Anyone who can’t bear to see last night’s dinner go to waste will find a kindred spirit in one maverick Bangkok bistro owner. Sustainability in food might be a hot topic, but we can guarantee that few take the idea quite as literally as restaurateur Nattapong Kaweenuntawong.
At his nondescript eatery Wattana Panich, located in the bustling Ekkamai neighbourhood in the heart of the city, Kaweenuntawong stands out from his more polished competitors by serving a soup unlike anything else in the area. At the end of every shift, he gathers up any leftovers from the day’s cooking, reserves them, and uses them as the base for his next broth. The result is an “eternal” soup that has essentially been cooking for more than 45 years.
The method is actually rooted in the ancient Thai practice of “Hunter’s” or “Perpetual” stew, a technique that has been employed across the country for centuries. Kaweenuntawong says that he learned the technique from his father and that it helps lend his food a uniquely rich and nuanced taste.
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Although the cooking is unorthodox, the ingredients involved are far from exotic. Kaweenuntawong bases his broth on a mix of beef slices, tripe, organs and a secret blend of herbs and spices, all of which bubble away for several hours until they have amalgamated into a mysterious, hearty potion.
Despite the dish’s famously complex flavour, Kaweenuntawong claims that there is no official recipe. Instead, the soup has to be carefully balanced every day through constant tasting and adjusting, perfected only after years of experience.
Eating a soup that’s older than many diners might sound like an intimidating way to enjoy dinner, but if the restaurant’s continued success is anything to go by, there’s method in the 45-year madness.