Napa on 26 has developed a reputation as a tricky place to find and it certainly pays to know where you’re going – otherwise you risk totally overlooking this place, one out among a swathe of lit-up Japanese restaurants. Inside, Napa on 26 makes a brilliant first impression: low-lit with a soothing soundtrack and a crispness that foreshadows high standards without over-the-top formality.
The concept is Californian cuisine and, if there’s a criticism of Napa on 26, it’s that it doesn’t quite convey what that means. Certainly, there are some top-notch wine selections from that part of the world but the food could generally be categorised as modern European or international – it’s not that sorting food into genres is the point of dining out but concepts only carry their own weight if restaurants commit to them.
Still, it’s unlikely to bother most diners, for whom the taste is what truly matters. And the appetisers get the ball rolling in style, the Hamachi ceviche (B670), with pomelo, alfalfa sprouts and and wasabi sherbet striking that perfect balance between lightness and flavour. Equally, the Hokkaido scallops (B990) are a richer option, coming with foie gras, red prunes and a vanilla-anis emulsion.
Napa on 26 sets the bar high for itself with its prices – it also makes ordering a high-stakes affair. If you choose well, the food is absolutely worth the price tag but a misstep may leave you disappointed. For example, among the soups, the black and white truffle duck cream with thai spices and goose liver (B600) is a show-stopper, while the sweet corn with parma ham and chorizo (B350) is slightly bland by comparison. The angel hair pasta with prawn, scallop, garlic and lobster oil (B420) also lacks complexity and is a prime example of Californian cuisine feeling a little indistinct.
The whole experience is elevated by the main courses, though, the grain-fed beef tenderloin (B1600; above) comes bathed in red wine sauce with onion puree and spinach. It’s
a gorgeous dish, the sauce working wonders alongside the prime cut. The rack of lamb (B1600), with gremolata, eggplant caviar and butternut, is also a triumph, a reminder that Napa on 26’s peaks are truly impressive, even if those heights are hard to maintain throughout.
Napa on 26
2F Nihonmachi, 115 Sukhumvit Soi 26 | 02-258-2622
napaon26.com| Tues-Sat 6pm-10pm, Sun 11.30am-10pm