There’s a boatload of omakase Japanese restaurants in Bangkok, but if you ask us, the one that shines bright among others now is Shun by Yanagiya, a chef’s choice sumiyaki (charcoal-grilled) restaurant nestled within the third floor of Donki Mall, Thonglor.
The Bangkok-flagship of the two-Michelin-starred Yanagiya in Gifu (in business since 1946), churns out a tasting menu featuring their famed range of charcoal-grilled food. With a dimly-lit theatrical setting decked with charcoal-like light above a small kitchen surrounded by 15 seats, your mind will be tricked into thinking you’re dining inside a surreal irori, a Japanese-style fireplace built for cooking food.
Highlighting Japan’s seasonal ingredients throughout the four seasons as well as premium locally-sourced ingredients, the tasting menu here alters year-round. This time around we cosied up under the barbecue machine-like light with a 17-course menu.
Our meal commenced with Maguro Cornet, an otoro tartare-filled nori cone laced with wasabi cream and bejewelled dazzlingly with a dollop of caviar; a delicate start to warm up your palate. We then swooned over a humble dressed salad and Ocean Trout before moving on to Carabinero, arguably the world’s most artful prawn, known for its red-purple hues mimicking that of a galaxy. Shun simply brightens it up with salt and lemon to bring out the clean taste of the crustacean.
Scattered throughout the menu are different parts of chicken: Kata (chicken shoulder), Kashiwa (chicken thigh), and Tebasaki (chicken middle wing). But out of all the three poultry parts, Tebasaki, which boasted the perfect skin-to-meat ratio, was particularly the one that pleased our tummies – and taste buds – the most. This was made even moreso with the fact that Shun sources their chicken wings from merely 120-day-old, free-range chicken.
Although we did enjoy vegetables like zucchini and asparagus deliciously grilled over charcoals which were served alternately to the rich proteins, the inner carnivore in us was overly gladdened by the sight of Uzura – Quail’s Eggs in the 11th course. Sounds ordinary, but there’s nothing average about these egg skewers. The eggs first get cold smoked with Japanese oak wood and then left to marinate slash cure for 12 hours in mentsuyu, a shoyu-shade soup base essential in Japanese cuisine. After this, it gets grilled lightly over charcoal to keep the yolk uncooked for that much-needed sensual runny #yolkporn situation. Now if you can make a pantry staple like egg truly scrumptious, then you can undoubtedly make about anything delicious – that’s our up-to-date measurement to a good chef and restaurant.
Leading up to the end, our tasting menu culminated with the presence of Ikura Temaki. Shun totally brought new light to the typical hand-roll seaweed wrap with their premium players like bafun uni, otoro and sujiko. The latter consists of salmon roe that still remains attached to its sac, which Shun cold-processes themselves for the best quality. Watching the chef in action as he fixed each one of us a perfect wrap stuffed with the three delicacies along with vinegar-spiked rice for a tongue-pleasing tang was probably one of the most satisfying moments about dining at Shun…and so we thought.
Only when the Unadon Unagi was served did we understand the true meaning of a showstopper.
The wild-caught eel gets showered generously in a molasses-like tare sauce aged over 50-year-olds. Once grilled, the eel gets cloaked more in the sauce, then grilled until it develops the caramelised crust that makes it glisten with full-flavoured delectability.
Our meal was capped off simply with Campfire Marshmallows and a few gulps of fine sake to take our dining at Shun up a notch. That being said, Shun also offers up a range of rare sake and old-world wines to liquor aficionado who likes to up their sumiyaki game.
Priced at THB 4,800++, the tasting menu here is packed with umami and definitely worth splurging the big bucks on, guaranteed by the two prestigious stars.
Shun by Yanagiya, 3rd Floor, Donki Mall, Unit 306, 107 Soi Ekkamai 5, Bangkok, +6697 854 2222; Open: Tue-Sun, 6-11:30 pm.