Celebrity chef goes back to basics
Think of it like this. For years, you’ve been a poet, acclaimed for creating obscure, elitist statements that dazzle the few in-the-know. Now you want to show the world you can excel in prose also—accessible, clear, muscular prose, the sort anyone can savor and understand.
That’s the impetus for Meatlicious, the surprising new creation of Gaggan Anand, the man who was voted Number One restaurateur in Asia for single-handedly charting the territory of a cuisine that could only be called “Hindu-Molecular Fine Dining”. Understated and unpretentious in every way, including the casual décor of a refurbished house down an Ekkamai side-street, this newest entry in Bangkok’s ever-expanding set of choices hits the mark with every dish. The only wrong note is it’s supercilious name, as the endeavor, while focused entirely on wood-fired roasting and grilling, as about a lot more than mere animal flesh.
But perhaps the chef wanted to emphasize that he was going for bold flavors over experimentation, and that he would be flaunting a Western-style adoration of beef that would be entirely banned in his “holy cow” homeland. From an open kitchen, where counter-style stools offer the best view of the show, a team of eager young apprentices—mostly from South America and steeped in the region’s outdoor charcoaling traditions—put forth a limited yet infinitely succulent selection of specialties. It’s even more exciting on Tuesday nights when the goateed maestro himself is on hand, shouting out the food orders in a theatrical manner. Giving away the dishes on offer is almost like giving away the ending to a great movie, but here are some hints: a “foie gras” breakfast made of a unique crème brulee (B390), fire-charred corn (B90) or chilies with goat cheese (B230), a brilliant selection of ceviches built around Hamachi or tuna (a steal at B390), a perfect rendition of Argentine steak—actually Australian—with chimmichuri dipping sauce (B990), a tomahawk steak (B3000) to put more hair on one’s chest, a unique slow-roasted French lamb chop (B790), or scallops with truffle cream (B490) for those who prefer less cholesterol.
The delicious results are all purposely un-fancy and decidedly south-of-any-border. Maybe the chef is trying to prove he can be Latin even more than he can be French, and that he need not be any more limited by coming from Calcutta than gringo Rick Bayless was when he tackled Mexican.
Yes, Gaggan has opened a new chapter in his rewriting of world culinary rules. However, it’s not from James Joyce or any Remembrance of Things Past, neither Borges nor A Day at El Bulli. This time, the pages are all taken from “Joy of Cooking”.
8 Ekkamai Soi 6
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