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Steak doneness, which refers to the degree to which the meat is cooked, is a crucial aspect of the culinary experience. It not only directly influences the taste and texture but also the overall enjoyment of this beloved dish—from the succulent juiciness of rare steak to the well-done firmness, each level of doneness offers a distinct gastronomic adventure.


While it is common to be excited about savouring a perfectly cooked steak at a steakhouse, selecting the ideal level of doneness can be a daunting task for many diners. In this guide, we will delve into the various degrees of steak doneness and important factors to consider when selecting them.



Rare steak features a cool or warm red center with a soft, tender texture. Cooked briefly at high heat, this level of doneness retains maximum juiciness and offers bold, beefy flavours.


Medium-Rare (54-57°C)

Medium-rare steak has a warm red center with a slightly firmer texture compared to rare. It offers a perfect balance of tenderness and juiciness, making it a popular choice among many steak enthusiasts.


Medium (60-63°C)

Medium steak presents a pink center with a firmer texture than medium-rare. It has well-developed flavours and retains a good amount of juiciness, appealing to those who prefer a more substantial bite.


Medium-Well (65-68°C)

Medium-well steak features a hint of pink in the center and a firmer texture. While it lacks the juiciness of medium or medium-rare, it offers a well-cooked interior with a slight tenderness.


Well-Done (71°C or higher)

Well-done steak is cooked thoroughly, with little to no pink in the center and a firm texture. It is suitable for those who prefer their steak fully cooked but may sacrifice most of juiciness and tenderness.


Important Factors to Consider when Choosing Steak Doneness

#1: Personal Preference

When it comes to factors influencing the choice of steak doneness, it is no surprise that personal preference is the primary factor. Some diners may prefer the succulent juiciness of rare or medium- rare steak, while others may opt for the well-cooked firmness of medium-well or well-done steak. Understanding your preferences is key, and communicating them to the staff is essential in creating a satisfying dining experience. If you’re unsure about which level of doneness to choose at Tomahawk Contemporary Steakhouse, do not hesitate to ask for recommendations to help you make an informed decision.


#2: Choice of Cut

Aside from personal preference, different cuts of meat may lend themselves better to certain levels of doneness. Tougher cuts often require less cooking time, while fattier cuts, with the exception of high-grade Wagyu, benefit from longer cooking for a more flavourful bite. Meanwhile, thin cuts are best cooked medium-rare, cuts with higher collagen content require more doneness to break down the collagen into manageable chews, and larger cuts can be cooked to varying degrees of doneness—allowing multiple diners to choose their preferred section of meat.


In cases of conflicting steak characteristics, adjusting the steak’s thickness may enhance the dining experience. Additionally, large cattle breeds of Wagyu, such as the Japanese Black (Kuroge Washu), typically yield larger cuts, which can limit cooking options.


#3: Cooking Technique

Lastly, the method of cooking, such as grilling, pan-searing, or sous vide, plays a crucial role in determining the final doneness of the steak as it significantly impacts the distribution of heat and the overall cooking time. For example, grilling over an open flame imparts a smoky flavour and distinctive char marks, while pan-searing in a hot skillet creates a delicious crust on the exterior of the steak—these cooking methods not only affect the texture and flavour of the steak but also influence the degree of doneness achieved.


Trusting the Chef’s Expertise

While conveying particular preferences to the staff helps in ensuring your steak is flawlessly prepared to your taste, it is important to note that steakhouse chefs are typically proficient in the nuances of steak preparation and often have extensive knowledge of different cuts of meat, cooking methods, and flavour pairings.


Trusting the expertise of the chef and being open to recommendations can enhance your dining experience, allowing you to indulge in the culinary pleasure of a perfectly cooked steak while elevating your dining experience to new heights.