New York Steak of Mind

Reminiscent of a mob hangout, this classic steakhouse slings mouthwatering dry- and wet-aged cuts with a side of Hollywood glamor

New York City of the early 20th century has been immortalized in film like perhaps no other time and place ever will be. From the opulence of Jay Gatsby to the secret dealings of Michael Corleone, it represents success, exclusivity and above all, luxury. On a bustling corner in Da Kao, New York Steakhouse Saigon (25 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1) is an open love letter to 1920s New York City that manages to be authentic in its own right with outstanding food and an intimate atmosphere.

New York Steakhouse occupies an (appropriately) art deco-themed structure near the corner of Nguyen Dinh Chieu and Dinh Tien Hoang. Inside, one is greeted by plush red cushions, dark wood furniture and crisp white tablecloths. Black and white photos of vintage movie stars adorn the walls. There are romantic booths for couples as well as large tables for group celebrations. Most of the tables line the walls of the room so each guest has an exclusive, private dining experience.

Our evening began with a 2016 Chateau Le Grand Verdus Bordeaux Supérieur (VND1,340,000) and a bread basket. This simple starter, like all of the dishes, comes with an array of condiments—in this case butter, roasted garlic and chicken liver. The menu is as expected for a traditional luxury steakhouse. Appetizers include soups, salads and small bites of meat or seafood, and the sides are considered vegetable dishes and some decadent treats like Mac & Cheese and Parmesan Truffle Fries. We began with a Caesar Salad (VND250,000) and Potatoes Au Gratin (VND120,000). Both are good-sized portions, expertly prepared and thoughtfully presented.

The decor of New York Steakhouse consistently points toward vintage cinema and New York City. One standout is the Alfred Hitchcock smoking room, enclosed by a sliding glass door and with a large window overlooking Nguyen Dinh Chieu, which doubles as the restaurant’s wine cellar. The space is decorated with the same vintage actresses, this time all smoking, surrounding portrait of the legendary filmmaker himself. There are large, plush sofas and chairs and beautiful flourishes of decoration throughout. One can’t help but imagine a banker and a gangster enjoying a celebratory cigar after a secret handshake over dinner.

Before the main course, the server brings a selection of steak knives for each diner to choose from. Entrees include steaks from 230- to 800-gram, and most are available Dry-aged or Wet-aged. Dry-aging, as our server explained, slowly removes much of the moisture from the meat resulting in higher saturation of flavor and a more tender steak, due to the natural enzymes being in an ideal environment to break down the connective tissue of the meat. In addition to steaks, poultry and seafood options are also available in individual and group portions.

Our first choice was the 300-gram Dry Aged Ribeye (VND950,000) served without the bone, cooked a juicy medium rare with a light searing. Three different sauces, pepper, mushroom and onion, are served on the side. While dry-aging results in a slightly denser steak with a thinner line of fat around the edge, the process only removes the moisture, so the flavor is more concentrated. It’s a dish to be eaten slowly and savored. We also had the Broiled Salmon Filet with Sautéed Haricot Vert (VND500,000). The large portion of salmon is well marinated, tender and fatty with a crispy skin, and is served with a rich sour cream and onion sauce. Both dishes show an uncompromising selection of meats and an artful skill in preparation.

All entrees at New York Steakhouse are served with an array of condiments: a spice rack with salt, pepper, basil, thyme, paprika and garlic, and small jars of tomato preserves, walnut butter and two types of mustard. Although each dish comes well seasoned, all desires are anticipated and accounted for.

As dinner ended, it was difficult to leave—due in equal parts to the inviting ambiance and to the extravagant portions of rich food we had just consumed. But we were happy to linger. A celebratory feast is best followed by a long, warm conversation, just as a rainy Saigon evening is well spent escaping to the glamor and elegance of 1920s New York. Come for the steak, and stay for the memories.

Images by Vy Lam

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