 180g; RMB888 for 220g) which was so tender our knives hardly needed any contact to cut it. The 500 days+ striploin (RMB1,188 for 350g) had only the tiniest edge on flavor on the 500 days+ rib eye 400g (RMB1,588 for 400g); both cuts were brimming with flavor and particularly complemented by the black hickory smoked sea salt, one of the many extraordinary condiments on offer.
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The porterhouse gives you a taste of both the filet and the striploin: like the filet it racks up points for tenderness; like the striplion it scores greatly with its beefy flavor. If you are with a group of friends and you can’t decide between filet or strip steak, the porterhouse eliminates the need to make a difficult choice.
A porterhouse is basically the same cut as a T-bone steak, but the porterhouse is generally cut thicker and must contain significantly more of the tenderloin filet relative to the loin portion than a T-bone steak.
To share a porterhouse steak with a group of friends is to create an instant and wonderful occasion. The gargantuan 500 days+ porterhouse (RMB2,588 for 1-kilogram) came with a side of pickles and a mushroom sauce.
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The Tajima wagyu MS9 tomahawk (RMB2,588 for 1.2kg) is arguably the most show stopping, limelight stealing cut of all the steaks. To cook it well a kitchen requires knowledge, skill and experience. The marbling of M9+ allowed the steak to be both perfectly cooked and yet keep the tenderness and flavor of the Tajima wagyu beef.
If you like the luscious flavor of steak then the tomahawk is for you. It is essentially a rib eye in bone. The flat surface of the meat allows a constant caramelization when cooking, which was very apparent when we tried it at CHAR. Delicious.
If the porterhouse creates an occasion then the tomahawk steak creates an unforgettable and almost show business-like event. CHAR’s tomahawk is served with two sides from their a la carte menu and sauces, and is best shared between 3-4 people.
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... and after again.
The low lighting, friendly and gracious staff and stunning views all complement what is a unique dining occasion. Any of the steaks, served on heated slate plates and washed down with a good inky red wine, will leave you feeling that you have had a very special night.
It is the attention to detail and quality of the Tajima that creates the occasion. Details such as a choice of salts, Japanese-style knives, sauces and deserts mean that you are put in charge of expressing how you experience your meal. And that is in itself a unique opportunity in the dining experience.
See a listing for CHAR Bar & Grill, Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund. 29-31/F, Hotel Indigo, 585 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, by Dongmen Lu 中山东二路585号29-31楼, 近东门路
[All photos by Manuela Price]