Akonoya is Bangkok’s much-needed Japanese Restaurant.
Text & Photos By Paul Cypert
We love Japanese food. And for the past few years restaurants from the island nation have been flooding Bangkok’s sois. Sadly most miss the mark by a long shot. You can sense the failure before you even walk into the restaurant when you see soba noodles, yakitori, sushi, and other styles all features simultaneously on a menu. It’s our firm belief that you can’t master all Japanese styles in one shop.
Akonoya Robotayaki, a transport from Singapore, sits humbly on Sukhumvit 49 away from the glitzy shopping mall locales, and stands in stark contrast to the usual do-all delis. The restaurant looks both large and small simultaneously. The large outer front belies the humble two counters you’ll find inside. Each side of the shop features the day’s fresh produce selection and two chefs sit to the left and right facing the diners.
A Robotayaki is stunning in its simplicity – they’ll grill the ingredients, salt to bring out the best flavor, and in some rare instances maybe brush them lightly with oil. Here you’ll not get fusion favors, but rather the best ingredients cooked so as to maximize their natural flavors.
There’s no menu at Akonoya. You point at what you want to select and the chef’s will cook them as they see fit, or if you’re bold (or know your Japanese food well) you can make your own request. You can of course ask the waiters for pricing before ordering. We were told meals can run anywhere from Bt300 to Bt3,000 per person depending on the ingredients selected. After our meal we’d go so far as to say a 3K meal would still be relatively cheap for what you get.
Our meal consisted of a humble green salad with tomatoes and fish flakes with the slightest hint of yuzu dressing. Then came a grilled chicken with expertly poached egg followed quickly by a charred and salted Japanese pepper. Then came summer sweet corn (you know a restaurant is good when something as unassuming as grilled corn is something you can’t stand to miss). For our main we enjoyed a complicated looking fish who’s name I’ve yet to run across (a fish so tasty we completely optioned out of using the supplied sauce, the flesh was all we needed). We danced back and forth between all the dishes, never able to decide which we preferred. The meal ended abruptly with a ripe melon that lingered in our mouths for hours after exiting.
Though the restaurant might sound precious from this brief review, it’s anything but. Orders are shouted out through the restaurant and there’s a general energy that makes it feel more Izakaya than Kaiseki (always a good thing in my book). With some sake or mixed drinks I could see a very lively evening ensuing. I’m sad I don’t have more space to write about it, but will say if you want Japanese that has real flavor, taste, with a sense of enjoyment to it, visit Akonoya at your soonest convenience. Take some friends, enjoy some drinks, and try as much as you can. And trust the chefs to take your ingredients to places you wouldn’t think possible with such simple preparations.
Soi Sukumvit 49, Klongton-Nua,