Every once in a while dreams come true, and the food fantasies that you have floating in your head materialize into something real. That is exactly what happened when I visited Billy’s Smokehouse in Bangkok Thailand. This underrated hidden gem is the brainchild of the same powerhouse couple Billy (William Bautista) and Oh (Kasama Laopanich) behind the wildly successful Mexican taqueria La Monita. In the 10 years since they started La Monita, they have since added Billy’s Smokehouse which opened up in the fall of 2018, along with Osito Spanish tapas bar and their new Michelin recognized Thai eatery Thainiyom. With all those balls in the air, it may seem like a bit of a balancing act to effectively execute so many different styles of cuisine, but don’t let them fool you, Chef Billy is a “master of meat”, and his soulful interpretations of American style BBQ is some of the best you will find in Bangkok, and dare I say, on par with some of the best I have eaten in the USA.
Firstly, a word of warning, this place is not for the faint of heart, and you should be prepared to forego the cutlery, eat with your hands, lick your fingers and make sure you have both your manicurist and dry cleaner on speed dial after a visit here. It’s best enjoyed when you get down dirty, and leave your inhibitions at the door. Billy’s Smokehouse is all about slow cooking, and this restaurant pays homage to the inherent beauty of BBQ. They understand the fundamentals of how fire and smoke and flame meet proteins along with simple seasonings give birth to sheer perfection. This is the king of “good eats” that miraculously surpass the sum of its parts. It takes a world of talent, patience, and skill to do it right, and this restaurant is well ahead of the curve. “ Most people don’t truly understand the time and labor that goes into producing real BBQ”;shared Billy, ”it’s not just sourcing the meat, the trial and error of finding the right wood be it hickory or cherry wood, but it is the sheer investment of time it takes to smoke meat properly. It’s often days, not hours, and you have to be very committed to the process.”
I’m not going to waste too much time describing the décor and the vibe, expect to say that it’s a warm, welcoming industrial urban hangout that beckons you in and dares you to stay. The restaurant was inspired from the numerous backyard BBQ’s that Billy and Oh had for family and friends over the years, and evolved into a laidback space where people can gather, kick back relax and share the type of food that Billy is most passionate about. I should also mention the stellar collection of spirits and libations you will find at Billy’s Smokehouse. Because of the close proximity to their various other restaurants, you gain access to an amazing wine cellar, some of the best Mexican tequilas and mescals, a selection of more than 55+ of world-class international bespoke gins, and admirable craft beer selection. I personally fell in love with the small batch Four Pillars from Australian which is served with pink peppercorns, artisan Fentimans tonic water and a fragrant twist of lemon peel. You can enjoy a daily happy hour with drink specials, but those in the know hanker for the “off the menu” Bourbon Mojito which is made with no less than 4 shots of Jack Daniels bourbon. Most full-service pubs and bar fail to offer such a wide variety of thoughtfully crafted cocktails and beverages that you will find here and the majority of them are deceptively formidable and will sneak up on you if you’re not too careful.
Once you’re ready to tuck into the main attraction which is the BBQ, you’ll be confronted with a dizzying array of options. There is pork, poultry, seafood and beef, but the real show stopper is the 24-hour slow cooked brisket and short ribs. Smokey, succulent, juicy and ant, both pieces of meat literally left me a little weak in the knees. I began with the Chef’s Choice Premium Platter made to share. It includes USDA Choice mesquite smoked Black Angus beef brisket, Australian Black Angus beef short ribs, smoked pork spare ribs, beef Hot Link sausage, pork Botifarra sausage, 2 buttermilk biscuits, 2 slices of cornbread, coleslaw, potato salad and corn salad. I also really enjoyed the pork ribs which were alternatively smoked with hickory and Applewood, both of which were delectable. All the side dishes are yummy too, with nice acidity and a bevy of tantalizing sauces to appeal to any palate, although, frankly the meats really were perfect on their own. When it comes to steak they only have ribeye and tenderloin and I was treated to the Australian Wagyu 5+ Rib Eye which was to die for. Super tender, fatty and juicy, it was perfection on the plate.
They also have some innovative pasta dishes and a bevy of grilled seafood(clams, mussels, scallops, crab, bass and cod), and I tried some dishes from the lunch menu which included their Billy burger made with 100% Australian Wagyu Beef Chuck. This sloppy masterpiece features two thin beef patties, white cheddar, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and a homemade secret sauce. The other highlight was the Reuben made with their juicy and succulent smoked corned beef, sauerkraut, Gruyere cheese, Russian dressing on a whole wheat Panini pressed with butter. I haven’t had a sandwich this good since I left NYC, and the fatty richness will knock you off your feet in the best possible way.
Everything I tasted here was scrumptious, and it was a BBQ experience that made me feel close to home in a way I have n’t experienced in 15 years of living in Bangkok. They are the real deal when it comes to American style BBQ in the city and its one thing you want to make sure you don’t miss when you visit.