I met with Lloyd Lewis, General Manager of Woolomooloo Prime, the shining buckle on the belt of the Wooloomooloo Steakhouse Group. Lloyd described to me the chic decor of the restaurant which, located on the top floor of The One shopping mall in TST, commands a truly breathtaking view of its surrounding Kowloon as well as Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island. We discussed the concept behind the cuisine offered at Wooloomooloo Prime and I learned a bit about the menu, which is dominated by Australian and U.S. steaks but which also has a wide selection of seafood platters, fish dishes and other house specialties to satisfy less blood-thirsty guests.
Lloyd also walked me through the mostly New World based wine list, 25% of which is made up of Australian labels to match the Australian beef, and explained to me why he has chosen to put the red wines first on the list instead of the usual sparkling wines. Finally, we talked a bit about the wine consumption trends that Lloyd has noticed among his clientele, and about which regions and varieties his customers tend to order the most. When asked to choose a signature dish and wine pairing, Lloyd chose the Australian Wagyu Tomahawk steak with the Torbreck “The Steading” Shiraz. Sounds to me like a carnivore’s dream come true!
Our interview follows:
My name is Lloyd Lewis. I am the General Manager for Wooloomooloo Prime in the Wooloomooloo Steakhouse Group. I was here to open this restaurant, the latest edition to the Wooloomooloo group in Hong Kong. It commands the top floor of The One shopping mall in TST.
Please tell me a bit about the concept behind the menu at Wooloomooloo Steakhouse. What kind of cuisine do you offer here?
Primarily we are an Australian steakhouse. We bring in a lot of high-end steaks from Queensland and Victoria in Australia. We also import fresh seafood from Australia and Europe. We bring in things like fresh clams from Cloudy Bay and barramundi from Australia. So we have a very nice menu, but primarily we are a steakhouse. In addition to Australian beef, we have sirloin and rib-eye steaks from the U.S. and everything from filet mignon up to our 2 kg. Australian Wagyu beef.
How is the cuisine offered here different from that of the other restaurants in the Wooloomooloo Group?
We are pretty similar. In Wooloomooloo Prime, we command a prime location and we have more steaks, more variety on seafood. We also do this nice Australian Wagyu steak which is from 350 day grain-fed beef and which the other restaurants do not do. We do big seafood platters. As I mentioned before, we do a bit more specials, such as clams from New Zealand. But overall we are pretty much the same. We command a bigger venue in a prime position and we have a much larger wine list. Overall, a larger selection.
And a bit about the décor, how does it fit in with the concept behind Wooloomooloo Prime?
We have a lot of timber, quite neutral colors. We have floor-to-ceiling glass windows so we allow in a lot of daylight. We have a lot of logs as decorations around, and also a VIP table that is all made of natural tree from Bali and 3 high tables using the same timber. The wine cellars are of wood as well; the only really splashy color is the red leather seats that we have in the dining room, so the colors do not detract from the view, especially at night when all the lights are on. So you don’t get reflective tablecloths, for example. It’s a very nice, chic décor.
It would be a bit difficult to detract from this view anyway… Please tell me a bit about the wine list. Is it mostly made up of Old or New World wines? Is any particular region given preference?
We cover a bit of everything on our wine list. Being an Australian steakhouse, I lean a little bit heavier towards Australian labels and we also have a nice variety of New Zealand labels. Of course, we have some good classic French labels as well – we cannot dismiss that. And I’ve just introduced some German Rieslings and red and white wines from Portugal as well. But as an Australian steakhouse, I’d say about 25% of the list is made up of Australian labels.
And overall how would you say this wine list complements the cuisine? Besides Australian wines, would you say that any other particular region complements the cuisine very well?
I would say the majority of the people that come here take the Australian labels. Our other popular regions are Argentina…They love the big Malbecs. Chilean wines go well, I think the fruitiness appeases the Chinese palate very well. But my Australian labels complement the food the best. We have a lot of rib-eyes, some nice marbling and higher fat content in those meats, and we find that a lot of the pairing goes towards big Shiraz from Australia, big Burgundies go there as well. But the whole wine list is geared around complementing the steak.
And how is the wine list physically arranged, by region or variety?
By country. We start with Australia as the biggest section and it ends up with Chile and Argentina at the back end.
And I’ve also noticed that your wine list is different from some of the others we’ve seen in the city in that the red wines appear in front of the champagnes and the sparklings. Why did you choose this arrangement?
I think if people are looking for champagne, they will search for it themselves. We put the red wines first because with our cuisine and our style of delivery here, the majority of the people do take red wines. So we put it at the forefront of the menu. We have a “Wine of the Month” promotion every month and it’s usually around a nice red label, a boutique winery. But I think people who want a white wine, they will search for it to start with and we can always advise them. I love helping people navigate through the wine list. But the we start with the reds because it’s a steakhouse.
And have you noticed any trends in regions that restaurant clients seem to order from the most? You’ve mentioned that around 25% of the list is Australian. Is that what guests also tend to ask for the most when they come to Wooloomooloo Prime?
Yes, they are the strongest selling labels. We have a lot of Parker-rated labels in the Australian section. The Italian reds always go very well, as well as New Zealand whites and reds which are also pretty popular, Sauvignon Blancs. People do like the Chilean wines and the Argentinian wines. But I would say Australia and New Zealand are the strongest labels overall.
And within the regions, is there a trend in which varieties customers seem to prefer?
I think Shiraz probably leads the way. A lot of people like to come in to try the Argentinian Malbecs, but overall the Shiraz is the big winner. In fact, even with our promotional wines I normally tend to head towards the Shiraz range.
And if you could pick one pairing of a dish with a wine that would best represent Wooloomooloo Prime, which would it be and why?
My overall favorite steak in this restaurant would have to be the Wagyu Tomahawk Steak. It has great marbling and beautiful fat content. It’s a fantastic steak. And with that I would have to go with my Torbreck Shiraz, The Steading. It’s a great wine. I love Torbreck labels and it’s one of our biggest players among our reds.
Not for vegetarians then?
Well thank you so much for your time.
My pleasure. Thank you.