Kaizen Sushi & Hibachi
The buzz: Located near the popular Sushi Masa, this new sushi restaurant is owned by a group of chefs who have each been in the business for more than 15 years. Those looking for some entertainment take note, the place offers hibachi (teppanyaki) demonstrations, too.
The décor: Pretty simple. Kaizen has probably the most typical Japanese vibe of all the restaurants here. Think light toned wooden furnishing and a dominant sushi counter.
The food: Sushi sets range from B280-B1,800, with the Kaizen Onsen Sashimi Set (B2,500) particularly popular, while you can also opt for Matsusaka beef, uni (sea urchin) or foie gras. Their rolls are also a hit; try the Sexy Roll (tuna and salmon maki topped with tempura flour, B250), the foie gras maki (B420) or Snowman Roll (flounder’s fin and crabmeat, B350). Hibachi set lunches range from B180-B380. For something more showy, try the wagyu with seafood (B980).
The drinks: Refill tea is B25. Sake starts from B350 and draught Asahi is B59.
The crowd: Office workers at lunch and families on weekends, as well as groups of college students drawn by the very reasonable prices.
Despite the blond wood furnishings, Kaizen’s mini-mall location (beneath an office building), low ceiling and numerous tables produce a vibe that’s more dumpling canteen than Japanese fine-dining. The unpretentious atmosphere and reasonable prices draw groups of office workers, families and even students, all of whom are seeking out Kaizen’s big flavors and portions.
Rather than nitpick over the delicate art of chopping up raw fish, diners here are more likely to tuck into a plate piled high with some of the restaurant’s signature maki. The Sexy Roll (B450), which comes warmly recommended by the grizzled sushi chefs behind the counter, almost has the garish looks and junk-food flavors of humble dishes like takoyaki (squid balls) or okonomiyake (a kind of pancake). Heaped with tempura batter flakes, drizzled in a sweet sauce and stuffed with cream cheese, avocado, tempura shrimp and more, the dish makes a California roll look plain and traditional. At this point, the fact that the Sexy Rolls are rolled either in salmon or tuna becomes almost irrelevant to your overloaded palate and stuffed mouth.
For those who do like to actually taste their fish, the sashimi here is pretty average despite the big (and numerous) chunks making up their sets (B400-B2,500). The salmon is fatty, but also a tad muddy-tasting, while the hamachi (yellowtail) and toro (tuna) have that slightly metallic, bloody flavor. The cuts are sometimes a bit rough, too, with sand in the clams, bits of skin left attached to the fish’s flesh, or cuts along the grain when they shouldn’t be.
We were also surprised that the kampachi (a fish similar to yellowtail, but often farmed), although good, was pre-soaked in soy sauce on our last visit, probably to mask the slightly dry appearance we spotted of certain chunks in the sushi bar’s fridge. Similarly, the hibachi (grilled) dishes range from surprisingly decent (a moist, flakey saba, B260) to underwhelming (a very dry salmon drizzled with an overly sweet soy sauce, B350).
Service, too, has its highs and lows: although warm, staff are also casual and sloppy. We wouldn’t really take a date here (let alone a picky sushi connoisseur), but if you’re with a famished gang that won’t wait 40 minutes for a table at the nearby Sushi Masa, this place is fairly solid value for money. Corkage B200.
|Address:||Kaizen Sushi & Hibachi, L Building, 308 Phayathai, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||daily 10am-10pm|
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