The Big ‘Reveal’Ono, You Know
May 13, 2018
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
In Italy, it floats in a rich wine sauce in the delicacy osso buco; in Austria and Germany, it’s breaded and pan-fried into delectable Wiener schnitzel. You may have guessed by now that veal is shifting into Ono, You Know‘s spotlight this week, and I couldn’t have asked for a more luxurious bite to pursue.
Veal, or young calf, embodies la creme de la creme of what carnivores seek out in a slab of meat: it’s both nice and lean yet melt-in-your-mouth tender. Though people have shied away from eating this controversial cut in the past, veal is making a comeback thanks to widespread improvements in industry standards that have seen more humanely raised, grass-fed and free-range options become available to restaurants, as reported by The New York Times and Bon Appetit.
So where are the best places on island to get your veal fix? I’ve found that steak houses and Italian restaurants are winners in this department, so that’s exactly what I’ve lined up for you this week — with a focus on veal chops, in particular, because you know that bone-in flavor just can’t be beat!
‘MEAT’ YOUR MATCH
At Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Veal Chop on the menu brings the “wow” factor you’d expect from a fine-dining establishment.
Like all of the restaurant’s succulent slabs, the veal is graded USDA Prime, meaning it’s part of the top tier when it comes to flavor, marbling, texture and tenderness.
At Ruth’s Chris, the bone-in chop is broiled to perfection at 1,800 degrees for unmatched sizzle. Executive chef Eser Domingo explains that the chop, priced at $50, is enhanced with a veal demi butter sauce, then topped with vinegary sweet and hot peppers for a well-rounded flavor profile. He adds that part of the appeal of veal is its clean, subtle beef flavor, which isn’t the slightest bit gamy.
As for the perfect steak-house sides to accompany your meal? You really can’t go wrong at Ruth’s Chris, but Creamed Spinach ($14) and garlic Mashed Potatoes ($13) are especially soul-satisfying. And if you’re left craving more, there’s also Veal Osso Buco Ravioli priced at $21.
You can visit Ruth’s Chris locally on Oahu at Waterfront Plaza or in Waikiki (there also are locations on Big Island, Maui and Kauai). The Hawaii restaurants are part of a group of more that 150 Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses around the world, which were originally founded in 1965 by Ruth Fertel.
‘CHOP’ TILL YOU DROP
From marsala to piccata, scaloppini to saltimbocca, you’ll find that Italian preparations are among the most popular ways to enjoy veal. That’s why this article wouldn’t be complete without a lovely Italian take on our star meat of the day.
Locally, one of my go-to spots is Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar, where authentic Italian flavors are served within a casually elegant dining space at Waikiki’s Royal Hawaiian center. The restaurant is known for making its own pasta, catering to patrons with an award-winning wine list, and offering goodies like prosciutto de Parma at its salumi station, where the chefs slice their own deli meat. (Great to know: The selection currently features exclusive Spanish Iberico cured ham.)
In the veal department, look no further than Veal Chop ($50), placed on a bed of spaghetti dressed in aglio olio, a garlic olive oil sauce speckled with chili flakes.
The meat is a high-quality certified chop from the Royal Dutch brand out of Holland, which dates back to 1885 and is distributed by T. Boer & zn. After trimming the whole racks that come in to Il Lupino, executive chef Adam Kekahuna says his team will massage the meat to ensure it’s nice and soft before seasoning it and throwing it on the grill.
In addition to the fabulous char, the dish gains depth of flavor through truffle shavings and porcini mushrooms.
“Veal is such a tender and moist meat, and it’s very versatile,” adds Kekahuna.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the amazing mamas out there, including mine! If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for Mom — and if she happens to be a vino connoisseur — you may just want to reserve a spot for the next dinner and wine pairing event June 21 at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Waterfront Plaza. The special five-course meal will highlight Caymus wines. Call 599-3860 to make a reservation. And if you’re looking for a last-minute spot to take Mom out today, it may not be too late to revel in Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar’s special menu for the holiday. Call 922-3400.