Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: I miss you dearly, my friend. Maybe not at first, not in my first months in Thailand when I was sucked right into the world of lemongrass and coconut milk. When pork (and Thailand is up there with the best of them when it comes to the quality of pork) and poultry became the foundations of my daily diet.

I quickly grabbed Thai words for chicken and pork, yet the Thai name for the mother of all meat seemed to skip my mind. I just didn’t use it often enough, I didn’t get many chances to use it as I didn’t get many chances to eat...beef.

And when it comes to beef, there are many ways to have it, but only one is right. "My favorite animal is steak," is what Fran Lebowitz said, and as much as I like cats and dogs, I dare not disagree. And I don’t think the owners of the Churrasco Phuket Steakhouse would either. "We are 100 per cent carnivores," they say, and to prove it, they present me the menu of their restaurant which is located in Patong’s Jungceylon Shopping Complex (click here for map).

There’s a choice of classic starters, some salads (the Caesar’s salad is certainty worth a try), a selection of soups and pastas. The fresh Gazpacho Andaluz, a cold Spanish vegetable soup is a great choice for a hot day, which in Phuket means any day. But as delicious as they are, if you come here to have a Penne or Calamaris, you’re missing the point. Flip to the steak side of the force and you’re home.

There are eight steaks to choose from, sized from 200 grams to 500 grams, all served with baked garlic cloves. You can go with the classics tenderloin, striploin, ribeye, flank or the ever popular T-bone, all made with high quality Black Angus beef imported from Australia. For a man (or a lady) starving for beef, any choice is right and none will disappoint. But if you’re not only a hungry carnivore, salivating at the mere thought of a steak, but also one that knows a bit about his prey, you know that Wagyu is the meat to go for.

Originally from Japan, where it reaches it’s ultimate quality in Kobe, it’s been available outside the Japanese archipelago since the 90s when Wagyu cattle was successfully bred in Australia and the USA – courtesy of Jurassic Park-style cow’s embryos smuggling. The three Australian Wagyu steaks on Churrasco’s menu are a dream come true for anyone wishing to satiate his or her lust for beef. The perfectly marbled, marinated cuts of meat, grilled to your liking, literally melt in your mouth, leaving behind the incredible, smooth, savory feeling known to the world as the 5th taste – Umami.

Bastian, Churrasco’s chef hails from Germany and has over 14 years of experience. When I ask him how a perfect steak should be served, his answer is short and sharp as the edge of his knife – rare.

"When some customers order 500g of fine beef and ask for it well done I want to cry," he adds.

So if you are one of the people who don’t want to see any red in their beef, don’t order the most exquisite stuff.

Go for something simpler, as it will taste the same anyway.

If you like beef jerky, suit yourself, but if you truly love beef, you’ll have it rare or at least medium rare. And you don’t have to be a Muay Thai fighter in search of high-value protein to have your steak the right way.

"You’d be surprised to discover how many women are die hard carnivores and order rare steaks," adds Sebastian.

"There’s only one right way to eat a steak – with greed in your heart and a smile on your face," someone once said. At Churrasco, doing it the right way is easy. The owners of the restaurant know they deal with precious produce and they do it very well by giving it the treatment it deserves. The deep-chilled (but never frozen) steaks are imported three times a week from Australia, and are kept in a special fridge with four different zones of rising temperature. Once marinated, they land on the grill and on your plate.

The rest is simple – a bite of Wagyu rump tail, washed down with one of the wines from the hand picked wine list (naturally 80 per cent of them red), and you’ll be sent into outer space.

The Latin American music, the chatter from surrounding tables all this will fade. You’ll be left with the heavenly taste in your mouth and the distant sound of fat dripping on a red hot grill in your ears. This sound is called churrasco.

This article first appeared in the August 3-9 issue of the hard-copy Phuket Gazette. Digital subscribers may download the full newspaper, this week and every week, by clicking here.

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– Maciek Klimowicz

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