A giant pot is brimming with beef – a melt-in-your-mouth selection of cuts that have been stewed for more than 8 hours, with fresh coriander roots and a bag of secret ingredients.
The smell is sweet and rich. Star anise. Cinnamon. Black peppercorns. Garlic. Nearly ten kinds of aromatic Chinese herbs and spices soaked in the dark soup that has been simmering here for more than 40 years.
It is probably the oldest beef soup in the Thai capital Bangkok, with the Wattana Panich restaurant serving countless bowls for three generations. Despite new eateries cropping up on every side, the business has managed to maintain its spot in the city’s competitive food scene with a long history of dedication, consistency and precision.
“We keep tasting. There is no recipe,” said Chinese-Thai owner Nattapong Kaweenuntawong.
The 40-year-old works every day, filling bowl after bowl with his family’s legacy – different cuts of beef cooked to perfect tenderness, noodles, garlic oil and the rich, dark soup topped with fresh Chinese celery.
Each bowl is an execution of the art of cooking that has taken Nattapong decades to master. He began tasting his family’s soup since a young age and under the expert guidance of his father, learnt how to maintain its perfection.
“My father would season the soup and let me taste it. At the beginning, I didn’t really get it but once I started doing it every day, I began to notice when the taste changed. My father would tell me what was lacking,” he said.
“When we add the stock, the taste changes. The amount of stock we add is also different each time. So, we have to keep tasting and we’ll find out what is missing. Then, we season the soup to taste.”
Customers beat Bangkok’s notorious traffic to this old-school shophouse to savour the taste of decades-old culinary heritage, which was first created by Nattapong’s grandfather when he set up a small food stall near the Chao Phraya River nearly 60 years ago.
The stall was then moved to another location before transforming into a two-storey establishment in Ekamai, central Bangkok, where the soup has been simmering since before Nattapong was born.
According to channelnewsasia