By : KEN BARRETT
29 January 2020
About: Argentinian restaurants are not unknown in Bangkok, thanks to El Gaucho and El Toro, but the concept is unusual enough to raise interest, and Don Asado is certainly distinctive in having a huge fire pit in the kitchen over which the meat is cooked. “Asado” means barbecue, and the asado a la cruz method of cooking is very traditional. The fire is set up on the floor, and the meat hung on wooden spits over the charcoal for slow cooking. As the fat drips from top to bottom of the meat, layers of flavour build up, and a smoky taste permeates. This unhurried method of cooking keeps the meat juicy and tender. It does of course need an experienced pit master, and Javier Dejneka is himself Argentinean, as indeed is one of the business partners, Leandro Chazarreta.
Decor: Buried away in Yen Akat Soi 2, Don Asado is set in a big old timber house that used to be the premises of a construction company, and the entire restaurant infrastructure is new. One can only imagine the administrative difficulties of installing a fire pit, which can be seen upon entering the compound, glowing in what had been the front room. A peek into the kitchen reveals the pit to be several feet across, and along with the modern grill the heat is intense. The restaurant itself has a high ceiling, wooden planking along the walls, and a few posters.
Menu: The menu is brief, consisting mainly of cuts of beef, Wagyu and US Prime, plus a striploin cut from Argentina. Pricing is by the kilo, although there is a useful estimate price per dish, which ranges from 450 baht to 7,000 baht, for the huge tomahawk cuts. There are three types of pork, and there are chicken, rack of lamb, and carabinero prawns. Several Argentinian wines are listed, and we drank a bottle of full-flavoured Luigi Bosca Malbec (2,100 baht). Several of the recipes have passed down through Leandro’s family, such as the strawberry salad (220 baht), very tangy with its balsamic dressing, and the provoleta Don Asado (190 baht), in which Italian cheese is grilled and served gooey and bubbling hot in a skillet. Chorizo picante (90 baht) is a dish of surprisingly light and moist spicy sausage, made from trimmings of beef and pork. For the mains we ordered the Argentinian bife de chorizo striploin, a hefty 350g cut that worked out at 650 baht, and which was easily big enough for two. We also had US short ribs that had slow-cooked over the fire for five hours, served on the bone, and which came to 1,500 baht. The beef dishes are presented on a metal plate above a stove. The third member of our party, being a non-beef eater, had the rack of lamb at 1,200 baht, served with garlic cloves. Fat fries with salt (100 baht) and a heaping of potato salad (120 baht) accompanied our mains. Not much room for dessert, but the ice cream (100 baht) is especially creamy.
Evaluation. Open only about six months, and needing to be sought out. Don Asado was nonetheless full by 7.30pm. On a neighbouring table, Spanish was being spoken. This is outstandingly high quality food and cooking, and given the huge size of the portions, excellent value.