Rough day? Tough work? House burnt down? There’s nothing a night out with your friends at an izakaya in Bangkok can’t fix.
For those unfamiliar—an izakaya is categorised as a chill, laidback Japanese bar with food, snacks, and a variety of drinks for people to enjoy, especially after work. You can find your usual sashimi, grilled meat and vegetables, as well as regional delicacies here. Some places even offer hotpots to share with your colleagues.
If that gets your attention, Bangkok is full of wonderful izakayas you simply can’t miss. So check out our list, post it in your Line groups, and mark your calendars for your next evening out.
[Hero and Featured Image Credit: Kris Sevinc/Unsplash]
10 izakayas in Bangkok you must not miss
Jump To / Table of Contents
One of the most popular izakaya chains of Okinawa has expanded to open its first (and only, so far) branch in Thailand. Roughly translating to “sharp eyes for picking out ingredients,” they sure deliver on the name. The menu is very extensive, with a large selection of shabu-shabu, sashimi, and rice dishes. You can also pair your dishes with one of their flavoured beers, from cola beer to calpis beer.
Our tip: Interestingly, this place offers each Japanese prefecture’s signature dishes. Try the Toro Toro Buta Kakuni, a traditional Okinawan dish made of pork belly braised in dashi, mirin, and soy sauce.
As you enter Hanakaruta, the bar will be one of the first things you notice. Behind the bar is a two-storey-high shelf filled with the most incredible sakes and other alcohols—that’s how you know they’re not playing around. As you try one of their drinks, you can have the staff recommend you one of their curated dishes to go along. Their menu includes beautiful snacks and sushi which are undoubtedly perfect to share with friends.
Out tip: If you’re a big sake fan, they offer take sakes, a strong, aromatic sake served in a bamboo shoot. Only three are available per day, and they go great with spicy tuna rolls.
Kenshin is a great choice if you’re looking for a place to catch up with friends over drinks. Their menu is full of rice dishes and gorgeous snacks that are surprisingly affordable. They offer the Japanese partygoers’ favourites, such as Okinawa seaweed, tamago, and a wide range of grilled delicacies. Pair them with your favourite Japanese alcohols, from beer to umeshu and sake.
Our tip: If you love beer, they offer a range of glass sizes as you order. The smallest one is a ⅓ litre, then it goes up to half a litre, and so on. The biggest one is named the “sumo” size, and we honestly don’t know how large it is as no one we know has yet dared order it.
It’s one of the more well-known izakaya chains in Bangkok for a reason. Shakariki 432 has a drinks menu that is very extensive, so whatever alcohol you normally go for (or you’re up to discover something new), this place has it. If you like highballs, they also offer a variety of flavoured highballs, and the best part is that they don’t skimp out on the whiskey. If you can still feel your face, the food menu is full of bar favourites from Osaka prefecture, such as takoyakis, okonomiyaki, and yakisobas.
Out tip: If you come with a group of friends, be sure to try one of their hotpots. It tastes great, goes surprisingly well with drinks, and it keeps you from going too fast on the alcohol. Also, cola highballs.
Kenji’s Lab describes itself as a “cosy bistro,” and understandably so. The relaxing vibes and the wonderful delicacies at this place will make you miss your time in Japan even if you’ve never been there. Their menu is not exclusively Japanese, but rather a multinational blend of dishes that go along with drinks. Thereby, it’s great if you’re here for your usual snacks, but also perfect if you’re up for some premium ingredients you wouldn’t normally find in an izakaya, such as beef tongue, oyster, and tenderloin.
Our tip: The food here is honestly great and created with care, so don’t be afraid to try out new things. Begin your evening with some edamame beans and Sapporo beer—suddenly, you’re in Hokkaido.
If you’ve seen a Japanese film with a scene in an izakaya—characters entering a bar as they duck through the piece of fabric with the restaurant name, people hanging out after a long day of work ordering one more beer after another—Imoya’s the closest place in Bangkok it can get. Sit and order one of their beers, highballs, or other drinks you enjoy, as their prices are very reasonable. Pair them with fresh sashimi and other snacks. It’s very clear why this place is a local favourite.
Our tip: The perfect combination as you catch up with friends is beer and tako wasabi. If you don’t like beer, their highballs are not bad at all either.
Speaking of Japanese vibes, Ma-Ke Inu is a small, homey bar where you can feel the love put into the place. The walls and shelves are adorned with the owners’ personal collections of traditional Japanese toys, vinyl records, figurines, movie posters, and so on. The menu is filled with homemade popular dishes, such as donburis, tamago, and yakisoba. It’s one of the hidden gems of Chatuchak that you do not want to miss.
Our tip: The drinks menu may not be as elaborate as other izakayas, but they offer happy hours and discounts on alcoholic drinks very often. So if you’re looking for somewhere with good vibes to drink with friends, this place is for you.
Ki Izakaya is the perfect blend of the traditional Japanese vibes and the newer, more contemporary atmosphere of modern bars. Located on the ninth floor of the Sindhorn Kempinski, the place provides a wide variety of draft beers, highballs, sakes, and umeshu. Resident Chef Hiroyuki is also very happy to whip you delicacies to go with your drink of choice. It’s undoubtedly more upscale than your usual izakaya, but the price is surprisingly reasonable.
Our tip: Their yakitori is served on a beautiful charcoal brazier which would be perfect for an Instagram story. And if you’re feeling adventurous, their Ume-Cha is made of umeshu, as well as peach blossom tea and rose lemonade.
A modern American twist on your usual izakaya, Jua specialises in yakitori and cocktails—which is hands-down one of the most agreeable combinations we’ve ever explored. The bar is decorated with a minimalist interior, with the photography of Jason Lang adorning the walls, and the menu is filled with delicious skewers, as well as Japanese-inspired cocktails.
Our tip: Try the shochu negroni. It’s an immaculate combination of kome shochu, a Japanese distilled liquor, and the classic negroni. As Hannah Montana says, it’s the best of both worlds.
Katsushin is famous for their, well, katsu. More specifically, their tonkatsu is regarded as one of the best in Bangkok. Every set is served with white sesame, your choice of rice, and miso soup. If you don’t eat pork, they deep fry just about anything, so don’t be afraid to tag your friends along. There’s a couple of branches scattered throughout the city, but it’s usually packed during rush hours.
Our tip: Don’t think. Go straight for the tonkatsu.