The buzz: The team behind the donburi (rice with toppings) chain Chounan have collaborated with a logistics firm who supposedly have links to the Japanese imperial family to open a premium yakiniku restaurant. The star attraction? The so-called imperial wagyu.
The décor: The sizeable dining room is, like so many Japanese restaurants, dominated by wood. There’s lots of space between tables, so you won’t get too much of other people’s smoke in your hair, while wooden partitions offer more privacy. They also have three standalone rooms that can accommodate groups of up to 10 people without extra charge.
The food: Sumi Tei serves a wide range of meats, from local Thai-French beef to melt-in-your-mouth A5-grade wagyu. To assure you that everything’s legit. They provide along with your wagyu a certificate stating your beef’s identification number and the name of the farm it came from. There are three categories in the menu—premium (starting at B240), super premium (starting at B360) and imperial (starting at B860)—with popular cuts like karubi, sirloin, zabuton and some entrails. To try various cuts, opt for one of the sets (starting at B980). Tasting portions for the imperial wagyu (starting at B680) also represent fairly good value for money. At a more lofty B1,980, the imperial wagyu karubi is beautifully marbled, heavenly tender and well matched with their special-recipe sauce. All pork and chicken are sourced locally, while seafood is a mixture of imported and local produce. The restaurant also serves some Korean-style rice dishes, Japanese ramen, salads, soups and desserts.
The drinks: Their small bar comprises sake starting at B380 per glass, with sparkling sake going for B980 per 300ml bottle. Draft Asahi starts at B120. They also have wheat (starting B140/glass), sweet potato (starting B160/glass) and shiso shochu (B1,880/bottle), plus Japanese whiskey at (B110/glass). Wines start at B1,280 a bottle, and umeshu (plum wine) at B1,380/bottle.
The crowd: Japanese expats on an after-work binge, and groups of tabletop barbecue enthusiasts.