WITH its dark wood paneling, pristine tablecloths and mood lighting, this newly opened steakhouse in the integrated resort City of Dreams Manila can be a bit intimidating. Ruby Jack’s is designed like a Western steakhouse but its origins are in Tokyo and this is actually its first branch outside Japan.
Businessman Frederick Siy initially had no plans of bringing in the restaurant as his hands were already full as the franchise holder of Seattle’s Best Coffee and Kenny Rogers Roasters. He had also just opened the Singaporean bistro Erwin’s Gastrobar near Ruby Jack’s, as well as Courtyard 88, a hotel on Roxas Boulevard, Manila.
“If I had more money, I’d probably build more hotels. They require a big initial capital expense but they’re easier to maintain,” he told Inquirer Lifestyle recently. It’s a telling comment and one he explains concisely.
“Our original target for Ruby Jack’s was the VIP market composed of casino high rollers but that didn’t pan out,” Siy said. “There was a huge drop in tourist arrivals middle of this year. Now 90 percent of our customers are locals who found out about the steak-centric restaurant through word of mouth.”
Fresh chilled, never frozen
The beef at the restaurant is mainly from the United States and Japan, although it also offer Japanese Wagyu, which is very popular.
Siy said that Ruby Jack’s does not have frozen meat, only fresh-chilled cuts, some of which are visible in the refrigerated glass showcase next to the open kitchen.
“We also don’t store meat for very long; two months is the longest,” said Siy. “Our expat restaurant manager can recommend specific cuts while our foreign chef can grill the meat to your preferred doneness.”
Another highlight is what he calls the “multi-million peso box,” a temperature-controlled glass showcase carrying 900 wines including the exorbitantly priced Pétrus, among others.
For first-time visitors who come in groups of three or four, he personally recommends ordering the Japanese Wagyu and the John Dee black Angus to get a taste of what Ruby Jack’s best dishes.
“Wagyu is really buttery with its high ratio of marbled fat to lean meat,” said Siy. “It’s delicious but it’s like eating foie gras (goose liver). Those who prefer something meatier and more flavorful can’t go wrong with the black Angus.”
Steak may be the star at Ruby Jack’s but the sides and the starters are also worth the splurge. We sampled the sizzling scallops that had been fished out of a glass tank just minutes before.
Its boutique tomatoes—simply halved and topped with shaved red onion and Gorgonzola—were surprisingly sweet. Apparently, the sugar content of these tomatoes is higher than that of ripe strawberries. There is also a decadent mac ‘n’ cheese topped with flaked lobster.
If you want impress your date, order the fresh imported oysters served several ways: freshly shucked; topped with spinach and cheese (Rockefeller); with salmon roe calamansi ponzu; or perched on a glass of calamansi-spiked Bloody Mary.
“All things considered, this is the best steakhouse in the country,” Siy said.
Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse & Bar is at Unit 210, Upper Ground floor, City of Dreams Manila. Call 801-8888.