Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Marina Mandarin

If red meat isn’t your thing, stay away.

I’ve always found it odd that quite a number of people in Singapore have an aversion towards any semblance of raw food; be it sashimi, sushi, tartare or carpaccios. Diners will gladly lap up a well-done steak, then see red, which is, to me, very wrong – it’s kind of like using a table-spoon to drink soup, I mean, the meat becomes too chewy and in most cases, inedible. It’s not how you ought to have your steak. It’s not a sex thing, I can tell you, for I have seen guys squeal over seeing diluted blood ooze from their steak. To these people, I’ve learned to ignore, even though my compulsion to rant is undeniable.

If you truly love steak, then you’ll be overjoyed to hear that American steakhouse chain, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse now has an outlet in Singapore. Tucked unsuspectingly at the fourth level of the Marina Mandarin at Marina Square, the interior’s an homage to traditional Southern hospitality. Fans of the chain will, however, be disappointed that like many western brands’ endeavors in Asia, Ruth’s Chris’s position is slightly more upscale, but it’s no Wolfgang Puck, in terms of pricing and formalities. Rather than adapting blindly from the original, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Singapore generally features smaller, more manageable portions, which not only helps keeps the price down, but encourages diners to share sides, potatoes, salads and entrees. Instead of hitting the restaurant this weekend, I’d advice you to give them about a week or so as the service and kitchen staff refine their techniques to reach a level of consistency and quality that you’d expect from Ruth’s Chris. But what you’ll want, is not let them close down, because these are quite frankly, there are treasures here you don’t want to miss.

Texans love crab cakes, and I never knew why until today, when my eyes were opened by the Sizzlin’ Blue Crab Cakes at today’s media tasting. Too long have I been exposed to the mediocrity in Singapore, where what’s essentially a begedil with a few strands of crab meat could pass off as a crab cake. Crab lovers rejoice, for this cake was more crab than crap. The natural flavor of the blue crab permeated the entire cake, acting as its own natural oven, infusing the freshness inside. Easily, the best dish of today.

If you’re familiar with Spanish tapas, the Barbecued Prawn with Creole Butter won’t taste alien to you.

The next two explore more unfamiliar territory. Ruth’s Chop Salad’s made of various vegetables, olives, blue cheese and egg are finely sliced into a composition that’s not dissimilar to Japanese kakiage, especially with the fried onion fritters topping up the salad. The blue cheese, while sparingly used, was still quite the punch, and will get some getting used to. On the other hand, the Seafood Gumbo Soup’s kind of like a mash of minestrone, ratatouille made into a watery risotto – it’s more of a watery porridge than an actual soup. While I did finish it, I must say that while you do get the notion of it being comfort food, it was, at least to me, generally underwhelming.

Despite demanding medium-rare for my US Petite Filet (230 grams), it was in fact, closer to medium, which I was disappointed with, as I love my red meats medium-rare. It’s two-fold, really. Firstly, you chew less as it melts in your mouth, and secondly, it’s not as taxing to swallow. My fellow media peers, who also ordered medium-rare steaks, curiously had different degrees of doneness – some were on the verge of rare while some were too light pink, and only a handful was just nice. I had a large slice of the “perfect” medium-rare, and was blown away. It just wasn’t as impressive, especially since I had to eat someone else’s medium-rare steak because my medium-rare was actually a medium. I’d attribute it to the newness of the place, and hope that when I come back, which I will, most likely, these little inconsistencies will be eradicated. Were I to base my criticism on the “medium-rare-actually-came-out-medium-almost-well-done-in-fact” steak, I’d give a scathing review, placing it below those Parisian steak bistros along Club Street and Great World City’s Pepper Steakhouse, and on the same level as Jack’s Place, though. Based on my slice of “actual-medium-rare” steak, it’s waaaayyyy up there, right by the best.

The desert of Cheesecake with Fresh Berries rounded off the meal perfectly with quite literally, the best cheesecake in Singapore. It was light, but not Japanese cheesecake light, and it went down surprisingly well despite the huge portion.

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