Best Sushi in Bangkok

Heralded by the fashionable health mavens as a food genre with “good value for calories”, sushi, the little savory bite-size dainties imported from Japan and introduced to the world on a Godzilla scale, is a serious group of consumables to be reckoned with; from the gleaming avenues of New York to the bustling streets of Beirut, Japanese joints serving up this edible heritage can be discovered in abundance. Similarly, thanks to the large number of Japanese ex-pats residing in Bangkok, the popularity of sushi restaurants around the city has proliferated to an unsustainable degree. And as with anything done on a large scale: for every hit, there are three misses. But do not fret, for the best of the best have been found, and they have been addressed in this wasabi-spiced article.

Honmono Sushi is considered the top Japanese restaurant chain in Bangkok. The prices are steeper than the family-friendly Fuji establishments, to be sure, but as any gourmand critic will tell you, “it cost more for good reasons”. Quality and freshness here are everything; the seafood is flown in regularly from the legendary Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. The items from the menu to order are: “take sashimi platter” (think seven kinds of thinly sliced sea creatures, from melt-in-your-mouth torched tuna pieces to tentacular octopus flesh); “dragon roll” (barbequed fatty eel, avocado, refreshing cucumber and cream cheese topped with salty fish roe); “grilled-razor clam” (a fresh clam grilled to perfection with a splash of soy sauce to give it that extra pizzazz); and “Hokkaido crab sushi” (a large chunk of sweet and buttery crab meat on a bed of sweet sushi rice – divine).

A close competitor to the above juggernaut, albeit not as multi-branched, is Mugendai. With a rooftop setting and contemporary design, this is fine dining done in a casual setting. The items to sample from here are numerous, but the must-tries are “kinki shioyaki” (the kitchen’s signature grilled rockfish encrusted with premium salts – the price of which is stratospheric, but worth it if it’s a special occasion); “unagi foie gras” (grilled, freshwater eel sushi that is stuffed with a generous amount of decadent foie gras); “Aburi 7” (expensive sushi set featuring first-class cuts of bluefin tuna, giant scallops, snapper, halibut fin, salmon, Alaskan king crab, and Matsuzaka beef); and “Matsuzaka Gyu” (extraordinarily tender Matsuzaka beef made into sushi and crowned with quail egg yolk).

The next contender for the moreish fare is Isao; a Japanese restaurant famous for its fusion and innovative dishes that rival the best in Tokyo, and photogenic presentations that habitually grace Facebook walls. The typical order that is made by a frequented critic is “Jackie roll” (shaped to resemble a cartoonish caterpillar, it is sinewy and orangey sushi wrapped in thin layers of shrimp, and has tempura bedecked with qualified role in its center); “the volcano” (a mammoth button of scallop baked in a thick cream sauce resulting in a rich blob that resembles a globule of molten lava); “rosy salmon” (salmon sashimi layered on a diaphanous shaving of lemon and rolled into the shape of a blooming rose – practically haute cuisine); “sushi sandwich” (spicy tuna mixed with chunky salmon and crunchy tempura bits, wedged between two slices of sushi rice ‘bread’); and “winter” (silky white crab meat merged with Ebi shrimp, firm avocado and carrot, all wrapped in a paper-thin slice of a cucumber and left to stand in a smacking condiment).

For the posh set, Zuma is the brand name restaurant with the chichi chains located in the gilt cities of this world. Appearance is key; from the sophisticated fixtures that furnish the place, to the glamorous arrangement of the exotic ingredients on the plate. The patrons who visit are those who carry iPhones in designer leather cases everywhere they go. The following appellations are not to be skimmed over: “dynamite spider maki roll” (a luxurious cake of softshell crab, with chili mayonnaise and wasabi tobiko sauce as icing); “gyuhire sumibiyaki karami zuke” (a gasp-worthy beef tenderloin dressed in sesame, red chili, and sweet soy); “suzuki no osashimi” (immaculately sliced sea bass with zesty yuzu, and drizzled with truffle oil then capped with a helping of salmon roe); and “gindara saikyo misoyaki” (an excellent piece of black cod marinated in a special blend of miso paste).

If a touch of home cooking is wanted, Imoya is the place to return to again and again. Beloved for its interior, the inside of the shop evokes something from another era; when life was much simpler and the eating atmosphere cozier. The choices here are rather eclectic but grounded in a homey sort of way: the seafood hotpot is particularly good, and the sweet dip that accompanies it is even better; “tempura moriawase” (crispy shrimps with slices of squid and assorted vegetables); “cheese age” (fried cheese and bacon are as oily as it is tasty);  “saikoro beef steak” (the meat is seasoned to perfection and a pleasant surprise in the mouth); “kimuchi gyoza” (minced, moist pork enveloped in dumpling dough); and “tamayakoyaki” (a simple Japanese omelet that is unlike any other whisked eggs you might have had).

Whether you go for high-street nibbles or settle for the more economical bites, make sure to book into a hotel that is centrally located in town, preferably next to a BTS or MRT station, such as Mercure Bangkok Siam, so that getting to the best sushi offerings in Bangkok is an easy and enjoyable trip. On other hand, be warned that the wasabi served at true Japanese restaurants like the ones that are mentioned here are first-rate nose-blockers, so go lite on it!

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