Gaggan’s back, and he’s brought reinforcements from Japan.
The buzz: Gaggan Anand, four-time winner of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, partners with his long-time buddy Takeshi Fukushima (of La Maison de la Nature Goh in Fukuoka, Japan) to open a fine-dining restaurant where every course is about tofu—but not just any tofu. Mihara Tofu is a 57-year-old tofu-making facility from Kyushu where Gaggan and his Japan-scouring foodie friends (among them the owners of Khua Kling + Pak Sod and Tan Raitiemtarn of the smash food Instagram @itan) claim to have experienced tofu nirvana. The result is this: the world’s first omakase—a Japanese meal in which every course is selected by the chef—restaurant dedicated to tofu.
The decor: The upscale reinterpretation of Mihara’s defunct izakaya in Fukuoka sees a Chong Nonsi townhouse decked out in slabs of concrete, crisp mood lighting and a chunky slab of wood around which sit pert, white leather barstools. Your typical cypress-wood omakase counter, this ain’t. Three chefs brought over from the original Mihara join the local team in a kitchen where everything is on show.
The food: “Tofu omakase” does not mean you only get tofu for your B4,900. Far from it. At times the tofu is a bit player to ultra-tender slithers of Kobe beef rib-eye served suki style in a rich onion soup (a nod to Takeshi’s French culinary pedigree), or a fillet of sticky-sweet kinki fish (there’s where your money goes) topped with a tofu emulsion. At other times, it’s the star attraction: a wobbling cube of sesame-rich mochi tofu, a refreshing tofu “blancmange” with a shot of espresso and, in the case of the dish which Gaggan and co. say inspired the restaurant, a cool tofu milk dashi served with somen noodles. The entire experience plays out over 16 courses, kicking off with a shot of tofu milk and a three-tier bento box that allows you to sample Mihara’s products in all their simple glory (creamy yuki tofu, sesame-infused goma tofu and a millefeuille of yuba, or tofu skin), and ending on a similar tiffin of tofu sweets. Want the Mihara Tofuten experience for less? They also now serve B1,750 lunch sets.
The drink: Sommelier Brendan Dillon joins Mihara from Gaggan to curate pairings of sake, wine and umeshu (plum wine) on a scale sliding from B1,200-4,000. As you might expect, some flavors are well out of the ordinary, whether it’s a fruity-yet-dry orange wine from Marlborough's Pyramid Valley estate (paired with the somen), or the almost jam-like consistency of Niwa no Uguisu’s unripened plum umeshu (served with sea urchin maki). With 12 different alcohols to go with 16 courses, it’s also the most in-depth pairing we’ve come across.
Why we’d come back: If you’ve eaten at Gaggan—and if you’re even reading this then we guess you probably have—then you’ll find Mihara a far more sobering experience. No Kiss on full volume. No storytelling (or very little, at least). No new-school rock ‘n’ roll wine discourse. But just like Gaggan, Mihara still manages to be one of Bangkok’s boldest and most unique restaurants. A one-off, maybe, but a one-off who anyone wanting to experience Bangkok at the top of its food game needs to try. Oliver Irvine