Japanophile foodies take note
The thinking man’s choice. Forget smoking indoors and raucous irasshaimase! choruses—instead, think well-crafted cocktails (get the apple martini) and fresh sashimi served up before a formidable wall of booze: mezzanine-height shelves stacked with countless spirits and rice wines. For the most part, the food is designed to soak up all that booze: small portions, plenty of spicy and deep-fried options, and Hanakurata’s famous “pizza.”
Sathorn Soi 10, 097-140-7403. Open daily 5:30pm-1am. Other branch: Sukhumvit Soi 39
Japanophile foodies mention Jidori with eyes rolled to the ceiling and tongue lolling thanks to its awesome, charcoal-grilled chicken skewers—crisp exterior, very little charring, and a moist, perfectly cooked interior. But before you start to eat, take in the atmosphere. The space has all the authenticity and log cabin charm of a genuine Tokyo tavern—although the service is so polished and the food’s presentation so delicate, calling this place a tavern feels a bit rude.
10/12 Sukhumvit Soi 26, 02-661-3457. BTS Phrom Phong. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight; Sun 5-10pm
The specialty here is tonkatsu (breaded pork), but these guys will bread and deep-fry just about anything—fish, shrimp, vegetables, bits of liver, anything. Raw fish dishes like maguro tataki (tuna) and bintoro aburi (albacore) are lightly blow-torched instead. With dark wood and dim lighting, this narrow shophouse has a cozy, tavern-like atmosphere. It’s a versatile venue, perfect for both a quick lunch or a marathon drinking session. Grab a whisky cocktail, or a frosty mug of draft Asahi.
9/1 Silom Soi 6, 02-237-3073. Mon-Sat 11am-2pm, 6-10pm; Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30-9:30pm
This izakaya is named after Grace Kelly and offers a stream of classic comfort food—nabe (hot pot), teppanyaki (griddles), takoyaki balls, wings, noodles and more. The teriyaki skewers are excellent. The owner is from Nagoya and works some regional favorites into the menu, too. Drinks include cheap and colorful cocktails, a lengthy selection of sake, shochu and umeshu, and requisite Asahi draft beers. The vibrant ‘50s-style decor makes a refreshing change from your usual tavern vibe, and there’s even a bottomless drink promotion.
46 Sukhumvit Soi 51, 02-662-5155. Mon-Sat 5:30-10pm
With colorful upturned beer crates for seats (don’t worry, they’re padded), abundant faux cherry blossoms, bamboo walls and hanging Japanese lanterns, this is certainly one for the ‘gram. You can wash down a range of sushi, yakitori and tempura with an unusual lavender or tomato flavored beer, or a very reasonably-priced liter of Asahi—probably the source of the crowd’s raucousness as the evening draws on.
155/1 Sukhumvit Soi 23, 02-058-0248. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; daily 5pm-midnight. Other branch: Sukhumvit Soi 33.
Born in Tokyo, and now 20-strong across Asia, this izakaya’s specialty is motsuyaki—skewers grilled over binchotan charcoal. The meat is typically seasoned with salt or tare sauce (soy, sake, mirin and sugar). Skewer options include chicken, pork and beef, with prices starting at just B29. Try the beef tongue, pig diaphragm, or smooth tsukune (chicken meatballs), or go for a chicken teriyaki rice bowl. Veggie options are also available.
Warehouse 26, Sukhumvit Soi 26, 097-232-4782 and 02-070-7676. Open daily 5:30pm-midnight
At last count, one of only two Okinawan restaurants in Bangkok (see Kinjo, below), Nirai Kanai is just the place to knock back a few draught Sapporos or Asahis before hitting the Thonglor party strip. Dishes like aburi saba sushi (seared saba) and the drink-friendly aji tataki (pounded mackerel) are great value for money, but it’s the boisterous, saloon-like vibe that has us coming back for more.
Thonglor Soi 11, 02-381-2882. Open daily daily 5pm-midnight
Jaded foodies looking for a quick fix of adventure should visit this modest, multi-floor izakaya shophouse dedicated to Okinawan cuisine. Beyond the recognizable gyoza and takowasabi, expect dishes brimming with textures of tofu, fermented fish and spam (yes, spam) all washed down with copious Asahi.
24/1 Sukhumvit Soi 69, 02-711-0536. Open daily 11:30am-midnight. BTS Phra Khanong.
This isn’t Japanese fine dining. It’s an Osaka-inspired chain representing the essence of an izakaya pub; down to earth, great food and incredible late night hours with cold Asahi. The menu for both drinks and food are extensive, and won’t drain your wallet. Specialties include kasu udon (beef noodles), Osaka-style okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and yakitori sets that offer whole chickens in five parts. Beneath the kitsch red lanterns, as closing time approaches, the Japanese crowd grows more and more boisterous.
PS Tower, 36/1 Sukhumvit Soi 21, 02-664-0927. Mon-Thurs 11am-3am; Fri 11am-5am; Sat 3pm-5am; Sun 3pm3am. 14 branches around Bangkok.
Available to order on Food Panda.
Teppen Best Izakaya
From the long bar, watch the chefs sear bonito fish over a straw fire for the delicate katsuo warayaki. The robatayaki (charcoal barbecue) and karaage (deepfried chicken) pair perfectly with sake and highballs.
14/2 Sukhumvit Soi 61, 063-205-1889. Open Mon-Fri 6pm-midnight; Sat 5pm-midnight; Sun 5-11pm. Other branch: Sathorn.
Available to order on Food Panda.
Exclusively for Citi credit card members:
This Tokyo-born yakitori (skewer) specialist prides itself on using virtually every part of the chicken, including delicacies like misaki (hen’s tail) and chicken oyster (the dark meat close to the thigh). The space resembles a sleek omakase sushi restaurant, with its open kitchen, blond-wood, U-shaped counter and glass display cases, while a little door near the entrance grants access to the next door sister sake bar, Orihara Shoten.
Park Lane, 18 Sukhumvit Soi 63 (Ekkamai), 02-382- 0141. Open Tue-Sun 6-11pm.
This izakaya is managed by the same people behind Teppen (see above) and serves bar bites in a pared-back, modern Japanese interior. Promising lots of chef-customer interaction, the restaurant's signature dishes include six kinds of kushiyaki (grilled chicken and pork skewers). Naturally, you should wash it down with sake, either in cocktail form or as part of a set.
Bandara Suites Silom, 75/1 Sala Daeng Soi 1, 02-236-8230. Open Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, 5-11pm; Sat-Sun 5-11pm
Put on your stretchy pants, forget about the macros and tuck in to BK Best Eats 2019. This is the Bangkok dining that ignores fancy restaurants and 10-course tasting menus and goes straight for the comfort food—steaming bowls of fat-rich ramen, triple-decker burgers, all-you-can-eat dim sum buffets with an extra helping of pork buns. In other words, the stuff most of us eat out, most of the time.
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