By Dave Stamboulis
While you might want to shake your head at yet another new Japanese restaurant in Bangkok, hang around a bit. Go check out O’zake first. The new sashimi and Japanese alcohol establishment on Thonglor is a brainchild of Chavayos Rattakul, the restaurateur who already runs the outstanding Tenyuu Grand in Sathorn. His new venture is not only a top spot to eat fresh fish flown in from the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, but much more. O´zake sets itself apart from the other hundreds of Japanese restaurants by having a young and hip vibe, and serving up some outstanding cocktails and other drinks made from a range of Japanese liquors from sake to umeshu plum wine, and various infused whiskeys.
The four-storey restaurant has various niches to eat and drink in. You can watch the master chefs whip up their creations in an open sushi bar, or you can lounge in a casual downstairs area with intimate tables and a relaxed vibe (think of a sake and cocktail bar with tapas). There is a grass carpeted rooftop area, and even a karaoke room for those who want to belt out a few tunes after several drinks. Additionally, there is a DJ who spins tunes from Thursday to Sunday.
The food here is immaculately prepared and of extremely high quality. The Blowtorched Matsuzaka Beef, wrapped around fresh sashimi is absolutely divine, as is The Toro Set, which features the best cuts of tuna both in aburi and pure sashimi style. There are plenty of innovative dishes to choose from, such as the signature dish The Salmon Box, which combines salmon and ikura roe, spread on top of crispy negi tempura and nori seaweed. The Wagyu Beef with Ponzu Sauce and Engawa, along with some outstanding rolls like The Combo of Maguro, Foie Gras, Spicy Miso, and Avocado.
It might be tall order to outclass these types of nibbles with drinks, but O’zake succeeds on all fronts. There are dozens of varieties of thirst quenching umeshu plum wines, and plenty of signature cocktails like the Yuzu Highball (yuzu and Japanese whiskey), Blushing Geisha (Gekkeikan Nigori sake and green tea), or the wild Kyoto Sour (sake with Tabasco, lemon juice, grapefruit, and agave nectar). For purists, there are literally hundreds of bottles of sake to choose from, all the best brands come well represented. If you want to spoil yourself rotten, you can even partake of an 18-year-old Hakushu single malt whisky, which is deeply aromatic, and very fruity. But watch out for its peculiarly strong powers, as it might put a hole in your wallet.
With its excellent drinks and chilled atmosphere, O’zake competes with nearby hangouts such as Badmotel or Water Library for the young and chic of Thonglor. Even if the sushi and other dishes at O’zake can certainly hold their own against other Thonglor sashimi stalwarts, it is the intimate ambience and the dizzying range of drinks that completes the sushi-excellence here. So drink slowly and enjoy the lovely ambience for longer. Hundreds of sake barrels and bottles adorn the walls, and will keep reminding you why you really should be here, not next door.
O’zake 331/2-3 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor, between sois 15-17)