BANGKOK RESTAURANT

Gen

Jidori-ya Ken's sister restaurant goes well beyond succulent yakitori.

4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

This brainchild of Kenichi Nagata, the man behind Sukhumvit Soi 26’s Jidori-ya Ken (previously Jidori-ya Kenzou, arguably the best yakitori in town), stands out as the only Japanese-style house in Ekkamai’s Acmen complex. Gen goes well beyond its grilled chicken-specializing sister to serve up a wider variety of meat grilled on binchotan charcoal. While the free-range chicken still stands as one of the stars (try the slightly-roasted breast with yuzu kosho paste), Nagata also does some fine Japanese wagyu.

For over a decade, Sukhumvit Soi 26’s Jidori Cuisine Ken (formerly Jidori-ya Kenzo) has been the go-to for Japanophile foodies seeking Bangkok’s best yakitori (charcoal-grilled chicken skewers)—crisp exterior, very little charring and a moist, perfectly cooked interior.

Gen, the 2016 follow-up from Jidori’s founder, Kenichi Nagata, extends the yaki focus to wagyu beef, pork, seafood and veggies, plus Japanese mainstays like sashimi, katsudon (rice topped with a pork cutlet) and soba. But rest assured, this log cabin-evoking restaurant round the back of Ekkamai does equally amazing things to chicken.

Grilled over binchotan charcoal, a skewer like the teriyaki chicken thigh (B120) spruced up with sansho (a Japanese pepper with a slight tingly kick) is simple yet rewarding, packing a medley of textures into each morsel. It’s the little things that stand out, like the lightly-roasted chicken breast’s dab of yuzu kosho (B160)—a citrus-y, spicy, salty paste that’s pure flavor. The chicken liver (B70) is buttery and comes in a sweet teriyaki coating that masks any trace of bitterness.
 
Gen’s broader menu doesn’t mean a drop in quality. Upon a bed of crisp mizuna and sunflower sprouts with only the lightest of soy sauce dressings, the chopped sashimi salad (B380) bursts with flavors of the ocean, while the charcoal-seared saba (mackerel, B290) tastes of pungent, pickled goodness. Even the lowliest cut of beef, a well-seasoned, grilled brisket brochette (B200), and the French fries (B150), oil-free and airy straws dusted with aonori seaweed powder, benefit from elevated attention to detail. 
 
While you’ll find a wider selection of chicken bits at Tori Tama down the road or, indeed, Jidori, Gen is arguably the better gateway to yakitori—there’s rare chicken breast (B170) for the hardcore, and a maguro (tuna) sashimi fallback (B590) for the intimidated. A full two menu pages dedicated to seasonal delicacies makes for return visits. We also love the rich matcha white chocolate fondue (B290) and it’s dainty Japanese treats for dipping.
 
Gen’s not perfect: the old-timey jazz soundtrack is a bit much and the ground floor’s slightly awkward layout (two bar counters and a great big empty space in the middle) takes away part of the cramped izakaya charm. Overall, though, the service and presentation are a good level above your usual boisterous Japanese tavern—even if the constant peals of laughter from upstairs on our last visit did suggest a fun Suntory time in full swing (highballs from B180).
 

This review took place in September 2017 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.
 
Venue Details
Address: Gen, Acmen Complex, 267/31 Sukhumvit Soi 63 (Ekkamai), Bangkok, Thailand
Phone: 02-048-0008
Website: www.facebook.com/gen.japanese.charcoal.grill
Area: Ekkamai
Cuisine: Japanese
Open since: September, 2016
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 5:30pm-noon; Sun 5pm-10am
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