For me, Argentina means two things: Good steak, and a damn good Malbec.
Incidentally, these two things rank up there on my “guilty pleasures list” (along with pairing buttery Chardonnay with extra buttery popcorn while watching an old Audrey Hepburn film), which is why El Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse is a definite stopover whenever we’re in Bangkok.
I know it seems like such a head scratching idea to discuss Bangkok in relation to a proper Argentinian steakhouse, but I’ll explain further. My husband (Chad, for the benefit of those who stumbled upon my site for the first time) works for Electrolux Philippines (yep, the people who knocked on our doors, rang on our bells, and knocked on our windows too in the 80s), and their regional office is in Bangkok. This means frequenting the city about once a quarter (with a side trip for me to visit friends in Pattaya… Shoutout to G, N, and S!).
The thing is, much as we adore yummy, fragrant Thai food (so much so that our constant hashtag is #mangostickyrice), we would crave for one of our “guilty pleasures”… Nope, Chad hasn’t gone the buttery Chard + Audrey Hepburn route yet, so steak is our common thing.
He has gone the pricey Single Malt route, though, but that’s a story for another time.
On one of his first trips to Bangkok for Electrolux, his boss introduced him to El Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse and, as they say, the rest is history. A love affair between juicy, flavorful, amazingly cooked steak began.
Naturally, Chad wanted to share his newfound “discovery” to me when I joined him in a succeeding trip. Conveniently located pretty close to his office and the hotel we tend to get booked in (Lancaster Bangkok, BTW, is one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed at in terms of hospitality… The staff actually looks for me whenever I don’t come along with Chad for one of his business trips), we would go there for our much-needed meat and wine fix.
So, obviously, when we found out from our good friend Sunny Ku that they’re opening up a location in Manila, Chad and I were completely there (and drooling). The grand launch featured pass-around steaks, burgers, great music, fun company (I got to talk to one of my favorite people, Kath Yao, over wine so clearly it was a good night), and delicious wine.
Now, I’m not the authority to have a proper discussion on what makes good steak great, but what I can talk about is how brilliant the quintessentially Argentinian pairing of Malbec and a steak is. The wine tends to have high but smooth tannins, making it a good friend of salt in food (which is actually the traditional seasoning for an Argentinian steak… Yep, just salt, no fancy rubs here!). The more premium styles tend to be made out of grapes harvested from an altitude, which gives it a pretty decent amount of acidity, making perfect for cutting through the fatty bits of steak. Of course, this means I highly recommend this pairing for an authentic Argentinian meal (short of kidnapping Nico Bolzico for company*).
What makes dining and drinking in El Gaucho even more special is that they’ve introduced the casual digestif culture through their signature vodka caramel shooters. I’m not a dessert fan, but this baby is great for getting rid of all that flavor from the meal (lunch or dinner, I’m not judging). In fact, it was one of the first things I asked about when they opened (“Will you also have the caramel vodka shooters? I have photos of the bottle I drank in Bangkok.” Yep, I’m a drink dork). They typically use Belvedere vodka, add some caramel to it, and chill it until the bottle gets frosty. Fair warning: It’s a pretty potent shooter (I’ve seen many a wasted person both in Bangkok and Manila after a few of these guys), especially after so much wine, so it’s best to drink responsibly.
Those who have a hankering for a true-blue Argentinian meal (with drinks to match!) can check out:
El Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse
G/F Trump Tower at Century City
Kalayaan Avenue, Salamanca
(open daily from 11am – 2am)
*For the record, I’m not telling people to kidnap anyone, and Nico Bolzico is not endorsing anything for this article
P.S. Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Ku!