It is no secret that I have been a fan of Capo, ever since dining there for their DiningCity Shanghai Restaurant Week menu. What won me over was the great decor, the amazing food and the fabulous attitude of their head chef owner, Enzo Carbone. This time I was invited back for a private tasting of their new Grade 9 Wagyu from Mayura Station.
Firstly, I would like to thank once again, chef Enzo and operations manager Martin for the generous invitation and hospitality.
To be honest, I would have been content with a wagyu sirloin steak for each of my guests along with some anti-pasti. Instead, I was treated to a gargantuan feast that evening. For that, I am very grateful because I had previously said that it would’ve been one of my wish to try the tomahawk steak at Capo, but because of its RMB2888 price tag, I probably wouldn’t have the chance to. This time, and unbeknownst to them, on the 3rd day after my birthday, I not only got to taste the tomahawk steak, but the tomahawk steak was a new Grade 9 wagyu from Mayura Station, Australia.
For some background information about my previous visit to Capo, please refer here.
I was pleased to see that they had improved upon the points I had mentioned previously. The lighting is more comfortably brighter now, and the arugula salad was more adequately dressed and seasoned.
Since this was an invited tasting, I will base the service score on the previous un-invited visit’s service score, since the service experience remained the same. Otherwise I would usually give first time invited visits an unbiased score of 7.
But this is not why you are reading this article for. You want to know about that amazing Mayura Station Grade 9 Wagyu. You want to know if you have some important guests that you want to impress in Capo, what kind of food / experience would they get.
Our evening started with a glass of prosecco. A little sweet and light. Perfect. Shortly after, freshly baked house bread was served together with balsamic and extra virgin olive oil — Signs of an italian restaurant who take care of even the smallest details.
The Seafood platter.
This was where my surprised began. The next starter was an entire seafood platter of fresh air flown seafood. Actually, it was kind of interesting because I’m pretty sure some of the items on the platter are more Japanese inspired, and aren’t an ‘Italian thing’. For example, the salmon and tuna sashimi, along with the amaebi (sweet shrimp) and botan shrimps. There was also half a lobster, Gillardeau oysters, scallop sashimi and a crab (dungeness?). Everything was as fresh as the could be. Any fresher and you would have to be on the fishing boat.
Capo has their seafood air flown into Shanghai every Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. That means that pretty much on any given day, the seafood at Capo is as fresh as it can be.
The French Gillardeau oysters tasted briny and definitely as the cliche goes: tastes of the ocean. Quite plump and meaty. A little vinaigrette was provided, which I thought didn’t do much for the already delectable oyster.
The lobster in particular was perfectly poached. Cooked through, but the the tail meat was tender and slightly bouncy at the same time, and so so sweet. I’ve had lobster a number of times, and this was one of the best execution ever, even though it was simply poached; Poaching a lobster is very tricky because lobster is a very delicate protein to work with. You have to shock it in ice water immediately after poaching to stop the cooking process, otherwise it becomes over cooked and instantly becomes rubber.
I’m usually not a fan of raw shrimp, but I did try the ones on the platter that evening, and thought they tasted quite pleasant. Needless to say, everything was devoured very quickly by the 4 of us. The seafood platter was definitely a showstopper. 9/10
Next up was an arugula salad with some mozzarella and parma ham. I believe this was more as a palate cleanser. The arugula was fresh and crisp, and pleasantly bitter as usual. In my previous visit, I had commented that they needed to take note to provide enough dressing on the arugula salads so the bites will not be too bitter. This time there was enough dressing on every bite. I believe they were using their super aged balsamic vinegar, which was much sweeter than the usual balsamic vinegar.
The tomatoes were plump and sweet. While I could taste the quality of the arugula and tomatoes, I felt that the mozzarella and ham were quite average and nothing to call out for. 8/10
Spaghetti ala vongole
This was the only disappointment of the evening. Unfortunately, the pasta was undercooked. This was quite a careless mistake for an italian restaurant, because pasta to an italian restaurant is like white rice to a chinese restaurant. Cooking pasta is generally quite fool proof especially when it is dried pasta. Our spaghetti that evening could have used another 30 seconds in the water to reach the al dente state; It had abit too much bite in the center. The other complaint was that there wasn’t much clam flavour in the pasta. I could taste the white wine sauce, but really very little ‘seafood taste’ as you would usually get from a vongole. The greens didn’t quite help elevate the dish either. This was a far cry from the seafood pasta I had during Restaurant Week. There were about 3 clams, and they tasted fresh, but other than that, there was nothing good I could say about the dish, and therefore I can only award this dish a 6.5/10
THE Tomahawk Grade 9 Wagyu from Mayura Station, Australia.
The Pièce de résistance. The best steak and beef that I have tasted in my life, so far.
Thank you for making my dream come true. With great beef comes great prices, this tomahawk steak costs RMB2888. That said, it can feed 3-4 persons comfortably. So for a top of the line wagyu, this is actually quite cheap for its grade.
One other thing worth noting is that the grade 9 wagyu from Mayura Station is from a full blood cow. What that means is that every piece of beef is from a cow that is bred from 2 wagyu cows, as opposed to the usual wagyu outside of japan, which are known as Purebreds, but are bred from a wagyu cow crossed with another breed of cattle like Angus. The grade 9 means that the cow has a marbling grade of 9, the top score being 12. This means that the Mayura Station Grade 9 Wagyu beef at Capo is one of the best beef that money can buy, let alone in Shanghai.
The enormous Tomahawk is carved up and served tableside within minutes.
After which, the entire platter is slided into the center of our tables without knocking anyone’s dinnerware. Nice.
Served with the beautiful beef are some roasted carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and beets, along with the usual roasted garlic and onions, all of whom try very, very hard to live up to the beef’s standards. All in all, they did okay, except for the beets. That might be a personal preference, but like many people I know, I don’t like the very nutty soil taste of beets.
I particularly liked the potatoes, which were very well seasoned and a little waxy with a slight crisp. The carrots looked beautiful and tasted sweet, accented with a sprinkle of Parmigiano. Since the sides were a major component on their own, I think it would be good to give them their own rating, of which I give a 8/10
The actual beef was done a beautiful medium rare. I usually have my steaks medium, but for this grade of beef, having it medium rare is the way to go.
Long story short, this is the best and most mind-blowing piece of beef I have ever set my eyes on, and placed in my mouth.
Contrary to popular belief, a top of the line wagyu does not end up feeling very fatty and heavy in the mouth. Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely rich and fat, but very balanced, and not like eating a piece of fatty meat.
When I first tasted the initial piece, i tasted sweetness. The meat had a beautiful charred aroma on the crust, achieved by the applewood ovens at Capo. The ruby red flesh was sweet, and had fat marbling laced in-between the tissue. The meat gave very little resistance to chewing, and very swiftly, disintegrated in the mouth, sliding down the throat quickly with its own fatty juices.
On subsequent bites, I learnt to appreciate the medium rare texture and the delicate flavour of the beef. There was no strong beefy taste in this meat. It was almost divine. I felt tears slowly swelling up in my eyes. Tears of joy because it was so good, but also because I don’t know if I will ever taste anything better than this. Dab a piece of the beef with just a speck of sea salt, and you will enjoy another flavour profile.
My goodness. If you have one thing to try in 2014, this is the dish to try, because it is a 10/10 on my scale of food awesomeness.
The steak went very well with a 2010 bottle of Chianti. An absolutely delightful bottle of red that is easy to drink but still has some very interesting flavour profiles.
One minor issue with the experience that night, was that the Laguiole steak knives, were not sharp. As branded and cool looking as they may be, we had trouble cutting against the grain of the beef with the knives, for all 4 of us at the table. This was a shame, because it was the only thing that tried to stop us from enjoying our lovely steaks. Please sharpen the knives!
Chocolate soufflé with figs.
Perfectly executed soufflé. Well risen, and not too sweet nor rich on the chocolate side. This was devoured in seconds by the 4 of us. The ice cream was ok, but the fig was bland. Need to find some sweeter figs. 8/10
Dessert platter with Creme Brulee, Mille-feuille, Sorbet, Tiramisu and Panna Cotta.
All very good. Creme brûlée had a nice caramelized crispy top layer, and a warm and comforting inside.
The mille-feuille had a very lovely hazelnut cream. The raspberry, like all raspberries, was sour. The Panna Cotta was well balanced and not too sweet. That said, I’ve had better panna cottas that stood on their own on a plate, and not in a bowl. 8/10
With the exception of the pasta, the experience was all around fantastic. The steak was flawless. I will think back of that tomahawk steak in the years to come. I will definitely make an opportunity to eat it again at Capo, and I really wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same, at least once.
The last I heard, earlier this week, they sold out their steaks and seafood within 30mins of dinner service, so make a reservation and tell them what you want in advance!