Eating Beef at the Thai-French Farm at Pon Yang Kham, Sakon Nakhon
When it comes to premium beef made in Thailand, the buzzword “Thai-French” is what you are looking for. This quality beef is born from a project in the late 70s supported by the Thai military (which were governing at the time… deja vu) and the French government.
The Pon Yang Kham Cooperative (สหกรณ์การเลี้ยงปศุสัตว์ กรป. กลาง โพนยางคำ จำกัด), reputed as the best beef producer in Thailand, bred together a local cow with a hybrid of two Europeans cattle, namely the Charolais and the Limousin.
It is good to understand that while the Pon Yang Kham Beef has it’s own GI (Geographical Identification) and is referred to as Thai-French beef, the term “Thai-French Beef” itself isn’t regulated.
The cooperative has over 50 members at the moment spread over three provinces. I went where it all started, the village of Pon Yang Kham (โพนยางคำ) which is less than 15 km from the town of Sakon Nakhon (สกลนคร) or 650 km from Bangkok.
Arrived there, I spotted the butcher shop with their fleet of frozen transportation vehicles and their very modest restaurant.
After a quick glance at the butcher shop, I headed to the restaurant as I was craving for some Thai-French beef. The restaurant is simple and knowing they sell their best cuts to high-end restaurants in Bangkok, you understand that this place isn’t crucial for the cooperative.
This is a very simple open-air restaurant with wooden tables and an old-school vibe. I went on a Saturday afternoon and the place wasn’t busy with only two families eating. Looking at the menu, they offer steaks, Thai style grilled meat and Thai prepared dishes with beef, of course.
I went for a T-Bone priced at 420 Baht (13$) with a Thai raw beef salad called
The koy, a staple in this region of Thailand, arrived first. I ordered it sour and specified not bitter, meaning without bile and piya (เพี้ย). The meat was minced so much that it was paste-like and along the very salty and sour flavours, it was hard to conceive it is indeed raw meat. The meat wasn’t bloody at all, making it much less gnarly than usual. Overall, this was the best version of the dish I had.
Then came the T-Bone! A good sized piece served with a salad and a few french fries. The cut was too thin tho, which would prove to be a challenge to cook it medium-rare. As funny as it sounds, the striploin side came out very medium and the tenderloin side very rare. I guess I got my medium-rare steak. The striploin part was a bit stiffer, but still with juicy fatty flavours while the rare tenderloin was a tasty melt in your mouth experience. Good steak, but it was definitely too thin.
After paying the bill, I went to see some of the stables I spotted on the way. Understand that it was freaking hot and no animal were roaming the pasture in the middle of the afternoon.
These animals are huge! Not the same kind you can see roaming the fields along the road. There was also a monument in memory a Mr.Francois Dervaux, the Frenchman who started the cooperative.
Then I went back to the town of Sakon Nakhon and this is how my experience at the Pon Yang Kham (โพนยางคำ) farm finished. I am glad I’ve seen the source of where it all started for this premium Thai beef.
Here is a map with the location of the shop and restaurant.
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