The Art of Dry-aging at Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar
If there are two things that Vietnamese and Japanese people have in common, it is our avid love affair with beef steak (affectionately termed by locals as Bò bít tết) and the joy an ice-cold pour of quality craft beer brings to our thirsty lips. At the edge of ‘Little Tokyo’ in District 1, on lively Le Thanh Ton Street, Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar have been serving up perfectly seared Australian beef and award winning local craft beers to ravenous fans since opening in May 2018.
The team at MANZO specialise in quality dry-aged beef served alongside an impressive offering of 14 craft beer varietals on tap. I step into the brick, wood, and leather interior of the restaurant and am greeted by MANZO’s Craft Beer Bar - a sleek and intimate 18-seater nook with stone bench top, gold accents, and indoor/outdoor seating. To the right of the main entrance, large cuts of glorious Australian beef hang proudly in MANZO’s state-of-the-art dry-aging cabinet. The hefty meat on display is currently in the dry-aging process, but what does dry-aging actually do to change and improve the quality of the beef that is served to you, and why is dry-aged beef considered such a superior product?
Video source: Kentarou Yamashita
All meat benefits from some amount of aging before being sold and consumed, as it aids greatly in the tenderness and flavour of the product. Chicken needs a few days of aging, while pork and lamb needs a week. Beef however, can be aged for quite a bit longer. The truth is that all of the beef which is served to you in restaurants or sold on supermarket shelves has been aged to some degree, but unless specifically labelled as dry-aged, the vast majority of meat is wet-aged as it is a faster and more cost effective process.
Aging meat is an art form. Similar to wine, cheese and other delicacies that get better with age, meat begins to break down over time to become more tender and flavourful. At MANZO prime cuts are hung in open air within the dry-aging cabinet, at a controlled temperature just above freezing, and left to age for 2-3 weeks. During the dry-aging process the protein begins to dehydrate and loses up to 15% of its total weight due to water evaporation. The loss of moisture in turn causes a more concentrated flavour, which is why dry-aged meatscommonly have a more intense flavour profile. Dry-aging at MANZO elevates beef to a completely new level of taste and the practice is rare to find in Saigon, as most establishments tend to opt for wet-aging.
As we fast approach party season, MANZO offers a selection of great value party banquet menus catered to groups of 4 or more guests. Their premium party menu, at VND500,000++/person, features their signature dry-aged Tomahawk Beef Steak alongside a wide array of hearty dishes to warm the soul and please the palate. A generously arranged wooden board of MANZO’s Assorted Appetizers comes with three types of house made pâté - a sweet bruleed duck pâté that is delectable, a pork pâté that is reminiscent of that found within a delicious Vietnamese banh mi, and a classic chicken pâté that is decadently rich and creamy. Alongside delicate veils of spicy chorizo, salami, prosciutto, and parmesan, the delicious board is the perfect way to start your journey and whet your appetite.
The Spaghetti Bolognese is a fine rendition of the international favourite. The smooth, slippery noodles cooked al dente provide the perfect toothsome bite, and the meat sauce that clings to the pasta is rich and warming, with deep savoury notes that will make you and your guests fight over that last lip-smacking forkfull. But it is the enormous dry-aged Tomahawk Beef Steak that steals the show. Thick slices of Australian beef glistens from their flavourful juices, the dark caramelised crust contrasts beautifully against the deep pink glow that can only be found in a perfectly cooked steak served by experts.
Before savouring the taste of Manzo’s dry-aged Tomahawk, the first thing that blesses your senses is its lavish aroma, which makes you salivate and enter a mental state of ecstasy in a similar way that hot buttered popcorn or freshly baked sourdough does. As you take your first bite you’ll be astounded by how extraordinarily tender the steak really is. The buttery texture of the meat holds a delicate chew and with each bite, more and more of the intoxicating, robust, meaty flavour is released. The dry-aged beef fills the mouth with a deep, earthy, roasted nutty flavour that is so completely incomparable to any ‘regular’ steak. And what to pair with such incredible dishes? An ice cold pour of craft beer of course!
Did Someone Say Beer?
MANZO offers a range of 14 specialty brews that cater to any taste. For those who like it strong, the gold medal winning Imperial IPA Can Tho Bridge by 7 Bridges Brewing Co. has an alluring passion fruit nose that is bright and tantalising, but deep, sharp, and deliciously bitter on the palate and does well to cut through the richness of the tomahawk. For those who like things a little smoother, the bronze medal winning Rooster Dark by Rooster Beers Brewery holds strong coffee, chocolate, and toffee notes without any sweetness on the palate and pleasantly fills the mouth with its gentle smoothness. There is even something special for those that do not ever gravitate towards beer at all with MANZO offering what they classify as a ‘Craft Soda’. The Spicy Ginger by Wild Side Craft Soda is light and spicy with an incredible scent. The craft soda is lighter than a cider, has the perfect touch of sweetness, and provides refreshing ginger beer notes that are eye opening and addictive.
Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar offers indoor and terrace seating, private dining options, and can host and cater large groups of up to 50 guests.
Visit the MANZO website to view the full a la carte and beverage menus.
For a complete list of party menus and for enquiries on large group bookings and exclusive venue hire, contact the MANZO team via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 028 2253 8825
Image source: Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar