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Alinea waygu - 2 Q's

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willyum Oct 7, 2010 03:25 PM

Dined at Alinea in June and one course was a waygu tourneado, which was our first waygu and the best tasting beef I've ever eaten. Texture and taste were perfect and you could cut it with a fork.

Recently dined at a Michelin 2* in Vegas (Alex) and my wife ordered their waygu, expecting something similar to Alinea's (or at least in the same ball park). Instead it was very bland by comparison, more like a slice of roast beef.

Which got us wondering what the differences were ... the Alex waygu was from Snake River Farms here in the USA, so Q 1 is does anyone know the source of Alinea waygu, ie, SRF or from Australia or New Zealand, or one of the best Japanese sources (which is what I'm thinking).

Q 2 is does anyone know if Alinea cooks their beef sous vide? I think someone mentioned that while we were at Alinea but I'm not sure. This would help explain why it was so tender I guess.

Just curious as to whether the cooking method and source of beef is what caused such a tremendous difference in the quality of the two waygu meals. Or is Achatz really just that much better of a chef ...

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. chicgail RE: willyum Oct 7, 2010 08:43 PM

    No idea how Alinea cooked your wagu, but you can count on that Greg Achatz is one of the most amazing, innovative chefs on the planet.

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    Alinea
    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

    1 Reply
    1. re: chicgail
      nsxtasy RE: chicgail Oct 20, 2010 10:44 AM

      >> Greg Achatz is one of the most amazing, innovative chefs on the planet.

      So is his alter-ego, Grant Achatz. :)

    2. Chicago Wine Geek RE: willyum Oct 8, 2010 08:11 AM

      Snake River Farms is one of the larges suppliers of domestic Waygu. As an example, they are the source for Allen Brothers who supplies most of the top steakhouses in the US. If you haven't been to their website and gotten their catalog, you should. Stuff is over the top expensive but really good. The two times I've eaten at Alinea, there was not Waygu option. However, I did get the Kobe beef addition at dinner at L2O and it was actual Kobe from Japan and out of this world.

      My guess is that the big difference in your two experiences had more to do with the source of the beef. If you want to try and recreate the experience at home, check out the Akaushi beef from Heartbrand Beef in TX. Super expensive and worth every penny.

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      Alinea
      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

      L2O
      2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

      1. c
        Combination RE: willyum Oct 8, 2010 08:43 AM

        If they serve it when I go next month, I'll try to remember to ask.

        You'd have to think that if G.A. prefers to cook a grocery store turkey sous vide, he'd do the same for exotic beef.

        I once had venison cooked sous vide, and it does make a very significant difference - much softer, etc.

        1. g
          gleam RE: willyum Oct 8, 2010 08:59 AM

          alinea cooks almost all proteins sous vide, and wagyu is a perfect candidate for the method.

          my guess is that alinea was serving true wagyu from japan, and alex was serving the snake river farms wagyu/angus hybrid which is much more common.

          there's a huge difference between the two.. SRF wagyu is a notch above most prime beef for sure, but it's nothing like the bms #12 wagyu you can get from saga/ohmi/matsuzaka/kagoshima in japan. That stuff is just way ahead of anything coming out of snake river farms. Even SRF's highest quality wagyu would only grade at about bms #10 in Japan, and most of it is bms #7.

          There are a few restaurants in Vegas that have sold bms 12 wagyu in the past.. I've seen it at Craftsteak and at CUT and at the now-closed Bar Charlie.

          None of this is meant to take away from the skill in the Alinea kitchen, but I'm pretty positive both Alex and Alinea are cooking it sous vide, and Alex is operating at a very, very high level itself, so I think the difference you saw is almost entirely due to the quality of the meat.

          The problem is that now that you've had really exceptional quality wagyu from Alinea, nothing else will compare.

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          Alinea
          1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

          3 Replies
          1. re: gleam
            uhockey RE: gleam Oct 8, 2010 11:43 AM

            The above is correct - my friend had the Wagyu at Alinea while I opted against beef as I usually don't enjoy it - they made me an excellent poulet dish in substitution. He was mesmerized by the beef and inquired - they did indeed sous vide it prior to final prep and it was stated as Grade A5, direct from Japan.

            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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            Alinea
            1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

            1. re: gleam
              w
              willyum RE: gleam Oct 8, 2010 01:25 PM

              >>"The problem is that now that you've had really exceptional quality wagyu from Alinea, nothing else will compare"

              Yeah, that sums it up perfectly. Thanks gleam (and uhockey), guess next time I see 'waygu' on the menu I'll ask about the cooking method and source before forking over the extra bucks.

              >>"There are a few restaurants in Vegas that have sold bms 12 wagyu in the past.. I've seen it at Craftsteak and at CUT "

              Another Q ... we were going to go to either CUT or Craftsteak (probably CUT unless we were staying at MGM) on our next Robuchon trip and are now wondering how their waygu compares to Alinea's. Anybody here tried both (Alinea and either of the LV restaurants)? Everything I've heard about CUT has been very positive.

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              Alinea
              1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

              1. re: willyum
                uhockey RE: willyum Oct 8, 2010 01:43 PM

                Call ahead and ask about the grade. Neither Cut nor Craftsteak are going to sous vide it before preparation, but from what I've been told Cut actually serves BMS 12, A5 Wagyu and it is the only place in Vegas that has it on hand at almost all times.

                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

            2. m
              mountsac RE: willyum Oct 8, 2010 04:17 PM

              When did you dine at Alinea? I ask because US has banned the import of beef from Japan late spring this year. Unless Alinea stocks tons of Wagyu, the beef you had is likely from the US or from Australia, if you went to Alinea after May.

              Now I don't know what is the genetic profile of the Wagyu in Australia, but anything from the US is a cross between Angus and Wagyu, like mentioned by previous posts. So maybe that accounts for the difference in marbling.

              In terms of flavor, that's probably all execution there. If you detected no grill mark or no sear marks on your beef, it is definitely possible that it was done sous vide. But again, that shouldn't really affect the flavor profile, but merely the texture of the meat.

              The last time I was at Alinea, the Wagyu I had was cooked sous vide and was very tender. However, I actually prefer the Wagyu I had at Avenues, which was not cooked sous vide. I guess sous vide makes steak taste not like steak, as good as it might be.

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              Alinea
              1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

              5 Replies
              1. re: mountsac
                uhockey RE: mountsac Oct 8, 2010 04:24 PM

                Last meal there was February of this year. I also actually rescinded my adversity to beef for one ounce while at Vidalia24 in May because Chef Cooper was so insistant that the Grade A5 (15) would change my feelings on beef forever.

                I had no idea about the Ban because I don't eat beef regularly - what was the reason?

                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                1. re: uhockey
                  m
                  mountsac RE: uhockey Oct 8, 2010 04:51 PM

                  There was an instance of "mouth-hoof disease" in Japan earlier this year, hence the ban. I don't know how serious the situation actually is, but I hope the ban will be repealed soon.

                  1. re: mountsac
                    uhockey RE: mountsac Oct 8, 2010 04:56 PM

                    Seems a ridiculous ban considering the manners in which we contaminate our own food supply - and considering the way the high end wagyu is cared for and selected over there I seriously doubt it would've been a concern in that specific stock.

                    Oh well, I'm sure it will resolve rather quickly - it isn't that serious a disease anyhow. Typical FDA. :-)

                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                    1. re: uhockey
                      n
                      nextguy RE: uhockey Oct 20, 2010 11:50 AM

                      Bans are very common in all countries. I believe France still has a ban on American beef due to hormone concerns.

                2. re: mountsac
                  w
                  willyum RE: mountsac Oct 9, 2010 08:55 AM

                  "When did you dine at Alinea?"

                  Early June, so maybe they still had the good stuff? ... the server didn't explicitly say "Kobe" or "Japanese", just 'wagyu', and at the time I didn't know enough to ask him for specifics.

                  "I ask because US has banned the import of beef from Japan late spring this year"

                  I've read that as well, but some places are still advertising that they can get it ... for example here's what it says on the CUT (Vegas) menu:

                  "True Japanese 100% Wagyu Beef From Saga Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan" ...

                  FWIW they aren't cooking sous vide (and I doubt that Alex was either), their menu says
                  "Grilled Over Hard Wood & Charcoal then finished under a 1200 Degree Broiler" ...

                  Since an 8 oz ribeye at CUT (without sides) costs more that a four course meal at Robuchon and almost as much as the current Alinea tasting menu I'm still not sure it's worth it if it's not as succulent as the Alinea serving (actually I doubt it's worth $180 even if it IS as good as the Alinea wagyu).

                  Thanks for the posts thus far, very informative.

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                  Alinea
                  1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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