Alexander’s Steakhouse is a small chain with locations in the San Francisco area, Taipei, and Tokyo in addition to the Pasadena location. They are also looking at opening a spot in the Newport Beach/Coast area in the future.
What sets Alexander’s apart from many other steakhouses is the number of Japanese wagyu cuts being offered. Many steakhouses will usually only offer Matsuzaka or Miyazaki cuts. Although nearly everybody has at least heard of the infamous “Kobe” beef, that is not the only breed/type of Japanese wagyu. Kobe beef primarily refers to Japanese wagyu from the Kobe prefecture, with certain specifications that need to be met naturally.
The menu has a slight Japanese flavor to it.
The meal started off with Chilled Foie Gras. The presentation of the dish caught me totally off guard, as I was not expecting this. It was paired with rhubarb marshmallows, sweet potatoes and pickled celery. There is usually some sweet element in a foie gras dish to cut through the richness and “mineral” taste, but this was over the top sweet in my opinion. It was like a liver dessert, and not in a good way.
The signature Hamachi Shots were up next. The amber jack was firm and meaty, and was paired with dashi, avocado, fresno chiles, ponzu, green onions, and arare. There was too much going on with this dish, and the Hamachi got lost in the mix. The chiles were not spicy at all, so this was a one note type dish.
Bread was brought out to the table and included fantastic cheese bread, squid ink bread, and little balls reminiscent of unfilled cream puffs. The cheese bread was so good, we asked for more but was informed that there would be an extra charge. Kind of petty and a slap in the face when you are paying these types of prices in my opinion.
The “spreads” included rendered beef fat, which sounds disgusting, but was absolutely fabulous. Salted butter and a honey butter rounded out the trio.
The Asparagus Salad included white asparagus that had been cooked via confit to retain its subtleness. The green asparagus had been charred to bring out even more bitterness. The dressing was a yuzu brown butter to add another note of flavor.
The Nettle & Green Garlic Soup looked like a huge shot of wheatgrass. Nettle is poisonous when uncooked like Poison Ivy, but when cooked that effect goes away. What left is a chlorophyll punch with a peppery after taste. The soup had no real depth of flavor, just enough “green” to get your fill for the week.
We ordered the T-Bone, bone marrow, and the A5 Shiga Ohmi from Japan.
The Ohmi came with a tasting of 6 different salts as well.
The T-Bone was cooked to a nice medium rare. The char marks added a depth of flavor, while the meat itself was juicy and had a nice beefy flavor.
The bone marrow is what you would expect. Pure fatty, bone butter goodness.
The star of the show, the Ohmi, was also cooked to a perfect medium rare. With the amount of fat, the taste is subtler. It has an earthy richness, with a slight mineral flavor associated with grass fed beef. The steak is super soft and literally melts in your mouth.
The Fried Rice was a very generous portion. The sweetness from the lap xuong sausage, counter acted the small punch from the chives. The egg whites seemed to add more “meatiness” to the dish than whole eggs would have. This was a winner.
The Truffle Fried Potatoes were nice and blistered, slightly crisp on the outside and creamy in the middle. The togarashi and furikake got lost in this dish.
The Eryngi (King Trumpet) Mushrooms are large and meaty. Normally the stems in oyster mushrooms are inedible as they are very woody, with the King Trumpet being an exception. Despite the score marks in the mushrooms to help tenderize them, they were woody and felt like I was biting into sturdy Styrofoam.
The Cookies ‘n Cream Souffle is a smash hit in the Yelp! world. The soufflé is lighter than most, thanks mainly to sticking with less flour. Although decent, I am not sure what the buzz is about. It kind of tasted like a baked meringue. The ice cream sandwiches were pretty good though.
The meal ended with some petit fours, which were okay but nothing special.
Service was full of pretense. Our server, who also claimed to be the “maître d” could not stop spouting off how much he knew about Japanese wagyu to anybody who would listen. He was a nice guy, but just too full of himself. The party next to us included a guy who played basketball at the gym with one of the managers, so he felt compelled to kiss their ass all night long as well.
We weren’t offered the cotton candy that everybody else was, and dishes were often served without an explanation, which is kind of hard to believe given how much the guy liked hearing himself talk.
It’s worth coming here for the cheese bread, they wagyu and the fried rice. This place is severely overpriced in my opinion as well. I have no problems with paying for good food, but Alexander’s missed the mark on many levels.