Friday, January 18, 2008

LA Dining: Cut

I had the pleasure of dining at Cut, Wolfgasng Puck's celebrated steakhouse, while in LA. I was most impressed when last I ate here and once again I had a memorable meal, although I am perhaps not quite as star struck as I was on my last visit. It is not that the effusive service, sleek decor and Kobe beef are not first class it is just that the domestic steer is not quite up to the best available. However, the food in general is so good that you could not even eat steak and still have a gourmet meal here. I don't know of to many steakhouses were that is possible.

Maple Glazed Pork Belly, Asian Spices, Sesame–Orange Dressing, Bartlett Pear Compote

Maryland Blue Crab & Maine Lobster “Louis” Cocktail, Spicy Tomato-Horseradish

A carefully crafted wine list does not suffer from an overabundance of choices but successfully covers a broad range of tastes and budgets. This bottle of Luca Malbec was a bargain at $70, and was far cheaper than the steaks that it accompanied.

Clockwise from top left: American Wagyu ribeye, American Wagyu filet mignon, Japanese Wagyu filet mignon, Japanese Wagyu rib eye and Japanses Wagyu NY strip.

The steak offerings at Cut are a carnivores delight. Here is the complete beef menu:

U.S.D.A. PRIME, Illinois Corn Fed, Aged 21 Days

Porterhouse 34 Oz (For Two) Per Person $51
Bone In New York Sirloin 20 Oz $51
Bone In Rib Eye Steak 20 Oz $53
Bone In Filet Mignon 16 Oz $53
Petit Cut Filet Mignon 8 Oz $44

U.S.D.A. PRIME, Nebraska Corn Fed, Dry Aged 35 Days
Rib Eye Steak 16 OZ $61
New York Sirloin 14 Oz $58
Petit Cut New York 10 Oz $46

American Wagyu / Angus “Kobe Style” Beef From Snake River Farms, Idaho
Porterhouse 34 Oz (For Two) Per Person $65
Filet Mignon 6 Oz $60 ($20 each additional 2 ounces)
New York Sirloin 8 Oz $70 ($20 each additional 2 ounces)

True Japanese 100% Wagyu Beef from Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan
New York $120 6 Oz ($40 each additional 2 ounces)
Filet Mignon $130 6 Oz ($40 each additional 2 ounces)
Rib Eye Steak $160 8 Oz ($40 each additional 2 ounces)

All steaks grilled over hard wood and charcoal then finished under a 1200 Degree Broiler.

Interestingly the Illinois corn fed steaks are not dry aged although they are certainly priced as if they are. I am a big advocate of dry aging, while one can certainly achieve tenderness by using a wet age, dry aging imparts a complexity and depth of flavor beyond what can be achieved with liquid. A wet aged steak will have essentially the same flavor regardless of which part of the steak you eat. Dry aged beef will offer a range of flavors as you sample different sections of the steak.

The Nebraska steer is dry aged for 35 days, longer than the average chophouse but I did not find that this helped develop more flavor than I get from any number of my regular chophouses back East. Certainly it paled in comparison to the 35 day dry aged "Kansas City" strip that I enjoyed so much at Primehouse recently. The American Wagyu on offer at Cut, which is a mix of the true black Wagyu steer of Japan and domestic Angus steer, receives similar treatment to it Japanese cousin in terms of being fed beer and massaged with Sake. But because the American Wagyu is free range it develops more muscle and consequently lacks the intensity of fat content that the Japanese Wagyu steer exhibit. While it is unfortunately not dry aged it is never the less wonderful stuff,. I was able to compare Nebraska Prime, domestic and Japanese Kobe strips as there was a sampler on offer when I ate there.

NY Strip sampler, from left to right 2oz Japanese Wagyu, 4oz American Wagyu and 4oz American Prime.

As for the NY Strip sampler the Japanese Wagyu was absolutely beyond reproach, commiserate with its hefty price, I found the US Prime to fall behind the best that NYC''s top steakhouses have to offer. The American Wagyu was less definitively ranked. Certainly it was tender, more so than USDA Prime can hope to be but because it is wet aged it fell short of its ultimate potential. It did have the best preparation of the steaks sampled, exhibiting a lovely char. . The sampler, or "flight" as certain other more pretentious establishments might call it (think Kobe Club NY) is an interesting experiment, especially for a food blogger, but I recommend that you just order a whole steak, either the American or preferably the Japanese Wagyu varieties.

The American Prime, although dry aged lacked the deep flavors I expect from prime steer. Also be warned that by default the steaks come dusted with pepper and salt. I recommend asking for the steak to be served sans the pepper to fully realize the flavor of the beef.

10oz Japanese Wagyu rib eye, $200

As the menu indicates the Japanese Wagyu is true Kobe from the Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu. The rib eye steak is utterly exquisite. Intensely marbled, brimming with flavor it is by far the richest, most decadent cut of beef I have eaten. While I usually order my steaks black and blue true Japanese Wagyu is so dense with fat I prefer it medium rare. Over the course of the last year or so I have sampled true Japanese Wagyu on numerous occasions and I can definitively say that Cut offers the finest incarnation. I appreciate the fact that the steaks are served whole, with a decent amount of char and with out embellishments.

Cut is not fantastic steakhouse, it is a fantastic restaurant. The service is personable and professional, more congruent with the type of service one receives in fine dining restaurants. The Richard Meier designed room is beautiful but more importantly the cuisine is outstanding and while I did not find the domestic steer to be the equal of the best examples of the breed the Japanese Wagyu is the finest I have had. In many ways Cut is the most ambitious and also the most successful reinterpretation of the traditional steakhouse that I have eaten. at. In NYC the restaurants that come closest to Cut at least in spirit are Craftsteak and Dylan Prime. But while I liked both, especially Dylan Prime they are not quite in the same league as Cut, which is indeed a cut above. Highly recommended but deep pockets are required.

Cut By Wolfgang Puck
9500 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Phone: (310) 275-5200


DocChuck said...


I always enjoy your posts because I believe that you probably match (or surpass) my own deep appreciation of fine beef, cooked properly and served professionally.

This post was outstanding. And, I do appreciate (due to my regional loyalty) the fact that CUT, located in LA, wisely chooses to use Maryland Blue Crabs (makes us Chesapeake-types feel validated, I suppose), and Maine lobster (my wife’s and my summer “hangout”).

But, in reference to your comment, “Highly recommended but deep pockets are required”, just who’s expense account are you on, Nick? (Kidding, of course).

Maybe I can convince my wife’s company that we need an urgent meeting in Beverly Hills??

Nick said...


Thanks as always for your kind words. I know from my blog stats that people are reading my posts, so I don't feel completely in a vacuum, but your comments always inspire me.

Puck knows his ingredients and he went to Japan for his Kobe so naturally he went to Maryland for his crab.

Start working on the wife, it really is worth the trip, especially if you follow some of my other recommendations.

Thanks again


Betty said...

Thanks for the excellent explanation!

I do have to say that the photos of the Kobe beef make them look moldy, like blocks of cheese! I know it's the fat, but it's still a little offputting.

Nick said...


Funny you say that because dry aged steak (which the Wagyu is not)is actually moldy as it is hung for several weeks and a mold is allowed to form on the outside. This tenderizes the beef as the mold releases enzymes in the flesh but it also imparts a wonderful musky tangy mineral rich flavor similar to a ripe blue cheese. The Wagyu is wet aged were the beef is sealed in plastic bags with water. This also achieves tenderness but not the flavors of dry aging. The downside of dry aging is that you lose volume as the process tends to shrink the beef and is thus costly. Wagyu is so dense with fat that it would be wonderful dry aged but would be even more expensive than it already is.