*UPDATE: Sadly The Butchers Club Deli is now only open for private events*
As someone once known as “The Red Beef Girl”, you can imagine that any establishment called The Butchers Club and I are likely to get on very well indeed.
The Butchers Club Deli in Wong Chuk Hang is the latest offspring of the burgeoning Butchers Club empire that’s rapidly spreading throughout Hong Kong. With a private dining room and sausage-making workshop in Aberdeen, a burger joint in Wan Chai, a series of successful steak-themed foodie events around town, and regular market stalls and an online store selling their high-quality steaks and sausages, it’s a case of the more meat the better!
The Butchers Club Deli is the casual lunch spot cousin of this meat-feast family, and is hidden away on the 16th floor of a vaguely sketchy-looking industrial building in the increasingly happening neighbourhood of Wong Chuk Hang. I say “increasingly happening” – but you’ll probably still have to ride one of those creepy cargo lifts with a topless labourer trundling a massive crate-filled trolley to get there… yeah, you aren’t in Soho anymore, kids!
The pay-off of lurking in one of these horror movie set-style warehouses = massive space. The 16th floor of the Shui Ki Industrial Building not only holds The Butchers Club Deli (with sizeable kitchen, private dining room, wine cellar, meat-drying fridges and errr… motorbike), but also a large retail showroom for ED1TUS men’s fashion and Casa Capriz vintage furniture – and still with more than enough room to swing a whole family of cats… especially if you head up to the mahoosive rooftop area, which is about the size of five Poho cafés put together. Yup, you DEFINITELY aren’t in Soho anymore, kids!
We started the meal with a Caesar salad – but this being The Butchers Club, it certainly isn’t your average Caesar salad! It comes with a mouth-watering slab of thick-cut grilled bacon on top… and one taste of this wonderfully smoky, manfully meaty, perfectly salty, eyes-rolling-into-back-of-head addictive rasher just serves as a reminder of how pathetically insipid most standard supermarket bacon in Hong Kong is. The lettuce is a pleasant carnivore concession at some greenery to balance out the ensuing meat-feast, although they could be a little more generous with the anchovies.
If that was good, then The Deli Poutine is the sort of thing soldiers write wistfully to their sweethearts back home about. It’s absolutely, gluttonously, glorious. Yes, it probably isn’t truly authentic Canadian poutine – but we’re talking luscious triple-cooked duck fat chips drenched in lashings of thick gravy, chunks of aged cheddar and hunks of pastrami… who the hell cares if it’s authentic, it’s frigging lick-the-plate-clean delicious. (And as Executive Chef Aarik put it, “We put some parsley on… it’s practically a salad, right?!)
These also have to be amongst the best chips in Hong Kong I’ve ever had. They’re chunky fat wedges of happiness – golden crispy on the outside, angelically fluffy on the inside, sinfully delicious all over. The endemic force of frozen fries runs strong in this city, but The Butchers Club’ chips are defiantly homemade and in my opinion, all the better for it. Being thick-cut and basted in duck fat, they do bear some resemblance to roast potatoes and yes, if you come expecting McDonalds fries then, you will be disappointed… so why don’t you just run along and get McDonalds fries instead? These are the REAL DEAL.
The Butchers’ Board is a smorgasbord (yay, always wanted to use that word) of meat, meat and more meat, which the menu advises sharing between two – and which I’d recommend sharing amongst at least four unless you want to get stuffed on cold-cuts alone – inadvisable given the menu’s other temptations. This selection of “artisanal cured meats” changes daily, although my personal favourite from our batch was the homemade ham hock terrine (which is also available on the menu separately). Neither too dry, stodgy or salty, the proof of how delicious this is lies in the number of “last helpings” of it I had, i.e. far too many. In contrast, I found the homemade pork and beef sausages a little bland in comparison, and I’d have preferred a few more pickles to balance out the sheer amount of meat.
Unfortunately for the length of this review, all our mains were good enough to warrant discussion too. I’ll start with my favourite – and not only because it comes with another bowl of gravy (score!); The Butchers Club steak and ale pie is easily one of the best pies I’ve eaten in Hong Kong. Admittedly, it’s not exactly slammed with competition but the quality of the meat really shines through. It’s deep-filled (the ONLY way pies should be), has generous amounts of hearty beef chunks and earthy mushrooms mixed in with a thick flavourful gravy, and all encased in a buttery-but-not-too-rich shortcrust pastry. Comfort food for kings.
Fish and chips is another dish that’s rarely done well in Hong Kong – and whilst I’ve long resigned myself to the fact that nowhere will compare to my local (i.e. the best fish and chip shop in the world and my second home, Andy’s Fish Bar in Stapleford), The Butchers Club Deli offer a very decent rendition… again, massively helped by the fact I’m completely cray-cray for those chips. On my first visit, I found the batter slightly soggy in places, whilst the chosen fish of barramundi was just not the right texture for my idea of a great battered fish. However, on my second visit, the catch of the day was much less dense and the batter positively snapped, crackled and popped with crunchiness – so job well done and plate scraped clean.
If you ever thought a sandwich and packet of crisps was a poor excuse for a packed lunch, then think again – as The Butchers Club takes your pedestrian lunchbox to a whole new level! The Butcher’s Reuben (think New York-style corned beef sandwich) was positively dinosaur-sized and by this stage, the food coma had well and truly set in – but my few bites confirmed that this was no ordinary sandwich; these soft, silky folds of corned beef bear about as much resemblance to the nasty salty canned stuff as The Inbetweeners UK does to The Inbetweeners US, whilst the red cabbage coleslaw provided a spiky tang perfect for cutting through the meat sweats.
That being said, there is ALWAYS room for desserts. Co-founder Johnny’s wife bakes a selection of cakes daily – and they’re blooming wonderful. The chocolate brownie cake somehow manages to be both rich with swoonsome chocolate flavour and airily light too, whilst the key lime pie – not too sweet, not too tart and again with that lovely lightness of touch – is a winner too.
The apple crumble pie is a little more unusual, boasting chunks of aged cheddar on top (co-founder Johnny claims this is a Yorkshire thing…). To be honest, I found the cheese a bit of a non-event – the cubes look cute but feel disproportionately big, meaning you hit chunks of gooey, gluey cheese all at once, which isn’t an entirely pleasant sensation. There’s nothing wrong with the filling, although what with the crumble and pastry, there just doesn’t seem to be enough of it; personally, I’d prefer a traditional apple crumble (sans pastry) with a scoop of ice-cream instead.
Thus far, The Butchers Club Deli menu is available at lunchtime Monday to Saturday; in the evening, it reverts to the private kitchen-style dinners of its other Aberdeen location, with a set menu where the centrepiece is a magnificent cut of dry-aged steak sold by weight. We were lucky enough to try a piece of the 90-day Australian steak, which would normally only be served for dinner… and the only way I can describe it is with guttural drooling sounds that sound positively indecent reproduced on paper. These guys make the likes of Outback look like clueless kids – this is beef for grown-ups, with an array of homemade sauces (my top picks were the chimichurri and, duh, the gravy) that serve to bring out even more of that heaven-sent flavour.
The lunch menu is resoundingly well priced given the quality of the meat and generosity of the portions; starters are all around $70-80 whilst mains are mostly $120-140. I’d usually end such glowing reviews by saying I’ll definitely be back… but in The Butchers Club Deli’s case I already have been! The Red Beef Girl just found her new spiritual home.
The Butchers Club Deli, 16/F, Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, +852 2884 0768
Note: original meal was by invitation, but I have since been back for seconds (and thirds… and fourths…) that were purchased by my own pocket and were of similarly high standards!