Needless to say, as you might have already known, Bangkok is packed with all kinds of Japanese restaurants. In fact, since Japan has been exempting tourist visa for Thais, the country has instantly become our most popular tourist destination. Coupled with the myriad numbers of Japanese restaurants available in Thailand, it seems, at least for me, there’s almost nothing left to say about the country and its food.
But no matter. Connoisseurs always look for the best in everything. In Thailand, although we have so many kinds of Japanese restaurants, so much that it has become very hard to differentiate one from the other, we still crave for the real beautiful works of authentic masters. And here, perhaps, I am bringing you one of the best Japanese meals you can ever have in Bangkok. This beautiful Kaiseki meal – the special multi-course meal, the haute-cuisine of Japan – is available for dinner at Yamazato at the Okura Prestige Hotel in Ploenchit area.
Kaiseki is always a special meal. First, it is expensive and some must even be ordered in advance to allow the chef enough time to intricately prepare it. This multi-course meal always reflects the chef’s mastery in Japanese cooking which involves the arts of cutting, slicing, decorating, subtly flavouring and strategically presenting. It is like the big brother of all Japanase cuisine. When I do Japanese lunch, if time allows, I usually order a beautiful bento selection. Although unlike Kaiseki that comes in series, the one-box bento is always packed with the beautiful Japanese-style culinary arts that I always take my time to admire. But bento, although as delightful as they always are, pales in comparison to the exquisiteness of a good Kaiseki meal.
Yamazato takes their Kaiseki meals pretty seriously. All meals here in Bangkok are prepared by the master chef who has been with the Okura Hotel in Japan for more than 30 years. This master is sent to station at Yamazato Bangkok to make sure that every dish served here is identical, in tastes and forms, to those in Japan. And Kaiseki, available only for dinner, is intricate and delicious and serves as a very special meal whenever you feel like a little celebration.
The whole thing you see here is their signature Yamazato Kaiseki (at Bt4,500 ++ per person). And it starts with a tray of appetizers – with sashimi of tuna belly, sakura seabream and surf clams cuts that beautifully contrast in colours and shapes, the cold cuts of smoked duck breasts, mussels, shitake mushrooms ladled with the rich and aromatic sea urchin sauce. There’s also a bowl of warm and rich miso soup with scallop dumpling, shimeki mushroom, green vegetable and a dash of citrus that aromatically uplifts the mood of the whole broth.
Yamazato has eight selections of Kaiseki – ranging from Bt2,800 ++ up to 5,500 ++, 6,000++ and 7,500++. The priciest one – the Omakase – needs to be ordered at least 72 hours in advance.
But no matter which Kaiseki you choose, the meal is always served in sequences. After the appertizers, it is the time for the grilled dish. In this case it is a fillet of Cutlassfish with butterbur miso, decorated with big, carefully placed dots of broad beans, lime-simmered sweet potato, and vinegar-pickled turnips and a straight line of toasted pine nuts. 😀
Everything is so beautiful to look at.
I would say that Kaiseki should be reserved for a special meal. After all, its prices indicate so. Story has it that Japanese people take pride in hosting such a gorgeous meal for their clients. This is a sight of a success story if you are a businessman, to be able to afford to host such a extravagant meal. Also, the portion of each meal is more than adequate. I was not prepared, I had quite a lunch earlier. And I felt filled at the first three bowls.
But then, there’re more food. The beautifully simmered yellowtail fillet sits on the tender pillow of Japanese radish. With a sharp hint of ginger, this cottony fish melts in the mouth along with the crunchiness from the accompanied vegetables – carrot and green beans (my fav).
Kaiseki is also a social meal. Time between dishes allows for lengthy and tasty conversation. And you can’t help stopping on your track and admiring the crafty works the chef put into each. I love the experience and I hope we will have more special occasions to celebrate with these lovely things.
Like many other Japanese meals, Kaiseki, after the main dish of grilled Japanese beef, finishes off with warm and soothing bowl of rice soup. The gorgeously stewed rice is tender and comforting and aromatic with the pulled crab meats. Such a simple and perfect combination. The tastes are clean like any other Japanese dishes, even with their homemade pickles known as the naturally tasty sources for anti-aging collagen and anti-oxidants. And I do need a whole lot of those after such a huge meal. 😀
But then, there’s this tray of gorgeous desserts. Spring is on the way and Sakura are blooming. The creamy Sakura pudding is sweet and sour, punctuated with a little saltiness from the preserved flower. The red beans on top, along with the egg yolk cream, are gorgeously creamy and rich.
And look at these colourful fruits. Fresh, juicy and beautiful. And totally uplifting. The orange is also packed with jelly that lends a hint of citrus bitter. Such a lovely meal for a lovely occasion.
Yamazato, 24th Floor of the Okura Prestige Bangkok, Park Ventures Ecoplex, BTS: Ploenchit Station, T: 02-687-9000. Daily: 11.30 – 14.30, 18.00 – 22.30. They also have good selections of set lunch (from Bt600++), a la carte and sushi and sashimi selections.