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5 Bangkok sushi restaurants for 5 occasions
From power lunches to boozy nights out, there's a sushi spot to fit everyone's needs
Just like Bangkok's incredible selection of sushi restaurants, sushi cravings are not created equal.
Obviously, you want fresh fish and precise cuts, but the matter of where, when and with whom you want to sink into that maguro nigiri and salmon maki platter needs consideration, too.
Whether you’re dining alone, on a date or getting bombed with friends, there's a perfect Bangkok sushi spot to fit the occasion.
1. For drinking with friends: Imoya
Just around the corner from Emporium Mall, discreetly tucked away on the third floor of Terminal Shop Cabin, Imoya is a dark, smoky, Tokyo-style izakaya with cheap drinks and cheap sushi, the kind of place to hunker down with friends on a rainy night and drink yourselves into a fall-off-your-chair (or tatami mat) stupor while soaking it up with generously-sized tekka maki.
Imoya’s immediate appeal is found in its cinematic soundtrack and cozy, shadowy setting, with weathered wooden chairs and tables, moody lighting, faded vintage Japanese beer posters and salacious penis sculptures at the sushi bar.
Its more subtle charm can be found in the number of familiar faces repeat visits inevitably reveal.
Locals in the know put roots down, evident by the rows of numbered, half-drunk bottles of sake and Suntory whiskey, stacked three deep and 10 across behind the sushi bar, that hundreds of loyal regulars have saved for next time (and the time after that).
Affordability is another lure. Most two-piece nigiri sets are less than 100 baht, maki 50 – 60 baht, and heaping one-person moriwase platters just 250 baht.
There are more than 100 other cheap, non-sushi options, too. Mugs of draft beer are priced at 55 baht, and sake bottles start at 100 baht.
Terminal Cabin Shop, 3/F, 2/17-19 Sukhumvit Soi 24, +66 (0)2 663 5185/6. Open daily 5 p.m.–midnight.
2. For chilling out: Yaki Ten
With its dim lighting, black wooden booths and white stucco walls, the criminally underrated Yaki Ten has the classic look of a modern Japanese bistro.
Really, the space itself isn’t particularly unique, but subtle flourishes of character -- like when Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” kicked off a funky mix of classic soul on the soundsystem during one visit -- as well as an otherworldly spicy tuna roll make this a special place.
A laid-back vibe and friendly service make it easy to linger for hours over pitchers of Asahi (270 baht) and a bottle of sake or shochu from an extensive selection; the reliably excellent sushi does, too, from savory grilled eel (280 baht) and salmon (230 baht) rolls to a healthy plate of mixed fish negiri (330 baht).
The spicy tuna roll (270 baht), finely minced tuna mixed with minced green chiles, is the stuff sushi dreams are made of.
It’s one of the best rolls I’ve ever tasted anywhere.
Soi Langsuan between Soi 6 and 7. +66 (0)2 652 2527. Daily 5 p.m.–midnight, closed Sunday.
3. For a romantic date: In the Mood for Love
Inspired by the Wong Kar-wai film of the same name set in 1960s Hong Kong, In the Mood for Love exudes dreamy ambience, with plush floral-printed chairs and couches, low lighting, wooden birdcages hung from the lofty corrugated metal ceiling and a front-and-center sushi bar that has the chefs doubling as performers.
It’s a gorgeous space, but the 13 signature rolls, some whimsical and all well-executed, are what put this place on the map.
Standouts include the “Very Salmon," with seared strips of salmon wrapped around raw salmon, avocado, and RX sauce (340 baht); the rich “C4," featuring deep-fried barbecue eel, spicy salmon, and mozzarella (360 baht); and the “Sweet 16," an ambitious experiment with eel, avocado, spicy tuna and strawberries that actually succeeds (400 baht).
Reservations recommended on weekend nights.
9/9 Sukhumvit Soi 36, +66 (0)2 661 5076. Open Tuesday–Sunday, 5:30 p.m.–midnight; Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
4. For power business lunches: Zen Cucina
Executives in expensive suits and high-heeled, hi-so fashionistas make up the lunchtime clientele at this upmarket spin-off of the popular (and more affordable) Zen Japanese Restaurant chain.
Located on CentralWorld Plaza’s third floor, Zen Cucina offers melt-in-your-mouth fish in sleek minimalist surroundings, with cushy leather chairs and couches spilling out from the main dining area into the windowed walkway overlooking Rajadamri.
Pick and choose from an extensive -- and expensive -- menu that includes plenty of indulgence (kobe beef sushi and avocado wrapped in salmon) and creativity (baked sushi rolls covered with cheese).
“Salmon Mania Rolls," healthy strips of seared salmon atop salmon tempura drizzled in spicy sauce, are highly recommended.
4/1-4/2 CentralWorld Plaza, 3/F, Atrium Zone. +66 (0)2 613 1580-2. Open daily, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
5. Dining alone: Miyatake
It’s all about the fresh fish at Miyatake Sushi Bar, a small eight-stool counter indiscriminately stuck in the middle of Isetan’s fifth-floor Souzai Delicatessen.
Though its size and food court-like atmosphere make this no place to dwell very long, it’s arguably the top spot in the area for high-grade sushi and sashimi on the fly.
Tuna is the specialty: try “Akami Set A”, which includes kappa maki, sukimi maki and three pieces of akami negiri (300 baht). Salmon nigiri is soft and buttery (50 baht/piece). Takeaway sets are also available.
Isetan Department Store, 5/F, 4/1-4/2 CentralWorld Plaza, Rajdamri Road. +66 (0)2 255 9898. Open daily, 11a.m.–9p.m.