Japanese food, unlike Thai cuisine, has largely resisted attempts to be updated, modernised or adapted. Perhaps it is because, at the heart of Japanese flavours, there is an elegance that would more easily be lost in that process. Whereas Thai flavours have a resilience that will survive a degree of reworking, the more delicate Japanese notes would not.
It is no wonder then that the most renowned Japanese restaurants in Bangkok hew toward the traditional. At these places, there is little desire to revise Japanese style; rather, there is a full-bodied embrace of the time-honoured approach to food. When well-executed, this nostalgia can be a welcome counterpoint to Bangkok’s neophile tendencies; when misjudged, it can make a place feel dated.
Genji has been around for more than 30 years and its dark wood furnishings are offset nicely by the flow of natural light from the Swissotel’s garden. A semi-open kitchen occupies pride of place at one end. Here, Genji’s chefs put the finishing touches on the dishes before service.
And presentation is crucial to Genji’s overall effect. The Inaniwa onsen tamago (B300) is a light broth with chilled Inaniwa Udon noddles, hard-boiled egg yolk and simmered mushrooms, served on ice in a handmade wooden box. This starter can also be served with a small plate of duck and foie gras, adding an extra dimension to the offset.
Another starter, the nasu ankake (B350) combines assorted seafood with a homemade sticky sauce on a bed of fried eggplant. The prawns are of top quality, evident from their vibrant colours and firm texture, and the soy-based sauce is well-executed. The eggplant, however, doesn’t quite hit the mark. In such instances, Genji could perhaps improve by choosing boldness over refinement.
Among the mains, the kodai nitsuke (B2000) is a braised baby bass in a sweet sauce mixed with vegetables and tofu. The price tag may raise some eyebrows but the presentation is impressive and the natural seafood flavour of the fish is expertly preserved.
Among the desserts, the homemade custard (B150) is a little plain, served without adornment or anything to deliver balance, epitomising Genji’s preference for authenticity over real deliciousness.
GF Swissotel Nai Lert Park, 2 Wireless Rd | 02-655-4265
genji-restaurant.com | 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm