Authentically “un”-traditional Japanese cuisine
With a “secret entry” door cleverly camouflaged as a stone wall, hand-painted walls, rooms with medieval castle-style stone walls, and an artisan-crafted Japanese-style sala dominating the floor space near the sushi bar, one might assume Katana Shabu & Japanase Dining restaurant is simply a showcase of impressive design—but it soon becomes clear that the innovative décor is only the start of the inspiring dining adventure to come.
Chef Tetsu Fukuda’s cooking style is not so much fusion as it is hitting the sweet-spot crossroads of Japanese and Western cuisine, harnessing the key elements of each premium imported ingredient to create dishes of distinctive personality and profound depth of flavour.
Case in point: Cream Cheese Fondue with Truffle—the starter of the ‘Kaiseki Ei Roku with Shabu-Shabu’ eight-course set menu (B3,500)—in which skewers of minced prawn with olive oil and sweet potato are dipped in a bowl of molten cheese and generously adorned a la minute with shavings from plump, fresh black truffles plated alongside.
The Amberjack Sashimi which followed was served with cream mustard and mint-like Perilla leaves. The light coloured flesh was delicate of flavour and firm of bite, exuding a Tokyo seafood-market level of freshness.
The East-meets-West vibe continued unabated with the Foie Gras & Truffle Chawan-Mushi. This savoury steamed (mushi) custard is presented in a small covered soup bowl (chawan), topped with a clear oyster sauce, puréed truffle, and foie gras. The rich textured custard comes alive on the palate with a satisfying earthy-smoky flavour.
The Fried Flatfish came slathered in a thick, clear sauce atop a wedge of fried radish, with mustard greens and citrusy-tart yuzu. This was followed by a jumbo Grilled Rock Oyster with fig and two-colour miso (baked in its original half-shell with a top layer of oven-browned mozzarella and buckwheat kernels).
The menu headliner was the Kuroge Wagyu Shabu featuring top-grade A5 beef with its distinctive marbling. Quick-fried in a clear broth along with lettuce, tofu, and mushrooms, the tissue-thin beef is served with sesame or yuzu sauce. The remaining broth—now deeply infused with combined essence of the Shabu ingredients—is pressed into double-duty as the cooking medium for the next course, resulting in an intensely flavourful base for the indescribably delectable Kishimen Udon Noodles.
Dessert comes calling with Vanilla Gelato and Peach Pudding, a light but supremely satisfying finish to a delightful, surprisingly eclectic meal.
Service is exceptional, guided as it is by the traditional principle of “omotenashi”—the act of anticipating one’s needs and desires—and indeed, wait staff are meticulously professional and thoroughly insightful. Those familiar with the Katana brand will note that this Soi 23 branch is somewhat less casual than the Thong Lor location, with more emphasis on food than bar offerings.
NOTE: The dishes sampled in this monthly-rotating Kaiseki menu are also part of the regular à la carte selection.
By Chris Michael
Katana Shabu & Japanese Dining
21/38 Sukhumvit Soi 23
Tel: 02 088 0706
Open daily: 5:30pm-10:30pm