Oji, 111/1 Phahon Yothin Soi 7, Bangkok, Thailand
Nearest Train:BTS Ari
Opening Hours:Thu-Sun 5-11pm; Mon 5-11pm; Tue 5-11pm
Open Since:June, 2012
Unlike the very best sushi bars, Oji is not a place to experience the simple, yet divine subtleties of fresh seafood. Instead, this venue offers a more contemporary approach to Japanese food, one that represents the two chefs’ time working in a Japanese restaurant in the USA. The result is something that’s certainly not refined, nor is it necessarily new, but it does offer some powerful flavors and interesting fusion options; even if there are other places doing it better. It’s not just the food that’s trying to be different—Oji doesn’t have a typical sushi bar vibe either. Having moved from their original site on Chan Road, they are now trying to win over the it-crowd of Ari, in part through the striking black and white décor, complete with modern furnishings and photos lining the white brick feature walls. The fusion focus is represented in the different kinds of maki, like deep-fried, cucumber wrapped and slightly out-there ingredients like strawberry and mango. The recommended Beauty and the Beast (tuna, eel, avocado, asparagus and masago maki, B289) and Da-ra-gon roll (ebi tempura, eel, avocado, masago mayo and eel, B199) both offer a similar experience—you can’t really taste the subtlety of the fish but you will enjoy the powerful, slightly spicy sauce. The Oji roll (spicy shrimp, avocado, cream cheese and tempura topped with mayonnaise and tobiko, B279) is a more delicate affair and the best thing we’ve tried here. The dish comes with lovely crispy textured seaweed that’s crunchy on the outside, while, again, there’s a very flavorful topping. While the fusion is OK, the classic offerings are a disappointment. The very average avocado salad (B149) comes with an extremely salty sesame dressing that tastes like it came out of a bottle. The sashimi set is worse (B628 for 16 pieces): containing rather sad tasting pieces of mackerel, salmon and imitation crab sticks, it’s very second-rate and not unlike what’s served at chain restaurants. Service is not unfriendly but a little lethargic. The big positive is that at least the young, cute chefs are trying to do something that is not so mainstream. So skip the fresh sushi in favor of the fusion rolls, clearly designed for the Thai palate. No corkage charge for wine, B300 for liquors.