Pricy omakase dinners balanced out by a pared-back a la carte menu of sushi, sashimi, grilled and fried dishes.
Bangkok is filled almost to bursting with Japanese restaurants, but many Nippon expats bemoan the lack of truly authentic sushi-ya, due to what they see are inferior-quality rice and sushi vinegar in Thailand. One restaurant that passes the test, however, is this unassuming spot tucked into the basement of Jasmine Tower which pulls in the nearby salayman lunch crowd. Take up a seat at the sushi bar to watch the chefs work their magic.
Sakuragawa aims high. At B3,000-5,500, its omakase dinners are in the same league as Bangkok’s sushi heavyweights Sushi Hinata, Ginza Sushi Ichi and Masato. Here though you can also rein things in a bit thanks to a pared-back a la carte menu of sushi, sashimi, grilled and fried dishes, and appetizers. Do your ordering from these sections and you won’t get niceties like fresh hon wasabi from Shizuoka Prefecture or piece-by-piece counter service, but you will get to sample some of the most delicately made, fresh-tasting nigiri Bangkok has to offer.
The 10-piece Okimari Nigiri set, for example, costs B1,500 and features one piece each of gizzard shad, cuttlefish, tuna, medium-fatty tuna, sweet shrimp, scallop, eel and omelet alongside tuna maki and a salmon roe roll, all of which can also be ordered a la carte (cuttlefish is the cheapest at B185, fatty tuna the most expensive at B300). The freshness of the fish is superb throughout. Both pieces of tuna brim with a metallic intensity, while the shellfish pieces—scallop, cuttlefish and shrimp—have that perfect sweetness and mouth-coating, soft texture.
The cooked dishes are handled with an equal competence, from the beautifully light and well-salted squids’ leg karaage (B190) to the real miso soup (B100/tofu, B140/clam).
It feels like a different level from the similarly priced Sushi Masa or Sushi Mori, not just thanks to the wonderful fish, but also the more traditional atmosphere. Some could accuse the dining space of being a touch bland, but with the chefs up front slicing and shaping in front of two perfectly kept mise en place, it has a reverence for the art which most Bangkok sushi restaurants lack.
That’s not to say it’s right up there with the top-tier sushi players—the nori has neither the intense flavor of the sea nor crisp texture of the best we’ve tasted, while the omelet too is a rather lifeless affair—but it does come close. On the strength of its a la carte and set-menu sushi, this is one place most definitely worth your time. But if you’re looking for an omakase meal to remember, we say book a seat at Ichi instead.
This review took place in April 2016 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.
|Address:||Sakuragawa Sushi, B1/F, Jasmine, Sukhumvit Soi 23, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Price Range:||BBB - BBBB|
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sun 11:30am-3pm, 5:30-10pm|
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