Tucked inside the beautiful art space of ATT19 Gallery on Charoen Krung, Mad Beef is a Mecca of beef kaiseki in Bangkok.
I was very impressed by Chef Cher Attakanwong’s concept. She did 10 beef courses from amuse-bouche to dessert without any compromise. I even teased my vegan friend, saying, ”If you take me to a vegan restaurant again, I will bring you here.”
To reach the 12-seat show kitchen table, you walk through a beautiful tree-lined lane before entering the main building, which was formerly a school. The chef’s family converted the building into a gorgeous art space, in which all of the architectural elements, including an interior courtyard and gigantic wooden-plank floor, are well preserved. It has been tastefully renovated with new partitions and dividers for art displays, but still allows a lot of natural light. However, the restaurant itself gives a totally different feeling. It is almost like walking into a pimped-up tea room in a high-ceilinged Japanese wooden farmhouse. The show kitchen is surrounded by an L-shaped counter so that no one misses any of the action.
The restaurant’s name, “Mad Beef,” says it all. Every dish here contains beef. Other than the nose-to-tail concept, which we hear about so often, the restaurant focuses strongly on the texture of the meat in each dish. They let diners try all the different parts of the cow with detailed explanations. Moreover, they think about the way to cook the meat so that diners won’t get bored of the texture during the sequence. They thin-slice, thick-slice, chop, make consume, serve it raw—you name it.
I have to say I enjoyed this change throughout the meal. The chef previously worked in various restaurants in Australia, and she uses many Western cooking techniques. At the same time, you can feel her passion for Asian food in many dishes, such as Mad Sando, the Japanese-style chopped wagyu sandwich with Kansai-style sukiyaki sauce. It was like a torched tasty mayo. Another standout is Mad Don, Wagyu Denver on rice with raw egg and fried leek. These were my favourite dishes, and both had very deep and delicious flavour.
My third favourite dish was not actually on the menu. The chef kept talking about her “zero-waste” idea, and we wanted to support her. She told us that she normally uses loads of beef to make her flavourful Pot of Gold – beef consommé. She boils it until the meat loses its taste. But she doesn’t want to throw the beef away, so she and her crew turn it into a traditional Thai-style pad krapao. We asked for the dish just for fun, and she surprised us by serving it at the end of the meal with Japanese rice and fried egg. It was perfect.
The Caveman’s Heart is another dish that impressed me. The hanger steak, which is prepared on a custom-made concrete grill, is cooked over a local mangrove-tree charcoal. We were hypnotised by the red charcoal and the smell of the beef fat. It was quite a romantic moment for a meat-lover like me—and it was tasty, too.
The meal’s finale, Mad Ice Cream Sandwich, was also made from cow products. Like the use of suet in some shortcut pastry or lard in pie crust, it gives that special layer to the palette. Even in some of the traditional Thai desserts I’ve made with my grandmother, we used pork fat to brush the mold. It actually makes a difference. It is really awesome.
Overall, the food was good and the ambiance was nice, but what impressed me most was the concept and the chef’s determination to let diners experience all parts of the cow, including those that some may have not tried or are generally too scared to try. She is bold about it—and has no substitutes for those who don’t eat beef. So if you decide to bring your friends, be sure you only bring carnivores. I love her daring and passion to be doing this in Bangkok, where a high percentage of people don’t eat beef.
Mad Beef is closed for dining-in until May 15 due to the “COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Requirements for Restaurants and Bars.” But during this time, Mad Beef offers delivery service of:
– The 5-course tasting menu
– Customers’ favourite dishes a la carte
– Instagram @madbeef.bkk
– Reservations via Line @madbeef ([email protected])
Cover photo credit: @thedininggallery