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  • Ginza Sushi Ichi

    One of the best Japanese restaurants in Bangkok

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    Ginza Sushi-Ichi at Grand Hyatt Erawan has only been open a year but is already standing as one of the best sushi restaurants in Bangkok. Before describing further, it is important to understand that Sushi-Ichi is not your usual sushi place but an affiliate of the original Michelin Star restaurant of the same name in Ginza, Tokyo.

    This is the real thing and you will need to book in advance and get your credit card ready. Such treat doesn’t come cheap but if you are familiar with the art of sushi mastering from the real Japanese dining scene, you will understand the price tag (and forget everything you know about those shopping mall sushi chains).

  • We sat at the counter, facing master sushi chef Narisawa and his impressive set of Japanese knives. Just by the look of the metal we could tell how sharp those long iron blades were. A waitress speaking excellent Thai, English and Japanese came to describe the menu and explain how it works to those not familiar with this way of dining, as it can be a little intimidating if this is your first time. Usually in fancy restaurants even a dinner course is described, but not here. Basically, it says ‘it’s up to the chef, so you will have to trust him’.

    We picked two sets from the menu… both of course without any description of what will be served in those sets… all it says is ‘Sakura Course - Chef’s choice - 4,000 Baht’ and ‘Omake Nigiri - Chef Choice Sushi - 5,000 Baht’. There was also an ‘Omakase - Chef’s Choice - 7,000 Baht’ and ‘Sushi Ichi Course - Exclusive Chef’s Choice - 10,000 baht’ but those two were definitely out of our range.

    You are asked if there are any fish, shells or seafood you do not like, and from this Chef Narisawa starts preparing some of the most delicate sushi in Bangkok. The rather high price is justified by two factors: the master skills of the chef who artfully balances the ingredients to compose the perfect sushi, and the origin of the fish. When a single sushi only uses extremely simple ingredients, each touch becomes important and the balance becomes the key. Just a touch of sauce, wasabi or yuzu zest, there is no way to hide the freshness and the quality of the sushi: it has to be perfect. The four chefs are all trained by the Masakazu Ishibashi, the Michelin Star of the original restaurant.

    The second reason that justifies the price and the rare quality is unsurprising: the fish and seafood is flown in every day from this very exclusive Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. If you had the chance to visit it (and it’s becoming difficult) you will instantly understand… the best Japanese sushi chefs get their fish from there, and just watching how they auction those enormous tuna is a show itself. Just to show the dedication to the quality, know that the restaurant is closed on Monday, because the Tsukiji market is closed on Sunday! 

    The chef serve the sushi one by one and we were three, so it seems that it could take a long time, but the overall dinner is an experience, each piece is delicately prepared with small touches of this and that and it results in a complex combination of tastes, each unique for being extremely fresh and of the most basic ingredients.

    We were served many kinds of fish, all names in Japanese so not easy to memorise; Aji, some amazingly good Ika (squid) quite a lot of superb Uni (sea urchin), anago (sea eel) and some incredibly fresh Ikura (Salmon eggs) 

    A special mention should be made of the small but excellent selection of Sakes. They appear to be quite expensive, and we tried three of them: one at the top, middle and bottom of the list and yes, it was obvious that the difference of price was fully justified. The cheapest is a little rough and dry while the best one was smooth and surprisingly fruity. Just remember to drink with moderation as sake is stronger than most think and since you are responsible and you are not driving, the main danger is to keep on ordering… at 1,000 baht a flask it adds faster than you think!

    Ginza Sushi Ichi also serves an affordable lunch menu starting at 1,300 Baht and it’s an excellent deal. Of course lunch will never compare to the real experience of dinner, something you should definitely treat yourself to for a special occasion. 

    Ginza Sushi Ichi

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