Danny Deng, the culinary maestro behind the Ambassador Hotel's newest endeavor, is aiming for the very top. "We think we have a chance at the title of best steakhouse in Asia," he said of A Cut Steakhouse, which opened two weeks ago in the hotel's basement.
The moment you turn into the stairway leading to A Cut, you leave behind the conventional decor of the hotel lobby and are enveloped by a cigar-bar atmosphere of dark wood, stitched leather, plush carpets and subdued jazz.
For all the money that has clearly gone into creating an ambiance of refined luxury, the real point of A Cut is the meat, and this is something that Deng and his bevy of chefs take seriously. The name of the restaurant refers to a cut of meat that Deng calls the "cap" of the rib eye.
"In a cow weighing 700kg, we can get only about 2kg of this 'cap,'" Deng said. As it is not normally served separately from the rib eye, it has no accepted name, so Deng went ahead and called it the "A Cut," the restaurant's signature dish.
The Chef's "A Cut" Signature House Cut (NT$1,500 for a 10oz steak) is good value, with a succulence that justifies the price tag. The meat is served very simply, seared and presented in a cast-iron dish with a small serving of sauteed mushrooms. A variety of salts are the only garnish. "Very simple, very high quality," Deng said. The usual steakhouse side dishes such as mashed potatoes and vegetables are also available.
Simplicity marks the restaurant's other steak dishes. A 16oz USDA Prime Center Cut Rib Eye (NT$2,400) is intended for two and a 22oz version of the same (NT$3,300) serves three. "We wanted to incorporate the idea of Chinese-style dining," Deng said, "where good things are shared."
Address: Ambassador Hotel, B1, 63, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市中山北路二段63號B1)
Telephone: (02) 2571-0389
Open: Daily, 11:30am to 2pm; 6pm to 10:30pm
Average meal: NT$1,500 and up
Details: English menu, credit cards accepted
Although steak is the centerpiece of A Cut's menu, the menu includes many other meat and seafood options, with main courses starting at around NT$700. The choice of appetizers includes seared foie gras with braised baby abalone and wine poached pear (NT$700). The dessert menu demonstrates the restaurant's overall sophistication: the chocolate souffle with raspberry sorbet (NT$350) is a delight.
A wide range of wines, including a 16 house wines, means that pairing wines and courses can be easily managed even for small tables.