The reserved signs on several tables are a telling indication of how popular Yasuda, a Japanese restaurant focusing on flavors and fusion, is fast becoming
by Christopher Scott Dixon
Want to escape from the sweltering summer heat and enjoy some high quality cuisine? Yasuda (74 Sukhumvit Soi 34; Tel: 02 258 2530) is a perfect sanctuary to relax and leave the broiling, bustling Bangkok behind for a few hours. Not far from the BTS Thonglor station, it is only a short taxi ride to get to the two-storey converted house that is set in a spacious garden with lawns and trees. There is also a shuttle service to take guests back to Sukhumvit Road.
Yasuda-which is the family name of the owner and his son, the managing director (MD)- opened late last year, the first branch in Thailand. As the customer base grows and the business continues to flourish, there are plans to open more outlets in the country. The reserved signs on several tables are already a telling indication of how popular Yasuda is becoming.
The exterior of the building is small, shuttered windows, and wooden balconies topped by dark corrugated tiled roofs. One side is a glass-fronted interior dining area and there is also a small terrace for alfresco eating. Upon entering, you are instantly transported from modern metropolitan Bangkok into an interior in traditional Japanese style: wood beam ceilings, a central staircase, and three distinct seating zones, one with low couches where you remove your shoes and clamber in to sit; another with more conventional chairs and tables; and upstairs, rooms for larger groups although there are also smaller more intimate private spaces for couples.
The menu is extensive with noodle dishes, curry, seafood, a mix of Thai favorites and also a wide range of beverages that includes wines, cocktails, Japanese spirits, and a broad selection of soft drinks and tempting smoothies. Beef, however, is the focus with a number of different and all appetizing steak sets. Tetsuhide Yasuda, the MD who is only 35 but looks even younger, speaks with evident passion for the favored meat.
Tetsuhide talks lovingly of how even the wrong slicing of the beef can change the flavor and compares the gentle cutting of the meat to how a woman should be cared for with tenderness and devotion.
The aim is to provide diners in Bangkok with the finest Kobe beef at very competitive prices, to give Japanese nationals a tangible reminder of their home cuisine, and to educate locals as to the real taste of top quality beef.
It is anticipated that most of the guests at the restaurant will be Japanese and native Thais. The location was chosen for its tranquility so that patrons can detach themselves from the surrounding pressures of urban life.
The sweet sounds of jazz music in a relaxing environment had already seduced me, and feeling thirsty, I quaffed a feisty Shochu-Kuro Kirishima, a Japanese spirit. A flavorsome and signature beef soup arrived at the table, packed with generous chunks of the meat.
A premium cold sirloin steak set was up next, a beautiful presentation with peppers asparagus, mixed veg, finely shredded onion, and Oba, a Japanese green leaf. The steak itself was in cute bite-size portions, tender and juicy, and oh-so-moreish. Tetsuhide was a very hands-on host advising me to try the meat without a sauce, then with the sauce, and finally adding a squeeze of lemon. I preferred the latter.
Incidentally, all the food comes served on attractive plates imported from Japan, and many are available to purchase from a display table in the reception area and the variety of sauces are home made.
Continuing the emphasis on high quality, a premium beef and sashimi set was showcased for me: Prime, Choice, and Premium Kalbi Beef. Again it was exhibited delightfully with mixed vegetables as neighbors to the perfectly formed and tempting pieces, which almost leaped off the plate. Easy on the eyes, I devoured them quickly. Tetsuhide was again most helpful in giving suggestions as to how best to enjoy the flavor of the meat by trying the different sauces.
The sashimi was equally delicious and a nice touch of the romantic as it came shaped like the petals of an English rose. It looked almost too pretty to eat, well almost, but I wasn’t going to miss out on this dish.
As more customers entered, I finished my drink and sat bolt upright with a smile as a colorful and decorative ice cream dessert of chocolate Oreo parfait was presented. My mobile phone camera was used to capture this most Instagram-worthy creation. And believe me, it was every bit as good as it looked, a sweet sensation.
Yasuda: a memorable setting, with a comprehensive menu and dedication to quality and taste!