The Irvine Brazilian wagyu experience

Freshly cooked and cut A5 wagyu steak served on a sizzling hot pink Himalayan salt rock from Fogo de Chao in the Irvine Spectrum Center. Kiyyaa Semeret | Lariat

If you’re looking for a fine dining experience for two that would make your friends and family envious, then the twenty-four-ounce wagyu ancho steak may be your next date night dinner. Those who are feeling carnivorous or just want to live a little don’t have to travel far in the local Orange County area.

Fogo De Chao, in the Irvine Spectrum, is one of the sixty-two high-end Brazilian steakhouse chains found around the world. One of its staple meals is the premium grade 24oz. ribeye wagyu. With a price point of one-hundred-sixty-five dollars, this meal will make your stomach feel like a million dollars.

Orange County is no stranger to steakhouses, but I guarantee your tastebuds have never experienced anything quite like this. Yes, this beats your grandad’s family recipe and marinade for your meats but not for the reasons you think.

For those who aren’t aware of wagyu steak, this beef is the most prime cut of beef that money can currently buy. The cows that produce these grades of cuts of beef can only be found in Japan, living a life of luxury and peace before they are butchered.

As an industry practice, you typically are served wagyu with little to no condiments, seasoning, and or dips. Due to the sheer amount of marble found within each cut of A5-graded beef (Wagyu), you will typically eat the steak with only salt and pepper due to its large amount of flavor.

Fogo De Chao takes this standard practice but enhances it. The steak cooks on a sizzling hot pink Himalayan salt rock slab and then served to you on the same slab! This ensures that the meat will stay seasoned and warm during the entire cooking process to your stomach.

Being paired with a handful of some of Brazil’s greatest stable side dishes, your palate will thank you for the decision. Trigger warning to any vegans or vegetarians from this point on, you have been warned.

While sitting in the dark yet lively ambiance of the dining hall my mind couldn’t be any more excited for the meal, constantly looking around for what may resemble my dish. While waiting I was served complimentary mineral water and sides.

The first side was a warm pao de queijo, essentially Brazilian cheesy bread rolls that are worth the carbs. Next, I was served polenta, a southern Brazilian dish brought from Italian immigrants that is corn meal style fry.

To add a little bit of sweetness to the very savory meal, you are also served a side of caramelized bananas that adds a great mix. The last side was a serving of garlic mashed potatoes, a classic dish with a little Brazilian twist.

By this point, you’d think one would be full, but knowing the price of the meal, your stomach will make the room, not to mention that the food itself is good enough to be a final meal.

While trying to wash down the assortment of side dishes, nearly all of my senses were wired to the sizzling hot salt rock that was placed in front of me. The only way I could explain its initial presentation was that of fajitas or skillets, loud sizzling that attracts eyes around you.

The server cutting the steak leaves you to only pick up your utensils and eat. Ordering the steak at rare, I was greeted with the juiciest and most flavorful bite of steak I’ve had in a long time.

A slight char on the outside from the searing process with a soft and tender inside makes for one of the most divine eating experiences. The texture quickly goes from a savory crunch on the initial bite and melts away in your mouth.

Every bite from the steak was better and better, for every piece that you grab, the others will rest and stay warm while also being more seasoned. Before I knew it, I was already done with all the food on the table and waiting for the check.

There are many great steak house chains around the country but very few tend to keep the consistency of their food from kitchen to kitchen. This being my sixth time having this steak from three different locations, I can guarantee that it is worth its price point.

So next time you’re looking for a place to take a special someone or a place to celebrate your next birthday, consider Fogo De Chao at the Irvine Spectrum for your next destination. With only around sixty locations, I’d suggest that anyone in the OC area take advantage of this experience.