Marlin Cafe

This Ari restaurant serves both Japanese and Western dishes in a clean and industrial dining room

Average: 2 (1 vote)

This cool addition to the Ari neighborhood serves both Japanese and Western dishes in a clean and industrial dining room—steel, concrete, glass and greenery. Their fresh Take sashimi set consists of salmon, tuna, yellowtail, saba and octopus, served with a choice of pickled or fresh wasabi, while the French-inspired Japanese fare consists of dishes like Foie Gras Chill Chill, a grilled salmon roll topped with seared foie gras. 

With its bipolar mix of Japanese and Western comfort food, craft cocktails and alluring, industrial-tinged decor, Marlin reads pretty much like the quintessential Ari restaurant. The setting comes courtesy of Bangkok interior design doyens Be Gray (Casa Lapin), who dim the lights on their winning formula of brick, concrete, metal and greenery to achieve a mood that’s sophisticated yet somehow still twee, and altogether charming.

The food falls into two categories—sushi and Japanese-Western fusion. Neither is particularly subtle, though the massively-portioned maki and rolls have a sort of more-is-more appeal. The So Salmon rolls (aburi salmon, avocado, tempura bits and spicy sauce, B240) are dense, crunchy and gooey—we’ll have to take the kitchen’s word that the salmon is fresh, though, because we simply can’t taste it under all that treacly sauce. It’s a similar story with the barbecue pork spareribs (starting at B350). The meat falls off the bone at the slightest nudge, but there’s no depth or tenderness, as if the over-sweet sauce has been slapped on at the last moment. The side of under-cooked potatoes is about as sad as they come, too, though the crisp and non-greasy tempura onion rings get a tentative thumbs up.

Elsewhere on the menu, the Kaisen Seafood Salad (B280) is another heavy-handed serving, featuring a generous amount of fresh salmon, squid and crabstick that’s drowning in a searing dressing. The creamy, Japanese-inspired pasta with prawn roe (B250) boasts a surprisingly balanced combination of seaweed and onsen egg, but the end result is more comforting blandness than anything inspiring.

Of course, plating is immaculate. Service is quick if a little over-eager—on our last visit, the food beat the drinks by a good 25 minutes. On that topic, we will vouch for the mellow, Japan-indebted cocktails, created in collaboration with Niks Anuman (Drinks Academy, half the cool bars around town). When you factor in big servings, drink prices that won’t kill you and a live music corner, we can see why Marlin makes for a popular hangout spot, but the kitchen’s offerings are patchy at best.

This review took place in October 2015 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: Marlin Cafe, 117/4-5 Paholyothin Soi 7, Bangkok, Thailand
Phone: 02-023-3438
Area: Ari
Cuisine: Japanese, Western
Price Range: BBB
Opening hours: daily 3:30-11pm
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