Monday, June 25, 2007
Izakaya Torajiro 寅次郎
Until it opens a branch at Central World Plaza, Torajiro was one of Bangkok’s best kept gourmet secret. I still prefer its hide-away main branch in Thonglo Nihonmaru (Japanese Village). The night I revisited the restaurant was 6:30pm on a weekday, packed with Japanese salarymen giving me an impression of eating-after-work in Tokyo. Reasons Torajiro attract such a numerous of Japanese expats not only because the fare is authentic and the dining room is filled with romantic Japanese atmosphere, but also the price is easy.
Its assorted sushi rice bowl is the best shot in Bangkok if not in the world, for Baht 390 ($12) we got assorted ultra fresh slices of raw fish, sweet shrimp and salmon roe topped on rice, with expensive uni (sea urchin roe). Therefore, each of us ordered a bowl of Kaisen Chirashi Sushi (assorted sushi rice bowl) to start the dinner.
As an izakaya (drinking restaurant), Torajiro offers wide choices of sake (清酒 , a brewed (un-distilled) Japanese rice wine) as well as shochu (焼酎 , a distilled alcoholic beverage from barley, sweet potato, or rice); and yakitori.
Yakitori (barbecued chicken meat on skewers) is one of the specialties in Torajiro, goes best with Sake, so we had both. We also ordered Takuwan (pickled radish), Mozukusu (seaweed vinaigrette), and Omusubi Mentaiko (rice balls) together with other homely dishes such as Okonomi Yaki (pan-grilled Japanese batter pizza), Yaki Mochi (grilled stick rice rolls), and Atsuage Yaki (deep-fried tofu); forming a good combination to drinking-sake eating-yakitori.
One more specialty in Torajiro is the tempura, a dish using of only fresh ingredients, precision cooking and artful presentation, one of the triumphs of Japanese cooking. This deep-fried delicacy is a popular street food evolved to a completely Japanese cuisine all over Japan, but not with an accent of Japan. Tempura was introduced to Japan by the visiting Portuguese missionaries of the sixteenth century. Today peixinhos da horta is a dish similar to tempura in Portugal. Like many imported ideas, such as ramen from China, gradually adapted itself to Japanese tastes and specialties. We ordered the Tempura Mori (assorted deep-fried battered prawn, fish and vegetables) to add some more pleasure to our dinner. In Torajiro, they were light and fresh rather than heavy and greasy. We owed the chef to eat them while hot, dipped the fritters quickly in the dipping sauce with grated radish (not entirely soaked them in the sauce). For me, I even eat them naked without dipping sauce to yield the maximum benefit from the freshness of the ingredients. Tempura shall be a must order in Torajiro.
Desserts in a Japanese meal are always boring. At Torajiro, we had the Macha Ice Cream (green tea ice cream) and Koori-Azuki (red bean paste atop shaved ice). Better than none.
Our Ratings (1 to 5 the higher the better): Torajiro has [4.1]
(Ratings are based on Food, Service and Ambience, with Price taken into account in relation to Quality) Food=4.5, Service=4, Ambiance=3.5, Money Worth=4.5
Price range for two without drinks (incl. local water) in Thai Baht = BBBB
(B=below 200, BB=201-500, BBB=501-1,000, BBBB=1,001-2,000, BBBBB=over 2,000)
Details: Open daily 5:30pm – 12:00am
Izakaya Torajiro Japanese Restaurant, 87 Thonglo 13, Sukhumvit 55 Road, Bangkok 10110; Tel.: 02-3814100, 02-3822237 http://www.torajiro.net (also a branch on Sukhumvit Soi 26)