When Pig’s Tail is the New Sirloin

Mini Haggis served with whisky and sweet potato, Bt210

I hope you are not vegetarian. And that you have a big appetite for innards. Because I’m talking about the food I ate at Smith – a new ‘gastro-bar’ on Sukhumvit 49 that serves ox’s heart, ox’s tongue, pig’s tail, lamb’s intestines in a fancy, beer-friendly kind of way.

Calf’s tongue with Mexican spice, cabbage cake and crispy fried red cabbage, Bt180

Eating offal and entrails of an animal is nothing new. In fact, most Thai and Chinese people usually eat the whole animal; we just didn’t have a proper marketable term for it. Walk into any fresh market and you’ll see the whole ensemble of pig’s head, its ears carefully arranged along with its tongues ready to go with ready-packed spicy vinegar sauce. In Thai Esan cuisine, for instance, ox’s intestines, lung and tripe go into a spicy aromatic stew frequently served in a full meal. Those who enjoy the Esan-style sausage should also know that the casing of their favorite munch is usually made from pig’s intestine. I can go on with innards eating forever, but now let’s just go back to Smith.

Tuna, Braised Pig’s Tail and Foie Gras Torchon, Bt250

Run by a Thai sweetheart celebrity chef Ian Kittichai and his whole team, Smith serves what is called ‘nose to tail’ eating. First coined by Fergus Henderson – a famous British chef whose book ‘Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking’ instantly promoted his restaurant, St John in London, and restored the offal-eating trend back in the UK – nose-to-tail eating is an art of cooking offal and neglected cuts of meat into delicious dishes, sometimes delicacies. Despite his daily-changing menu, St. John is famous for their Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad.

Black Label Waguy Burger in squid ink brioche bun, Bt450

Smith in Bangkok adopts the nose-to-tail philosophy with the owners’ personal twists. Its small menu features things like calf’s tongue, ox’s heart, pig’s tail terrine, mini haggis and hanger steak which is the muscle hanging at the ox’s diaphragm, hence the name. This piece of meat is usually discarded, but butchers are known to keep it for themselves and savor the cut’s distinct flavorsome munchy tenderness, hence the other name of ‘butcher’s steak.’

Hanger Steak with polenta, caramelized vegetables and vinegar sauce, Bt795

We ordered calf’s tongue which is a salad dish of sous-vided and deep-fried cubes of tongue served with crispy-fried red cabbage and drizzles of vinaigrette. The bite-sized tongue is dense and packed with flavor and it is quite nice with the caramelized pearl onions and cabbage cakes. This is a good starter if you are in for a chatty meal with cold drinks.

An old furniture warehouse turned into a fun slaughter/beer house

Then we moved on to ‘Tuna, Braised Pig’s Tail and Foie Gras Torchon.’ The terrine made out of pig’s tail gelatin was covered with slices of tuna and garland of mixed green salad of Ceylon spinach with rosemary, pea and citrus dressing.  This is a raw salad with crunchy texture from the pig’s tail. I kind of like this terrine even though I normally do not expect much from the usually tasteless gelatin-base pate. But this one is stronger in taste with mixed herbs that went pretty well with the whole crunchy combination of the dish.

We also tried the haggis served on a beautiful bed of mashed potato. After all, this is a meat and potato dish with a twist. If you like offal and its typical tastes and texture, you will like this dish. For me, I am not so much crazy about it. Haggis is made of mixed entrails (heart, lung and blood) of a sheep. Eating this gives me new experience that I usually appreciate as far as being a writer is concerned.

Chef Ian’s baby – the kitchen

Smith also serves normal cuts of meat with some nose-to-tail elements such as the ‘Black Label’ burger of Australian wagyu beef with homemade ‘squid ink’ brioche bun which I enjoyed most during this whole meal. The brioche was soft, light, yet munchy with no trail of its being made from the squid ink and the beef wonderfully aromatic and special.

Then comes the star of the meal – the Butcher’s Steak sous-vided and pan-grilled and served with a bed of polenta decorated with beautiful caramelized vegetables and vinegar-based gravy. We ordered them ‘medium-rare’ and it was cooked perfectly just so. The meat was tender, aromatic and yet fun to chew. I like the combination of vinegar and beef. I think the acid goes well with the meaty flavor. But since, really, I am not big fan of anything barely cooked, I would say I’d enjoy it much more if the meat was done in medium. With less blood on the plate. ^^

Duck hooks as chandeliers

Smith is now still in its ‘soft-launch’ period. And that means something still need to be fixed in and out of the kitchen. For example, the food can still be inconsistent on day to day basis and the credit card machine is still not ready. You need to make sure to bring enough cash there. But its rustic, steel-and-glass elements of the former-warehouse-style atmosphere makes this place attractive to those looking for a new fun place to hang out and wind down. And if you like draft beers, this is the place to go. They have a good variety of beers and they even sell it by the keg of your preference. Good thing about this place, besides its attempts to create new and exciting food scene, is their variety of food. You do not need to be a meat lover to enjoy this place. There are fish, poultry and vegetables for you to nibble. And I would go back there to try those with lots of beer to match. x

Old furniture warehouse look of Smith

Sukhumvit 49 (walkable from Sukhumvit Road)
Daily: 5.30pm – 1am (kitchen closed at 11pm)
Parking: valet only
BTS: Thonglor (two soi away from BTS exit)
T: 02-261-0515-6

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