You know Kisso. Odds are you’ve been there. The Westin’s low-lit Japanese establishment is celebrating its twenty-first anniversary this year.
Twenty-one years of sushi, sashimi, and sake, two practically unheard-of decades in a city that’s so vulnerable to the caprices of taste and trends. Its success is testament to a readiness to adjust without surrendering the very aspects that have attracted a piebald parliament of locals, expats, and travellers over the years.
The décor leans largely on the traditional but is spritzed with the contemporary. Cream-coloured carpet leads to grey stone steps bordered by a false stream. At the end of the path is a wall of sake barrels, and behind it a space decorated in equal measures of mahogany leather and sakura motifs. Glass windows are made to resemble shoji. Partition screens divide private and open dining areas. This “old meets new” vibe flows into the cuisine.
At once authentic and daring, the menu is imbued with foreign accents by Chef Shinsuke Yonekawa, who uses ingredients that many Japanese chefs won’t touch, such as foie gras, which he pairs with a succulent balsamic- and teriyaki-glazed eel (B980). While his flair for innovation is laudable, his greatest triumphs inevitably return to his, and Kisso’s, roots.
In honour of the restaurant’s twenty-first, a riff on maturation, Yonekawa has crafted a menu of its all-time favourite dishes (B2100), available through December. It’s a montage of flavours, yet also emblematic of the restaurant’s remodelled identity. A trio of appetizers comes first: seaweed seasoned with flying fish roe; octopus, surf clam, and crab stick in vinegar; and addictive fried silverfish. A warm, aromatic broth on the side provides balance. Salmon sashimi rounds out the starters; it lines a bird’s nest of noodles and greens, showcasing Yonekawa’s precision (he’s licensed to prepare fugu).
The first main, grilled snowfish topped with wasabi sauce and prawn- and garlic-butter sauce, is immaculate. Served with a hot stone, raw Australian wagyu — which produces less smoke than Japanese breeds — lets diners interact with the meal before a rainbow of scallop, tuna belly, and yellowtail rolls arrives. It all ends with a toothsome dessert of plum jelly and matcha ice cream.
While the anniversary menu shines light on Kisso’s years of achievement, the bi-monthly seasonal menus are Yonekawa’s playground, and that is something worth celebrating. In July, uni was the centrepiece. In August and September, it might be lobster or wagyu. Time will tell.
Fl 8, The Westin Grande, 259 Sukhumvit 19 | 0 2207 8000 | kissojapaneserestaurant.com | daily 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm
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