Where the Steaks (and Everything Else) Sizzle

Columns Order of the Day

January 2, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Traditionally, all of the restaurants in the Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain use local ingredients whenever possible.

In its Hawaii locations, Ruth’s Chris continues the tradition by using the freshest available island ingredients, including Hamakua and Kamuela tomatoes, Kahuku sweet corn, Hawaiian salt, and opakapaka and ahi caught locally.

“Regionally, the chain tries to use local products whenever it can,” says Emi Chang Espinda, director of sales and marketing for Ruth’s Chris in Hawaii. “We want to be able to support our local farmers and community.”

The 45-year-old prime steak-house franchise, with locations in 34 states and 15 international cities, opened its first restaurant in Hawaii in 1989. It now has five locations here: at Oahu’s Restaurant Row and Waikiki Beach Walk, at Kohala’s Mauna Lani resort on the Big Island, and in Lahaina Center and The Shops at Wailea on Maui. “The great thing is that you can go to a Ruth’s Chris in Hawaii, or one in Beverly Hills, Atlanta or Toronto, and you know your expectations will be met,” says Espinda.

Known for exceptional quality, the restaurant was founded in 1965 by Ruth Fertel, a single mother who spent her life savings to purchase Chris Steak House, a New Orleans eatery. All of the beef at Ruth’s Chris is USDA prime, selected from the top 2 percent in the country. “What sets us apart is that our steaks are served hot,” Espinda explains. “We broil them in a special 1,800-degree oven and serve them on 500-degree plates. When they come out of the kitchen, they come out sizzling.”

  • Executive chef Leighton Miyakawa with entrees that include sauteed mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes, strawberry sorbet, 16-ounce rib-eye, steak house salad and Langtry wine. Photo by Leah Ball.
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That’s a popular word at Ruth’s Chris. The restaurant’s Sizzlin’ Prime Time Menu, a special three-course meal which includes soup or salad, side dish, entree and dessert, is available from 5 to 6 p.m. daily. For $39.95, diners may choose an entree from a list that includes an 8-ounce Petite Filet, Stuffed Chicken Breast, Barbecued Shrimp, and the Chef’s Fresh Island Fish Selection. For $49.95, entree choices include an 11-ounce Filet with Grilled Shrimp a broiled Veal Chop served with hot and sweet peppers, or a 16-ounce Rib-eye.

The selection of side dishes includes Mashed Potatoes, Creamed Spinach, Broccoli, Sauteed Mushrooms, or Local Broiled Tomatoes. Dessert is a choice among ice cream, sorbet or Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce. Diners may add entree complements to their meals as well: bleu cheese crust, au poivre sauce and sweet and hot peppers are all available for $3.95 per selection.

“We’ve noticed that both locals and visitors are taking advantage of this special,” Espinda reports. “We also have Happy Hour from 5 to 7 p.m. daily in our lounge, with appetizer and drink specials (may vary from restaurant to restaurant).” A favorite signature drink is the Ruth’s Chris Sizzlin’ Cosmo ($12.50), made with cranberry juice, Absolut Mandarin, Grand Marnier and sweet and sour, dramatically served in a martini glass and a cloud of smoke.

  • A couple celebrate their wedding anniversary by sampling one of Ruth's Chris Steak House's sweet desserts. Photo courtesy of Ruth's Chris Steak House.
  • The Barbecued Shrimp is one of the entrees diners may select as part of the Sizzlin' Prime Time Menu ($39.95). Photo courtesy of Ruth's Chris Steak House.
  • Ruth's Chris Steak House's much-loved Crabcakes. Photo courtesy of Ruth's Chris Steak House.
  • The steaks at Ruth's Chris are all USDA prime. Photo courtesy of Ruth's Chris Steak House.
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On Ruth’s Chris Wine Wednesdays, the restaurant offers 25 percent off any bottle of wine on its extensive list, which boasts more than 250 domestic and international labels. “That’s been very popular with our guests, as we have a lot of wonderful wines you can’t get in stores,” says Espinda. Recommendations from the restaurant’s extensive selection include Joseph Phelps Cabernet, Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet, and BV Tapestry from Beaulieu Vineyards, a blend of five Bordeaux varietals. Ruth’s Chris also hosts visiting winemakers at tasting dinners and educational sessions.

Each of the restaurant’s five Hawaii locations features separate rooms for groups and parties of 10-50 people, and a special Private Dining Menu for their events. “The rooms are perfect for celebrations and business dinners,” notes Espinda. Like many restaurants, Ruth’s Chris has a website (www.ruth-schris.com); a special site is in development for the Hawaii locations. Each Hawaii restaurant has its own Facebook page, which often includes photos of diners who celebrate special occasions at Ruth’s Chris. “We do a really great job on birthdays!” says Espinda. “When guests come in, we have a glass of champagne waiting for them, flowers on the table, and we give them flaming strawberries. If it’s an anniversary, they get either chocolate-covered strawberries or mini chocolate cupcakes. Our record was probably 50 birthdays and anniversaries in one night!”

Ruth’s Chris Steak House