What arrives at the table bathed in Japanese soy sauce checks out. It looks like chicken; it smells about right. But put the meat in your mouth and chew, a bouncy gelatinous texture not at all like chicken. Congratulations, my friend, those are bull balls in your mouth.
The ox testicles were only the start of it. Pork liver, chicken giblets and abalone are all on the menu at a new downtown restaurant in the capital’s shopping district alongside regular cuts of beef, chicken, scallops and tofu all cooked in unique ways that seem to defy logic to bring new flavor experiences.
Schwedakong Land is the creation of Bangkok chef Wassapol “Kong” Saengseethong, who leveraged social media fame as a weird food creator with internet-ready geek appeal – not many chefs contemplate what manga meals taste like – who hacked “impossible” meals a schooled chef wouldn’t consider. Along the way, he’s made many edible dishes out of things many would think of as weird or disgusting.
Now regarded an avante garde chef in his own right, Wassapol’s hasn’t changed course at his new downtown restaurant. For the Pork Liver Donburi (THB150), he uses osmotic dehydration to dry meat of blood before marinating it in baking powder and salt for a chewy texture and less of the iron taste that turns some off. Prefer a smooth, creamy texture? Try the Chicken Giblet Donburi (THB150), another signature that uses a similar technique but with an end result that melts in the mouth.
The restaurant opened a few weeks ago in Soi Kasem San 1, just around the corner from the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Prior to that, Wassapol had been serving friends and guests for eight years at his west Bangkok home, but the pandemic meant more family at home and wanting to cook meals.
So now he’s moved his kitchen into the first floor of a townhouse downstairs from a friend’s fitness studio. The mood is loft style with bare concrete floors and walls that still give off a very homey vibe. The kitchen is open, so customers can pass by and follow the action at any time. Currently, there are only two tables, and both face a giant TV showing food documentaries, recreating that feeling of eating at foodie friend’s home.
The chef says he will soon offer even wilder dishes at the restaurant that bears the nomme de cuisine he adopted when entering the online foodie community in the early noughties. Back then, as SchwedaKong, he was a graphic designer who rose to fame documenting his takes on different cuisines and bringing a geek sensibility by recreating recipes from Japanese manga and anime to share over OG webboard Pantip.
“Maybe next month I will do the food course inspired by Japanese manga The Way of the Househusband,” he said, referring to the series Gokushufudo. “But we just opened for a month so we want something that can be done quickly and not too complicated first.”
For now, gastronomic adventures await your mouth in the form of Ox’s Testicle Donburi (THB150), an organ the chef said he was inspired to use after tasting grilled bull balls at an Egyptian restaurant in Nana. All donburis, or Japanese rice bowls, are served with raw egg yolk to harmonize the rice with the choice of meats, including the aforementioned giblets and liver.
Not into something weird? There are more mass-friendly basics that are still interesting such as the Stock-steamed Rice with Beef Dipping in Chinese BBQ Sauce (THB250), Wassapol’s own recipe that he came up with while studying the difference between Chinese rice pulao and Indian biryani.
And the magic Wassapol cultivated on screen survived translation to the table at a recent visit. What risks being gimmick food was actually great, and Wassapol was a charming host.
That may be less the case for non-meat eaters, as there are no meatless mains served for now.
In the coming months, return patrons may see some of the legendary dishes that made SchwedaKong an internet sensation, like his blood eggs and san bu nian, a two-egg dessert recipe inspired by Japanese manga Iron Wok Jan that he spent a decade developing.
Wassapol says the menu will change weekly or more often depending on availability of ingredients.
Current specials are listed online and should be pre-ordered by telephone for best results; same goes for reservations.
Schwedakong Land is located on Soi Kasem San 1, a short walk from BTS National Stadium. It’s open noon to 8pm and closed on Wednesday and Sunday.
Soi Kasem San 1
Noon-8pm daily except Wednesday and Sunday
BTS National Stadium
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