Meat Thy Maker: Maximal Concepts’ flagship, Blue, is more than your average steakhouse

With seven properties in the region – including a speakeasy, haute Chinese restaurant and, more irreverently, a beauty centre – Hong Kong-based Maximal Concepts is living up to its name.

Founded in 2012, the group has achieved widespread recognition for its track record of opening diverse, narrative-driven F&B venues. Trend-conscious diners will doubtless be familiar: whether it’s award-winning cocktails at Stockton or late-night revels at Brickhouse, the company’s Mexican offering.

Indeed, the group’s strongest asset might be its specialised portfolio, which caters to diverse – and often ultra-specific – segments of the market. This being Hong Kong, steakhouses are one such premiere segment. Local buyers have imported an estimated HK$7.6 billion in beef this year alone, while international chains continue to expand into a city saturated with steakhouses. It’s this environment that makes the longevity of Blue, Maximal’s restaurant-cum-butchery, previously known as Blue Butcher, all the more impressive.

Originally established in 2012 (and rebranded last year), Blue made its initial reputation by specialising in Rubia Gallega: a breed of bovine hailing from the Basque region in northern Spain. These days – though Galician beef remains a fixture on the restaurant’s menu – executive chef Sebastian Comerso casts a wide net, searching internationally for the best cuts in every corner of the world.

Intent on providing a culinary experience that goes beyond the milquetoast, Blue revamped its menu in May so as to echo the resurgent movements of “slow food” and international dining.

Proceedings commence innocently enough, with the house’s steak tartare. The foundation of this dish is grass-fed Australian tenderloin, making for lean beef that is initially unctuous before giving way to a more delicate texture. Inspired by the cuisine of Catalan, Comerso dresses it as a pan tomaca, complementing the former’s richness with chunks of fresh acidic tomato. Iberian flourishes follow with salty-sweet pata negra added to the composition.

Initial impressions are followed by the Blue beef ribs – a new barbecue-centric addition to the restaurant’s menu. Comerso’s take on the ubiquitous North American dish won’t be winning any accolades for innovation, but what it lacks in novelty it compensates for in sheer execution.

Upon initial inspection, the signs all point toward a roaring good time: burnt ends gild the edges of the beef while a natural fat cap glistens provocatively. Slow cooking has preserved the meat’s moisture, imparting a tenderness so profound that it borders on ethereal – even the bones have softened, adding to the multi-textural experience!

The sourdough French toast, conceived by pastry chef David Puig, bears a croque monsieur-esque appearance – thick-cut toast topped with flambéed vanilla cream. A crisp top layer gives way to the cake-like sourdough below, and the dessert is paired with an assortment of “breakfast” spreadables and freshly grated lime zest. There’s something so delightfully taboo about consuming this creation, acutely resembling breakfast, at dinnertime. Fittingly, it is a finale capturing Blue at its best and most elemental: simple, familiar, comforting.

Address: 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
Tel: 2613 9286

Text: Randalph Lai

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