Kung Fu Plaza, the oldest and most authentic Thai restaurant in Las Vegas, has become the first Asian restaurant among Las Vegas restaurants to become a Certified Angus Beef licensee. Sysco approved the certification after a six-month review process.
Sysco is one of the largest food distributors in the world, with 89 broad-line operating companies distributing a full line of food products and non-products. The company also distributes a wide variety of specialty fresh-from-the-field flavor to kitchens and restaurants. This includes custom-cut steaks and other meat.
“The certifying company reviewed our purchases for six months and visited our establishment during this period to make sure we were only using certified beef products,” says Alan Wong, general manager of Kung Fu Plaza. “This is a big deal in that we are the first Thai and first Chinese restaurant to become 100-percent, Angus beef certified.”
According to Wong, most Asian restaurants use tenderizers, chemicals, and other methods — such as pounding the meat — to create the illusion of tender meat. However, he says most Asian restaurants also buy the cheapest quality and cut of beef on the market.
“I love to eat steaks and prime rib when I go to other restaurants, but never order it at a Chinese or Thai restaurant because I am never sure of the quality,” he says. “You can destroy a dish if you don’t use the best quality of beef available. My ancestors did not use the cheapest meats so it doesn’t make sense for my family to serve the cheapest meats to our customers.”
When asked if he thought many Asian restaurants choose lower quality meats to keep costs down, Wong said he did not think so.
Most dishes on his restaurant’s menu average about $10 per entree. The only reason for an Asian restaurant to order inexpensive meats is to increase its profit margin or because sometimes such meats are more readily available.
“Two of our most popular dishes have always been our Mongolian beef and spicy beef salad,” Wong says. “We have never used any other method to tenderize the meat other than buying the best Angus beef available.”
Certified Angus Beef is considered the world’s premier brand of beef, usually known for its superior standards for marbling, tenderness, and leanness. Angus cattle are also evaluated by the USDA and never by independent graders or plant employees.
“Less than 8 percent of all beef can earn the brand’s approval for flavor and juiciness,” Wong says. “The beef must also pass 10 quality standards before it can be called Angus beef.”
These ten standards include marbling, texture, color, uniformity, and quality. The standards also ensure a uniform and consistent cut of steak. Scientists, researchers, and academics, along with several generations of cattlemen who pursued a superior cut of beef in 1978, developed the qualifications.