New York's sushi master has moved to Bangkok and opened the most exciting Japanese restaurant in town.
While working at New York’s Jewel Bako, Japan-native Masato Shimizu became the youngest chef in NYC ever to win a Michelin star at just 29. After moving to Bangkok, he opened this omakase (chef’s selections) sushi restaurant in Jan 2016.
Serving just 20 diners a night in two sittings (5:30pm and 8:30pm), Sushi Masato incurred three-week waits upon opening—and it’s still no sure thing to snag a seat. Online reservations open up 28 days in advance and you’re advised to plan your meal that far ahead. For B4,000 per person you get roughly 20 courses of sashimi, nigiri (fish atop rice) and other pretty little creations which defy the simplicity of their ingredients (delivered daily from Tsukiji Market, naturally).
Hidden just off Sukhumvit Soi 31, this restaurant differentiates itself from mall- or hotel-dwelling competition like Ginza Sushi Ichi (Central Embassy) and Sushi Zo (Plaza Athenee) to summon the feel of a back-street Tokyo sushi-ya. There, from behind a beautiful L-shaped counter (made from Hinoki wood for that extra Zen touch), the chef and his sidekicks sculpt a meal that’s incredibly refined yet dispels the idea of omakase as an awkward, drawn-out affair. It helps that Masato is warm, conversational and informative—happily breaking out a book mid-meal to educate you on a single piece of fish.
In New York, Masato’s tricks for coaxing better texture and taste became the stuff of legend, whether it was shocking snapper in an ice bath or massaging octopus for no less than 20 minutes. In Bangkok, he’s just as meticulous, and he’ll happily explain, for example, why otoro (fatty tuna) aged for two weeks can result in just the right chewiness. Our meal opens with edamame, before moving onto a delicately plated monkfish liver (which lives up to its nickname, “foie gras of the sea”), hotaru-ika (a spring special of smoky, grilled firefly squid on a skewer) and a perfectly round Japanese tomato (grown in Petchabun in a rare nod to local produce) that’s been boiled, peeled and finished with fleur de sel.
That sets you up for a dozen or so different nigiri (otoro, unagi, shrimp, baby snapper, though it’s up Masato), where to pick highlights is to do a disservice. As ever, the level of showmanship is dazzling, from the precision knifework to the use of hot charcoal (taking the place of blowtorch). We also can’t get enough of the uni sushi, combining the creamier murazaki and stronger bafun varieties of sea urchin, or the spongy, cake-like tamago.
For dessert, a yuzu granita serves as palate-cleanser, followed by what resembles a Japanese panna cotta: smooth and milky tofu in black sugar syrup. With food so exquisite and service so friendly, the Sushi Masato experience totally exceeds its price tag.
This review took place in March 2017 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.
Watch what dinner looks like at Bangkok's most exclusive omakase restaurant: