Gaggan Anand’s Meatlicious sees the 2015 and 2016 winner of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants steering away from the delicate and high-tech cuisine of his Langsuan restaurant in favor of a beef-heavy menu cooked using only wood and coal.
Tucked down a quiet soi, the cozy house is best enjoyed seated at the kitchen bar, where Gaggan’s pirate crew slice, roast and sear while swapping banter in four different languages. If so prompted, they can just as easily deliver a master class on wet-aging or maintaining ideal oven temperatures when burning wood. That dichotomy—a laidback appearance that hides a lot of substance—applies to the food too.
The tomahawk (300B/100g, expect 1.5kg) puts its now ubiquitous competition to shame thanks to a crisp, pepper-encrusted char and a heart that is deep red, yet warm, the blood trapped in the meat. After serving, the rotisseur takes the fatty part of the cut back to the kitchen for some extra grilling, so that every slice is perfect, a level of detail more commonly seen at omakase restaurants.
Not every dish is quite as minimal. The “foie gras breakfast” (B450) is a luscious creme brulee where fatty liver replaces the traditional creme. Served with brioche and cherry compote, it straddles comfort food and the kind of challenging, inventive creations you’d find at Gaggan. Similarly, the Meatlicious raw burger (B550) is a sophisticated tartare in disguise. At night, garlic and onions sit in the oven, turning into a charcoal powder that is then sprinkled onto a mix of raw Miyazaki and Angus beef to balance the meat’s fatty, almost creamy texture.
These playful recipes don’t represent the bulk of the menu, which is mostly as straightforward as it looks. The spaghetti with spicy meat sauce and porcini wine sauce (B450) isn’t tweaked or deconstructed in any way. Still, it is much more than the sum of its parts, a burst of umami with a rich intensity. Likewise, the jalapeno relleno is “only” a pepper stuffed with ricotta (B270), and yet it tastes amazing.
Desserts also make good use of the oven, so that even the freshly baked meringue atop a raspberry, vanilla and strawberry ice-cream bomb (B390) exudes wood-fired notes. The place’s only drawback was that it opened without a wine list. That’s been fixed, leaving us with nothing but praise for Meatlicious’s combination of friendly atmosphere and deceptively simple dishes bursting with flavor. Corkage B800 for wine; B1,500 for spirits.