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COMPASS MAGAZINE > September 2010

La Mode

La Mode

La Mode

La Mode

Dry aging brings out the very
best in beef at La Mode

By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Andy Tsao

9, Taichung Port (TaiZhongGang) Rd, Sec 2, 1F (Tempus Hotel)
(04) 2323-0778, ext. 2219, 2220
Hours: 11:30 am-2 pm, 6-9:30 pm
Credit cards accepted.
10% service charge. Free parking.

For many folks out there, the mention of "dry aged beef" may conjure up images of hard, dry strips of beef jerky--either the Western or Chinese varieties--that are popular as snacks and gifts. However, a growing of number of local epicures are coming to appreciate the reality that the opposite is true--dry aged beef is actually a prized specialty that results in some of the juiciest, flavor-concentrated steaks you'll ever enjoy. As such, it remains a rarity only found in a select few establishments.

Fortunately for Taichung diners, at least one such restaurant is pulling out the stops to offer such delicacies. Since July, Tempus Hotel's classy, popular La Mode has been showcasing its Dry Aging Steak Cuisine selection of five different steaks, including the savory 16-ounce Rib Eye (NT$1,280), seven-ounce New York (NT$1,280), 16-ounce Bone-In Rib Eye (NT$2,600) and T-Bone (NT$2,800). The list is topped by the 16-ounce Porterhouse (NT$3,200), which Chef de Cuisine Kevin Chung says is one of his top sellers. All of these choices include La Mode's always-amazing salad bar, laden with a regularly rotating cornucopia of exquisite, creative appetizers and other treats, including desserts and ice cream.

As Chung explains, dry aged beef has been around for a while in high-end American and European restaurants and is an expensive, time-consuming process that entails hanging beef cuts in a cooler around freezing temperatures to dry for anywhere between 17 days and 45 days (for the T-Bone and Porterhouse). This can only be done with high-quality beef that has large, evenly-distributed fat content.

By the time the process is done, the meat will have a moldy outer crust that actually compliments natural enzymes in the beef, helping to tenderize and concentrate its flavor, as moisture evaporates from the muscle and the enzymes break down connective tissue. This crust is then trimmed off before cooking, further adding to the steak's cost.

The end result is well worth all this effort, producing a steak that's so flavorful that slathering it with sauce would be a sin. If you need to add anything, stick with a tiny bit of Fleur de Sel salt, provided by La Mode. Although dry aged beef should be on the menu for some time to come, don't wait too long to take advantage of this opportunity to savor steaks on a whole new level.

Note: Dry Aging Steak Cuisine Menu meals must be reserved in advance. Currently available steaks are posted at the restaurant.

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