First-rate sushi at the dizzying heights of metropolitan glamour
There’s nothing to alarm a sushi novice at Yamazato, but plenty to appreciate if you know something about the craft. This Michelin Plate winner is part of the glamorous The Okura Prestige and the hotel’s trio of Japanese dining options: Yamazato offering a sushi counter with elevated views of the city; while a teppanyaki station and elegant dining room can be found tucked away, towards the back of the 24th floor.
I’m offered a 6pm or 8pm reservation, deciding on 8pm, but am then told that only 6pm is available. So, at 6pm and seated at the counter, I scan two Omakase Sushi menus—B3,000 and B4,000—both consisting of seven courses with the pricier coming with added sashimi and sushi morsels.They have also recently launched a special Saturday menu, offering the omakase experience, plus free-flow soft drinks and alcohol, for B4,500.
Thankfully, there’s no trundling conveyor and deliveries from Tsukiji Market three times a week is proof that they’re not scrimping on quality. Presented on the counter, you can examine the specimens up close: a row of plumped-up, fatty fishes wrapped in clingfilm, waiting to be cut into slivers, then popped into my mouth.
The first two courses arrive from the kitchen, which is disappointing given my front row counter seat. An underwhelming starter of octopus, oyster and eringi mushrooms is followed by a colourful and elaborately presented salmon sashimi salad on ice. Starters differs from day-to-day, depending on the availability of ingredients, so perhaps you’ll have better luck than me?
The food up to this point is agreeable but I can’t help but notice a distinct lack of atmosphere. Our chef—Thai, not Japanese—is not charismatic enough to lift the evening; dicing, slicing and offering morsels of fish with a somewhat sombre temper. I know Japanese craftsmanship and the laws of swanky sushi is followed with silent dedication and an almost scholarly diligence, but I need some va-va-voom at dinner. I am the only guest at the counter and the ambience is flat.
Thankfully, sushi fills the void and there’s grilled Kanpachi (amberjack) marinated in Saikyo miso from Kyoto which ups the stakes and kicks my palate into gear. Then, tuna belly that’s stout and sweet, and ohhhh I want more of it; and tuna sushi brushed with yuzo to add a piquant sweetness that cuts through the fishy fat. Then, two silken shrimps like obese baby prawns, are soft and sufficient so that you don’t even have to bite down on them, you just place them in your mouth and they wash away like gourmet marshmallows.
And more follows, as I wash everything down with mugs of hot green tea. There’s fat slivers of seared eel with a dot of gel—a sharp blend of yuzo and Japanese pepper—followed by pink, plump salmon strips streaked with almost visible omega-3 fatty acids, on the pillowy opulence of shari rice. Both are pretty much flawless.
I add small dabs of freshly grated wasabi to dark and moody soy, and dip each tidbit of sushi before consuming. The quality and freshness is evident with each delicious mouthful. This really is spectacular stuff.
By David J. Constable
The Okura Prestige Bangkok, 57 Wireless Rd.
Open: Dinner, 6pm and 8pm seatings
Tel: 02 687 9000