Brought to Bangkok by the S&P group, Japanese chain Umenohana specializes in Kyoto kaiseki (traditional Japanese set menu dinners). The bamboo-heavy space delivers the full Japanese look—tatami mats, rice paper walls, a decorative stone garden—but not quite the experience.
A large a la carte menu supplements the kaiseki sets (which range from B1,250-B3,950). The first section is dedicated to housemade tofu in many forms, including the hiyashi tofu (fresh cold tofu, B240)—three soft, chilled chunks with bonito flakes, ginger, spring onion and soy sauce on the side—and hot tofu skins (B320). Pay B130 extra to have them formed freshly at your table from a pan of soy milk. Whichever way you choose, the results are refined and well-cooked, if lacking the satisfying freshness you get at Mitsumori or Sustaina. When ordered with the pork sauce, dubbed donabe mabo tofu (B320), it’s tasty, albeit not quite a match for the flavors of a Sichuan mapo tofu from which it seems to take influence.
Taraba (king) and zuwai (snow) crabs are available as sushi, sashimi, shabu, tempura, baked with cheese and with rice. Though the king crab chirashi sushi (sushi rice bowl, B850) has well-seasoned rice and is packed with moist, cracked steamed crab, the results are rather bland. Save your cash and go with the unagi seiro (steamed eel rice bowl, B360) which, though on the small side, is packed with tasty soy sauce-seasoned rice and topped with firm and flavorful eel.
Despite first impressions, it feels like this local chain has lost its kaiseki soul somewhere along the franchising line. Servers are often out of earshot, while on our last visit, they delivered all our dishes at once rather than in order. Given the prices, we can think of plenty more solid kaiseki contenders, even in the Thonglor area alone. Corkage B500
This review took place in May 2017 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.