Last month I had the honor to attend a press/media event at the Whisgars on Silom (official Facebook page). Whisgars is a place “where classic meets cool”. As you’d imagine from the name they provide a rich woody atmosphere with lots of comfortable leather couches to lounge on as you pamper yourself with amazing whiskies and/or cigars. I’m a a big fan of what we call “brown juice” in my house– and their whisky selections are amazing.
My few occasions of smoking Swisher Sweets in my past left a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to cigars. Linda, Whisgars Cigar Curator, was so passionate about cigars that I finally broke down and had one…I’m glad I did as it’s very enjoyable and for those 20 minutes or so I felt “sophisticated” with my whisky and cigar as I listened to some mellow live jazz.
Whisgars has a secret…
I was enjoying the vibe of the scene, the great conversation, whisky pours, and for the first time in my life a “real” cigar. Honestly, I was in a pretty happy place. What I didn’t expect was for them to reveal their newest menu item, a pastrami sandwich. I was immediately catapulted from happy to ecstatic. This was the best pastrami sandwich I’ve had to date in Bangkok. I’ve had some good ones, too.
I listened to the story of it’s creation. How it took 3 months to perfect the recipe. How someone who traveled frequently to New York brought back a Katz hat and crowned the chef with it stating, “Yours is better.”. As I devoured this meaty sandwich I just kept thinking, I must write about this.
I asked if I could do a write up on the sandwich in collaboration with my good friend, The Roaming Cook. They were on board with it, and they put together an amazing afternoon at their Whisgars Soi 23 (official Facebook page) location with an opportunity for us to meet the creator of this sandwich masterpiece, Chef Jeffrey.
You need THIS.
This is it. Honestly the picture says it all, doesn’t it? This pastrami sandwich is full of chunks of perfectly seasoned, juicy, tender beef. This is the meat, not the fat. Thin slices of pickle, and a little spread mustard, give it that perfect tanginess. All of it is held together with toasted rye bread. Put the knife and fork away, folks. This is a sandwich that needs to be held. You can pick up the chunks of beef that spill out later–and you will.
You can enjoy this pastrami masterpiece from Whisgars’ cozy lounge, or if you feel like being outdoors and enjoying it with a cold craft beer on draft there’s the option of enjoying it outside in the courtyard. Actually, there’s a lot of places you can enjoy it. Because…
It’s more than Whisgars!
One thing we discovered about Whisgars on Soi 23 is that the location is much, much more than we expected. It’s now a complex containing different venues to satisfy everyones boozie/foodie cravings. The entire complex is called “BKK23”. The signage shows that it houses Whisgars, the Little Wine Bar, Craft, and the Slanted Taco. See the blank sign? That is where the name of the venue specializing in pastrami sandwiches and other delicious food will be announced.
There’s ample shaded outside seating in the courtyard facing the Craft area. Maybe whisky isn’t your thing. Maybe you like beer. Craft offers 40 beers on tap. Their selection is so impressive I was surprised to find one of my favorite brews in their library, Flying Dog Raging Bitch IPA for 380++ baht a pint. It’s not cheap, but it’s my favorite and here’s where I can get it. Besides, at 8.3% ABV you don’t need to order too many of these. For this visit I actually opted to get the less boozy Bear Republic Pace Car Racer IPA for 340++ baht a pint to enjoy with my sandwich.
Some like it hot!
Maybe sandwiches and BBQ are not what you want with your beer. Maybe you prefer something a little more spicy? BKK23 offers you some excellent Mexican fare via its Slanted Taco (official Facebook page) restaurant. Luckily we were able to sample some some of their popular dishes.
We started with a Tacos Mix (beef, chicken, and pork) (230 baht). They are delicious tacos. The meats are tender and juicy, with plenty of onion and cilantro. The two most impressive features are the thick homemade corn tortillas (these don’t explode in your hands on the first bite) and the fiery chili sauce side that is weapons grade spicy–but keeps you coming back for more!
We then shared a Chicken Burrito (210 baht). It is made with tender shredded chicken, cheese, salsa, and beans wrapped in a soft tortilla. It comes cut in half so it’s easy to share. The one standout of this dish is the beans. They are delicious! They have a rich smokiness that really surprised both of us.
We ended our sampling with their most popular appetizer, the Choriqueso (250 baht). It comes with 4 soft flour tortillas and salsa. From the name alone you’ve probably figured out that this dish is made with smoky, tangy chorizo and loads of melty, gooey cheese. We built some mini burritos with this, the salsa, and some leftover fiery chili sauce (I regret nothing!!). It’s a pretty tasty appetizer and I can see how it would be so popular.
Like what you’ve read? Check out the video!
I really enjoy doing collaboration reviews with my friend The Roaming Cook because he’s a lot of fun, we get to try more dishes, and he always puts together some great videos. If you enjoyed reading about our experience I am confident you will love the video!
A chat with the chef!
Chef Jeffrey Pittman is a Thailand native and is a self taught chef. He’s worked at the BKK23 complex since the Spring of 2016 and he loves cooking for a kitchen that services both of the menus for Whisgars and the Slanted Taco. He was tasked with the “mission” to create the perfect pastrami sandwich. Chef Jeffrey had actually never tried a pastrami sandwich. But being a self taught chef he had no fear of venturing into the unknown or repeatedly starting over after numerous failed attempts. After much research, much trial and error, and 3 months of experimentation, he finally felt that he created something special. If you’re a pastrami enthusiast I would wager you would agree.
A passion for creativity…
Chef Jeffrey’s passion is “making ingredients that shouldn’t work together actually work well together”. He gets to sharpen his creative culinary skills designing private dinner menus for the The Whisgars Syndicate (a special members program) when they have their monthly intimate member dinners. One dish he was especially proud of was making a foam from caramelized pork to top perfectly seared scallops. He enjoys being able to cook within a large range of menu items be it a medium cooked hamburger for the folks enjoying a beer in front of Craft or a dish of pan seared foi gras, duck breast, pear mango fluid, and duck emulsion for private dinners.
He’s young, fearless, and passionate about what he does. Yet he’s also mild mannered, humble, and easy to warm up to. Two qualities you wouldn’t think would work together but he pulls it off very well.
You had me at pastrami! How do I get there?
Whisgars and the BKK23 complex are located on Soi 23 within an easy walking distance of the Sukhumvit MRT station or Asok BTS station. You really can’t miss it, but if concerned let Google Maps be your guide. There is something to please pretty much every foodie or boozie appetite. My recommendation would be to try their pastrami sandwich with the adult beverage of your choice!