It’s a forty-year-old coming-of-age story, but unlike most such stories, this one isn’t about wine, it’s about soup.
On a central street in Bangkok, Thailand, the air is always full of beef broth, fresh celery, and garlic, and the locals are ready to brave the daily rush of traffic. Wattana Panich – 40 years old humble street restaurant that makes beef stew. Today the stock in the pot was stirred before the birth of the current owner, Natapong Kiuiyantawong.
Each bowl represents the art of cooking, perfected by Nattapong over decades. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he grew up in the family soup, and with time under his father’s skillful guidance, he learns to maintain and develop his original taste.
Large chunks of beef are cooked for four hours until tender, then cut into small pieces and simmered in broth for another four hours before being served, Nattapong says. Every evening, after the soup is finished, it is left to cook on a slow fire, and the remaining broth is finally used for the next day’s new soup. And so 40 years. That is, parts of the original soup that was stirred up in the 1980s can be felt in the container you receive today. This is called consistency. Even though they’ve been using the same pot for over 40 years, it’s still cleaned every day, and then the stock is put back in.
And if we edit Sofia’s slogan, the restaurant’s reputation grows, and the soup continues to age. In addition to loyal Thai customers, the soup also attracts foreign visitors from around the world. At first, mostly from China, Japan, Singapore, and now more and more Americans and Europeans have begun to visit the small street restaurant. Despite its growing popularity, Natapong manages to preserve the original taste of the broth with dedication and respect for the family tradition. Anise, cinnamon, coriander, Chinese herbs. These are the components that are allowed to be shared, the rest have been hidden for decades. There is no specific recipe with proportions. The ingredients are added each time until the patient stirrer of the soup exclaims that the desired flavor has been achieved.
Wattana Panich has received the Essence of Asia Award, which aims to recognize places that are “reinventing local cuisine, reviving ancient traditions and playing a vital role in their communities”.
To date, Essence of Asia hosts restaurants in 20 Asian countries, from Cambodia and Vietnam to Japan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
And for those who are truly interested in street food, we have to remind you that their appetite will be satisfied by the cuisine at the next StrEAT Fest.