Epoch Times: How long do you dry age your steaks?
Mr. Kevin Lee: A lot of people look for dry-aged because of the flavor and tenderness. A lot of places go for four weeks, five weeks. What I do is, I go a little longer, usually seven weeks, start building up more flavor than four weeks or less.
At three and a half to four weeks, steaks build up some flavor and tenderness, but not much. They’ve barely started.
You could go longer and enjoy gamier, funkier, nuttier flavors on top of the tenderness but you also have to think about the loss. If you go further you’re drying out the beef from outside to the inside, so you have to cut off all the parts outside that built up all this mold and fungus that are part of the natural process of aging.
Epoch Times: What about your dry-aged lamb?
Mr. Lee: They’re small pieces so I don’t need to go to seven weeks. Right about two or three weeks, you can taste the dry-aged flavor on top of the nice lamb chop flavor. It’s a similar process, a little shorter.
Epoch Times: What is best way to enjoy dry-aged cuts?
Mr. Lee: Dry-aged steaks, especially the USDA Prime grade that I bring from the market, don’t actually need any extra, unnecessary ingredients such as butter. At least that’s what I think. USDA Prime originally has lots of marbling. The marbling makes the flavor.
Just sear in cast iron, use nice sea salt or kosher salt, freshly ground peppercorn, that’s all you need. That’s a simple solution for steak.
I don’t like butter. I really don’t like it. A lot of my customers come back here because I’m not using other stuff. Other restaurants use butter, but I don’t want it. If you want to bring more flavor because you have a lower-grade steak, that’s a different taste and that’s up to the chef.
When you buy Select or Choice [grades], you’re not going to enjoy as much flavor or tenderness as Prime. So you have to put something on it, like a sauce.
Epoch Times: What are the unique touches that you bring to Prime & Beyond?
Mr. Lee: Back in 2003 my brother Q started a small butcher shop [in New Jersey]. Now we have a second location. It’s just a small, family-owned, steak place with our own way of doing things. There’s more of a personal touch, not like the big steak places.
Also, I’m Korean but I’ve lived in America for half of my life. We do have mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, asparagus, but I also bring in all these Korean side dishes like kimchi and scallion salad. In New Jersey we have more Korean items.
We only do simple veggies. I like to use olive oil, herbs like rosemary, sometimes garlic. I just sauté or grill them. Sometimes we use a dressing based on soy sauce. Simple is the best.
Epoch Times: What’s your favorite cut?
Mr. Lee: My favorite cut is a New York strip. Most people like New York strip; now I see a rib-eye trend.
But you know for me, personally, I’d go for a strip, because I need to have a little more of a beefy taste and a little tougher texture. And the flavor is a little stronger than a rib-eye, I think. It’s just the right amount of fat. So I like bone-in strip.
I like it as rare as possible, seared on the outside. I don’t grill it more than 2–3 minutes.
[To diners] I recommend rare to medium-rare. If you cook it more, you’re going to lose a lot of juice, that’s for sure. That’s why medium-well to well-done steak is very tough and hard. It’s like a sauna—you go in there, you start sweating. You’re taking the moisture out of your body because it’s too hot. Same thing with steak. You’re taking all the juice, the moisture out of the steak—it’s 850 to 900 degree Fahrenheit grill.
Prime & Beyond
90 E. 10th St.
Monday–Thursday 5 p.m.–11 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 5 p.m.–midnight
Sunday 5 p.m.–10 p.m.