Tucked beside Park Lane mall, just off Ekkamai Road, this standalone, wooden-floored izakaya does a good job of convincing you that you’re actually dining in Japan. Tokyo-born Teppen arrived in Bangkok in 2013—and on most nights you’ll find it packed out with Japanese expats looking for a taste of home.
Even before entering the slender wooden house, you’ll hear a resounding welcome (“irasshaimase!”) from the friendly, frantic staff as they spot you through the windows. Slip your shoes off and slide under one of the low-level tables, or prop up the long bar where things can get a bit hot and heavy watching the chefs at work at their various stations.
The menu is predictably lengthy with highlights like sashimi, Kyoto-style kushiage (deep-fried everything, basically) and robatayaki (charcoal barbecue) designed to be paired with an ice-cold Asahi (B160), ginger highball (B180) or full bottle of sake (from B1,500). We enjoy the katsuo warayaki (B430), a house specialty which sees fresh bonito fish seared over a traditional straw fire for a delicate, smoked flavor. In general, the raw/semi-raw fish won’t blow you away if you’re familiar with Bangkok’s new breed of fancy sushi specialists.
What you really want to eat are the barbecued meats and kushiage skewers, particularly such bacon-wrapped delights as the enoki buta (mushroom, B50/skewer) and uzura (quail’s eggs, B50/skewer). Our pick goes to the surprisingly light and airy, and not-too-oily, aspara buta (bacon-wrapped asparagus, B130)—perfect drinking food.
As for more substantial bites, the juicy tori ichiyaboshi (grilled chicken leg, B220), with its punchy ponzu dipping sauce, is a highlight. As is the murugai sakamushi (B180), which sees mussels simmered in a full-flavored sake and bonito fish broth. In comparison, the hokke aburi (grilled mackerel, B380/full, B200/half) comes across as under-seasoned and a bit dull.
Unusually, Teppen also has a decent dessert list spanning deep-fried Oreos (B130) to the delicious Pan Ice (B150)—little ice-cream sandwiches made with crispy baguettes. While it doesn’t have the kitsch value of say Imoya or Teriyaki Bar Kelly’s, down-to-earth Teppen offers one of the city’s most warm and soulful izakaya experiences.
Note: In lieu of service charge, you’ll be hit with a hidden B100 fee for “otoshi,
” a basic appetizer of vegetable sticks and peanut dipping sauce, as is common practice in Japan.
This review took place in May 2016 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.