From city to city around the world, you can go to a steakhouse and pretty much know what you’re going to get: shrimp cocktail, wedge salads, big steaks, mashed potatoes and Manhattans. If a steakhouse is going to set itself apart, though, it has to do something special. Case in point: The Steak House at the InterContinental Hong Kong, where customization goes beyond which steak you want and how you’d like it prepared. At this Michelin-starred shrine to beef, choose your cut (from one of five countries)… then choose the knife you’re going to use to take it down.
Each table gets a few presentations throughout the evening. One details special salts, one goes over a variety of mustards, and the first and most important introduces a choice of 10 steak knives (11 if you count both color options for the Laguiole). Contrary to what you may be thinking, choosing the perfect knife is less about the steak you’re about to eat and more about how it fits into your hand. “We want them to hold the knife with more comfort,” says Franco Leung, general manager of The Steak House. “Then they enjoy it more, because the steak is more perfect.”
If you’ve got a big, meaty paw, the servers will steer (pardon the pun) you towards the classic American “Nevada Steak Knife” with an ergonomically-designed wooden handle. For ladies, they’ll suggest one of the Laguiole selections since over 90% of the women that come in choose that on their own. Knife selection also breaks down along national lines. Germans usually choose one of the German knives, Japanese traditionally go with the samurai-inspired Shun or the carbon and stainless steel model from Global and Italians tend toward the buffalo horn-handled Berti or Sambonet’s glass fiber and resin-handled T-bone steak knife. British guests, however, are out of luck and make that displeasure known in classic UK groaning-and-mumbling style.
But if you really want to cut your steak, do it like a samurai. Regardless of where a diner hails from, the most requested knife in the restaurant is the Shun, made from VG10 super-steel with an ebony pakkawood handle, made in the same style as the legendary samurai swords of Seki in Japan’s Gifu prefecture. On the other end of the spectrum is the Picea from Germany. Designed to appeal to the smaller hands of Asian women — the restaurant’s words, not mine — this knife barely gets off the bench because the Laguiole serves the same purpose but happens to be much more eye-catching.
Overall, your choice of knife is just as personal as your choice of steak. It’s important to take into account the way the handle feels in your hand as well as the style of the blade and the weight of the knife overall. The most important factor, however, is whether or not you feel like a badass holding it. If the answer is yes, then steak away.
Here’s their entire knife collection:
More knives on Food Republic: