For meat lovers, there is nothing more satisfying than tucking into a perfect steak. With the help of our Fine Dining Expert Andy Hayler, we take steak connoisseurs on a journey of the world’s best steakhouses – starting in the USA, before heading to Argentina, passing through the UK and Italy, and ending our culinary trip on the other side of the globe in Japan.
One thing you can guarantee in the US is that you won’t find a shortage of American steakhouses. While the serving of steak in restaurants originated in French-style eateries in the mid-1800s, today’s venues are American through and through, and hold on to their heritage, such as Peter Luger whose history dates back to 1887.
Priding themselves on serving up steaks sourced from cattle graded as prime beef by the United States Agriculture Department (USDA), the US’s best steakhouses charge top dollar for their meat, which is often matured in dry-aging rooms for weeks on site.
Although a love of steak (and grilling) is undeniable in the States with the average American consuming 57.5 pounds of beef in 2012, this figure is more than overshadowed by the typical Argentinean’s appetite for the meat, which stands at a staggering 129 pounds.
Long considered to be the best steak you can get your hands on, Argentina prides itself on its beef, so much so that it exports less than 7% of it, according to 2012 figures. The exquisite flavor of the meat is put down to the nation’s grass-fed cattle, which reached 52 million last year.
Although Argentinean steak does find its way to European restaurants, London steakhouses by the likes of Goodman prefer homegrown talent from farms in Scotland and Ireland, with the occasional cut of USDA prime beef.
Similarly, Italy’s Maxelâ Ristorante Macelleria in Genoa prides itself on its unique Fassone beef, which is renowned for being extremely healthy, with 30% less calories than regular beef.
Across the other side of the globe in Japan, Kobe and Sanda beef – served at Aragawa in Kobe and Kawamura in Tokyo – takes center stage. The meat, which comes from Tajima cattle reared in the country, is famous for its velvety and fatty richness, as well as its hefty price tag. Other steakhouses are equally obsessed with quality and will source the best meat available at the time, whether Kobe or not, such as Dons de la Nature.
Goodman Restaurant, London, UK
Goodman Restaurant brought the New York steakhouse to London in 2008 when the Russian-owned venue opened up in Mayfair, promising to serve the most tender, full-flavoured steak in London.
Five years on, it has built a reputation for being one of the best steakhouses in the capital with three branches offering a selection of prime US beef, including a choice of corn-fed USDA beef, grass-fed Black Angus from Scotland and Ireland, and rare breed Belted Galloway from the Lake District, UK.
When the restaurant first came to Mayfair in 2008, it marked the first steakhouse in the country to have a dry-ageing room on site (where cuts can be matured for up to 40 days). One of the most expensive ways to mature meat, it explains why Goodman’s steaks do not come cheap.
Kawamura, Tokyo, Japan
Considered to be one of best places to get steak in Tokyo, eating at Kawamura is one of the things to do while in the Japanese city.
Famed for its excellent Kobe Beef, which hails from Tajima Beef Cattle in Japan, the chef at the restaurant prides himself on serving the highest-quality beef available in the country.
But with fewer than ten seats available at Kawamura, booking is notoriously difficult, so much so that diners have been known to book their next visit immediately after they’ve eaten at the restaurant.
Maxelâ Ristorante Macelleria, ITALY
When Maxelâ started out in Genoa’s meat district, it wanted to be different to your typical restaurant, offering a place where people could pick meats off the counter to be cooked by expert chefs, as well as having the option to buy them to take away and cook themselves; namely, a Butcher-Restaurant.
Today, the chain counts nine venues among its Italian collection, with the opening of the London Maxelâ in 2012, signaling its first venture abroad.
Diners eating at the restaurant are presented with a tray of steaks to choose from, including matured T-bone and ribeye, before they are cooked on the grill. Unlike other steak restaurants, however, Maxelâ has a unique specialty with its Fassone beef, which is renowned for its lean and delicious flavor, as well as being extremely healthy, with 30% less calories than regular beef.
Dons de la Nature, Tokyo, Japan
Earlier this year, restaurant critic Andy Hayler described the Matsusaka beef he ate at Dons de la Nature as the best beef he had ever eaten, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that this specialist steakhouse is recognised as one of the most reputable in Tokyo.
Rather than exclusively using Kobe beef, Dons de la Nature – which opened in 2005 – uses the best beef available, which is cooked using a bespoke charcoal kiln furnace, resulting in tender perfection.
CUT by Wolfgang Puck, Singapore
After CUT made a name for itself as one of the finest steakhouses in the USA, Wolfgang Puck – the celebrated chef behind the fine-dining restaurant – opened his first venue in Asia, at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, in 2010.
A contemporary twist on the classic steakhouse, the restaurant offers the finest cuts of beef, exclusively featuring Kobe beef, USDA prime Illinois corn-fed and 300-day grain-fed Australian Angus, catering for true steak connoisseurs.
Add to this the choice of CUT’s house-made sauces, including its signature Steak Sauce, and a selection of more than 700 wines, and you’ll find yourself in steak heaven.
Peter Luger steakhouse, New York, USA
With history dating back to the late 1880s and one of the few restaurants on this list with a Michelin star, it’s no surprise that Peter Luger Steakhouse has gained a reputation as one of the best steakhouses in the USA.
A family-run business, the steakhouse prepares short loin meat that hails from the Midwest, using only USDA prime beef, which is dry-aged on the premises before being grilled to perfection.
Arguably the best steak you’ll get this side of Brooklyn, diners are served in an unfussy dining room that’s always full to the brim.
La Cabana, buenos Aires, Argentina
With history dating back 75 years, La Cabaña continues to hold a stellar reputation for traditional steak in Argentina.
The country’s beef has long been considered to among the best in the world, with its cattle grass fed and rarely a hormone in sight.
Serving up giant-sized steaks with 13 ramekins of sides, La Cabaña is the place to go if you are hungry (the portions are huge), and more importantly, for tender, juicy meat that is the stuff of dreams.
Aragawa, Kobe, Japan
As well as being one of the most expensive restaurants in the world, Aragawa is arguably the most famous Kobe beef restaurant in Japan.
Founded in 1956, the steakhouse is run by the sons of the founder Jiro Yamada, who died in 2011. It holds two Michelin stars.
Specialising in sirloin using Sanda beef, which is considered to be the most premium form of beef available in Japan, steaks at the restaurant are cooked in a brick oven using white charcoal. The result? Ultra tender steaks, presented simply with pepper and mustard, that leave meat-lovers in heaven.