There’s no shortage of izakaya in Bangkok, but a new one is always cause for at least a little celebration. Nestled down a peaceful part of Saladaeng Soi 1, Touka resembles a Japanese house hidden in a bamboo garden. (Don’t mistake it for nearby Bitterman which also sits in a nice glasshouse facing the road.)
Specializing in yakitori (grilled skewers), the restaurant offers a range of meat from basic chicken thigh (B70) to wagyu (B180, grade A3). Not long after ordering, a complimentary appetizer is served—on our last visit, tamago (Japanese rolled egg) with a slice of okra and arare (fried droplets of batter).
The kushi yaki set (B600) represents a fair deal for six assorted skewers, all of which we find enjoyable if not spectacular. The chicken liver (B70) and gizzard (B70) are well-cooked, combining a juicy texture with crispy chewiness, yet the gizzard is a bit salty for our tastes. The A3 wagyu with wasabi lemon is tender and goes well with the petite amount of wasabi on top. The negima (chicken thigh with Welsh onion, B70), however, is a little on the bland side. Much better is the perfect combination of meat and vegetables in the crispy morning glory wrapped in pork belly (B80)—deliciously crunchy—and the cherry tomatoes wrapped in bacon (B80).
The chicken meatball, a yakitori staple, is a real contender, too—great texture and seasoning. Aside from the skewers, there’s also a short list of other dishes including salads, various deep-fried meats and veggies, rice and nabe (Japanese hot pot). While the hakata mizutaki nabe (B500) is nothing amazing, it comes with a comforting amount of veggies, lightly marinated chicken and warm soup.
As Touka is an izakaya, you can also expect plenty of beer, sake, wine, plum wine (which are all available by the glass) and cocktails. The saki sake cocktail (B180) is a bit of a letdown; simply too dense and overwhelmed by grenadine syrup so you barely taste the sake.
While not everything is to our tastes, we really like the atmosphere. There was only a thin crowd at the restaurant on our last visit, but we think Touka’s spacious dining area and easy-listening soundtrack do provide for a relaxing retreat if not an amazing meal.
This review took place in May 2015 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.