During my quest to find the best steak in Thailand I discovered the misperception that Thais don’t eat beef. Some don’t of course because they are minority Hindus or have a Chinese Guanyin heritage, but the vast majority of the population loves a slice of neua, as it is called here.
The fact that beef is more expensive in Thailand than other meats, such as pork and chicken, is perhaps another reason why you don’t see a lot of IT on menus.
“Why bother looking for steak in Thailand anyway?” I hear you say.
We are told (a) that red meat is not good for us, and (b) there is so much classic Thai cuisine using other ingredients to be enjoyed; why go in search of a steak?
If you are a beef lover like me you’ll know what it feels like when the craving to eat a succulent char grilled steak arrives. It’s a sad steak of affairs, but when the urge hits I just have to dive straight into Trip Advisor and find the nearest steakhouse.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Thailand, renowned for their steaks. Craving satisfied!
New York Steakhouse at the JW Mariott, Bangkok
Spiced Rubbed Tomahawk Wagyu Beef by Chef Michael Hogan, New York Steakhouse at the JW Marriott, Bangkok
The best place to start a steak-out has to be in a proper steak-house, and they don’t come any more authentic than the JW Marriott Bangkok’s New York Steakhouse. Their signature steak happens to be the largest cut of all, the ‘tomahawk’; not named after a cruise missile but an axe because it looks like a Red Indian tomahawk. A whopping 1 Kg. of Australian Wagyu beef, spice rubbed and sealed on a hot charcoal grill before being cooked to perfection in the oven. A 2 person meal, the steak is carved at our table and served with wild rocket salad, Kipfler potatoes and a trio of sauces.
Wine companion: If you’re spending good money on steak, you may as well pick a great wine, like the Napa Valley Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. Year after year the critics praise this wine. Wagyu beef needs some firm tannins, which are almost sweet in this wine. Rich dark fruits, plum, blackberries, cream, tobacco and anise aromas followed by an excellent structure and length.
Barbette’s at the Muse, Bangkok
Jack’s Creek Angus Rib Eye by Chef Michael Owens, Barbette’s, Hotel Muse, Bangkok.
If the JW steakhouse is all about New York muscle, then just around the corner in Langsuan Road I found Chicago art deco in the shape of Barbette’s at the intriguingly named Hotel Muse. Up on the 19th floor, in a wonderful ‘speakeasy’ atmosphere, my evening started by having to choose which steak knife I was going to eat with. Chef Michael Owens offers up steaks from Australia, USA and Japan. I chose the Jack’s Creek Black Angus Rib Eye from Oz. Grain fed for 170 days this perfectly cooked steak arrived on a wooden slab with onion rings, herb crusted potato wedges and grilled rosemary garlic wheels.
Wine companion: I love the interior and ambiance of Barbette’s, and my choice of wine is partially influenced by the atmosphere; I am settling on the Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve 2011. A powerful Cabernet to match that juicy ribeye. Look out for ripe black fruits, black plum and cherry flavors.
The house on Sathorn at the W, Bangkok
Roppongi Kaiseki by Chef Fatih Tutak, The House on Sathorn, W Hotel, Bangkok.
Bangkok’s newest eating sensation can be found in the shadow of the spectacular W Hotel Bangkok. Alongside the modern high-rise is the most beautiful colonial mansion, previously the Russian Embassy, and now a food wonderland operated by the W. The Dining Room at the House offers what they call ‘new Asian cuisine’. We found an amazing wagyu striploin steak with an odd Japanese name: Roppongi Kaiseki. Chef Fatih Tutak from Istanbul picked up the recipe at the 3 Michelin star Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo. Grilled marinated beef, served simply with tendon sauce and Maitake mushrooms, with Kinome leaves as a garnish. Exotic!
Wine companion: The Japanese recipe of this beef required a bit of a searching, I’m looking for a red with the right tannins to match the tendon sauce and rich Wagyu flavors. Try the Hewitson Ms Harry Grenache-Shiraz 2011 from Barossa. Expect red fruits like cherries and raspberries and a finish with a mouthful of fine tannins.
Sea.Fire.Salt at Anantara Mai Khao, Phuket
Himalayan Salt Foie Gras Tenderloin by Chef Spencer Kells, Sea.Salt.Fire, Anantara Resort Mai Khao, Phuket.
If you are looking for an unusual presentation of a classic steak then dine at Sea.Fire.Salt at the Anantara Resort Mai Khao. Here Chef Spencer Kells doesn’t just offer salt and pepper on the table; you get the entire steak on a Himalayan Salt Brick. Heated to 200 degrees, and with a high mineral content, these pink salt bricks make a perfect cooking plate, mildly imparting the salts unique qualities. We tried a classic grain fed tenderloin from Australia, served with foie gras, mashed potatos, and asparagus. If you need more salt the restaurant’s salt guru is available with a selection of 20 different varieties from around the world.
Wine companion: This classic dish can be best matched by a classic Barolo with a bit of age. I was in luck: the 2006 Barolo Riserva Bricco delle Viole from Viberti Giovanni will go very well. Elegant and complex; its bouquet features spices, mineral flavors, game, dried fruit and wild flowers with a nice long finish.
The Boathouse, Phuket
Steak Diane by Chef Bryan Burger, The Boathouse, Phuket.
You may have noticed that the USA has played an important role in the evolution of the steak. Here at the Boathouse, in Kata, Phuket, I found another of their inventions: the classic ‘Steak Diane’. It first appeared in New York in the mid 20th century and was named after the Roman Goddess of the hunt; this steak became extremely popular as a tableside flambéed dish. Chef Bryan Burger expertly cooked my dish in front of my eyes, using two 100-gram Wagyu beef tenderloin medallions from Australia. Cooking took just 5 minutes and involved a sauce of shallots, button mushrooms, Dijon mustard, red wine and cream, brought to life with flaming brandy.
Wine companion: I took my time to browse the list, and was looking for something not too overbearing or high in alcohol. So I finally settled on the Chryseia 2005 by Prats & Symington in Portugal. Having aged for 10 years now, this wine is mature, balanced, with integrated tannins. Power and elegance in absolute perfection.
9th Floor, Phuket
Black Angus Australian Chateaubriand by Chef Wara, The 9th Floor, Phuket.
The chateaubriand is a cut of beef from the thickest part of the tenderloin filet and is prized as the highest quality of all cuts, and usually served to 2 or more people. Phuket’s famous 9th Floor Restaurant has established its reputation on the quality of its steaks and Chef Wara’s Black Angus Australian Chateaubriand is the signature dish on the menu. My 500-gram specimen was perfectly cooked medium rare, with a tasty charred exterior. Served on a silver platter with spinach quiche tartlets, broccoli, baby carrots, trumpet mushrooms and sauté potatoes. I choose the béarnaise sauce to complete what was a beautiful plate.
Wine companion: Spoilt for choice with more than 250 wines on the list. The lean Angus beef should be matched with a full bodied, smooth red, and my eye falls on the 2006 Marques de Riscal Riserva from Rioja, Spain. It’s mature now and well balanced, with red and black fruit, silky tannins and a long finish.
Ficus at the Sarojin, Khao Lak
Fillet of Beef with Foie Gras and Wild Mushroom Jus by Chef Gogh, Sarojin, Khao Lak.
The pairing of a fillet of beef with foie gras is a French classic and often referred to as ‘Tournedos Rossini’. Originally created for composer Gioachino Rossini at the Savoy Hotel in London the dish came with a garnish of black truffle and a Madeira demi-glace sauce. We found an exceptional variation of the Tournedos at the stunning Sarojin Resort in Khao Lak. A 200 gram Australian Wagyu Fillet Steak perched on a Parmentier potato foundation and topped with a roof of seared Foie Gras. To achieve a perfect crispy cover the Foie Gras must be chilled straight from the fridge before being placed on a very hot grill. This extravagant dish is served with a wild mushroom jus.
Wine companion: The wine list at Ficus was awarded “Best in Thailand” a few years back, so there is plenty to look at. I easily get drawn to an Italian, the Le Pupille Poggio Valente riserva 2008 from Morellino di Scansano in south Tuscany. A combination of sangiovese and merlot; powerful but smooth. I recommend chilling it slightly when sitting outdoors.
Jahn at the Conrad, Koh Samui
Wagyu of Beef Massaman by Chef Berm, Jahn at the Conrad, Koh Samui.
One challenge I was given on this story was to find at least one dish which can be considered as steak / Thai fusion. This did cause me a few problems until I visited the Conrad in Koh Samui and found their signature restaurant ‘Jahn’. Here Chef Berm serves a Wagyu of Beef Massaman, using tenderloin from. I’m very proud to have found this dish because it doesn’t come more fusion than this. Massaman is a mild Thai curry originating inthe 17th century with Persian influences, thus the potato, star anise, cinnamon, and clove. Served with lemongrass rice, peanuts, and crispy onion rings…very tasty.
Wine companion: Paring wines with Thai curries can be a challenge! A Massaman features sweet and spicy notes, so we’re looking for a robust yet smooth red. I picked the Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvedre, which has just the right complexity and balance, and a nice finish with dark fruits, peppers, and spice.
Kiree at the Vana Belle, Koh Samui
Australian Black Angus Tenderloin by Chef Julong, Kiree at the Vana Belle, Koh Samui
The Aberdeen Angus breed is a superstar in the steak world. Now found all over the world, the breed originated on the east coast of Scotland. Also called ‘Black Angus’, they were introduced to Tasmania in the 1920s. Due to Australia’s proximity Angus beef is the most commonly found gourmet beef on menus in Thailand. To experience a classic Angus steak try the charcoal grilled Australian Black Angus Tenderloin at the Vana Belle Luxury Collection Resort in Koh Samui. Chef Julong marinates the meat in XO brandy and rosemary for 5 hours and after hot grilling serves with grilled tiger prawns, Sicily lemon butter, and an Arugula salad.
Wine companion: The Penfolds Thomas Hyland Shiraz 2010 meets my requirements. The new oak ageing of this wine resulted in velvety tannins that cope well with the charcoal of the steak. It’s very supple, medium-bodied and shows it’s typical shiraz of spice with fragrant dark fruit characteristics very well.
Prime Steakhouse, Hua Hin
Duchesses Bordered Grilled Beef Tenderloin by Chef Peter Hagstedt, Prime Steakhouse, Hua Hin.
A classic French way of presenting a ‘steak de bœuf’, is to serve it on a wooden platter surrounded with piped duchesse potato. A first class example of this can be found at the highly acclaimed Prime Steakhouse in Hua Hin. Brothers Hagstedt from Sweden serve wonderful Char Grilled Tenderloins on oak platters, which have spent 12 minutes at 220 degrees in the oven while the waves of duchess crisp and brown. The entire dish is contained within this firewall of potato and includes bacon wrapped haricot vert, grilled tomato and bell pepper and a reservoir of béarnaise sauce. Not complete without a sprig or two of rosemary.
Wine companion: I found the Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore, a favourite of mine. The Rugolin’s have been producing wine for 4 generations in the Veneto region. The Ripasso, sometimes nicknamed “baby Amarone”, has an intense bouquet of cherries and plums, and in the mouth good acidity, smooth texture and a hint of tannin on an elegant finish.
Andreas, Hua Hin
Black Angus Rossini Fillet by Chef Andreas Bonifacio, Andreas Restorante, Hua Hin.
One of the best Italian restaurants in the land of smiles because happy Italian owner Andreas is always in the kitchen to ensure top quality: dish after dish. A classic plate here is the Black Angus Rossini Fillet, cooked to perfection on a Josper Grill. Sitting on a juicy bed of garlic infused spinach, the 220 gram Australian Steak is topped with an enormous slab of seared Foie Gras. Served with a traditional Madeira jus and a pungent olive oil and you feel transported to Trieste in the Adriatic corner of north east Italy, which is where Andreas is from.
Wine companion: This steak shouts for a big Cabernet, so I am going for the Varvara from Castello di Bolgheri. The wine was named in honor of Baroness Varvara Wrangel. The family have owned the castle since the 1500’s, and started producing Varvara in 2005. Perfect tannins, acidity and power to match the foie gras covered steak.
Carnivore, Ao Nang, Krabi
The Maxivore by Chef Gidi Mevissen, Carnivore, Ao Nang
What it says on the packet, ‘Carnivore’, is exactly what you get: a meat lover’s paradise. Not a place for a vegetarian but if you happen to be a ravenous carnivore then you’ll do what I did; order the humongous “MAXIVORE”. Described on the menu as a ‘T-bone’ (which is a tenderloin connected, by a bone, to a sirloin), this is actually not a T-bone at all…its even bigger! It’s 150 grams of tenderloin, no bone, with a 400 gram rib eye in place of the sirloin. That’s a whopping 550 grams of Australian beef. Served with home fries and a choice of sauces, it was 2 days later that I felt hungry again!
Wine companion: Let’s not get dwarfed by the sheer size of this steak while selecting the wine! Choose the Conde Valdemar Reserva from Spain, a nice old world companion to this giant Aussie steak. Expect aromas of red fruits and sweet spices forming great complexity and ripe elegant tannins won’t disappoint.
Wine pairings by Bart Duykers