A Surprising Japanese Village on Sukhumvit 26
Nihonmachi, meaning Japanese Town, is a quite large and very convincing Japanese community mall located just behind the popular K-Village on Sukhumvit 26. As you reach the entrance, a typical Japanese red gate sets the tone as the whole area really feels like a Japanese village. The vast majority of the 19 shops are as close as you will ever get to a Japanese dining street in the middle of Bangkok.
Nihonmachi is the most attractive of the three known Japanese areas of Bangkok, the two others being Soi Thaniya in Silom and Nihon Mura also on Sukhumvit Road. Soi Thaniya does have many excellent Japanese restaurants but is overshadowed by the too many sexy girls lined up in the street (remember, Thaniya is in Patpong). Nihon Mura on Thong Lor Soi 13 has a lot of Japanese restaurants, shops, karaokes, massage parlours and a small shopping mall but all are scattered along a narrow, busy street.
Most restaurants are decorated in a casual style so typical of popular Izakayas; fun to the eyes and very convincing. Guests can expect to dine on the floor or around tables made of bottle crates, with vintage toys and posters scattered around, Japanese tiled roofs above the kitchen counter, traditional flags with Kanji characters and red paper lanterns stating their trade. The menus displayed in front of each shop also have a crowded typical Japanese design, showcasing hundred dishes, snacks, appetisers, cocktails and the specialty of each shop. The whole thing is very tempting and fun.
Just like in Japan, each restaurant specialises in one specific kind of food and not surprisingly the big favourites in Thailand are grilled or boiled meats and vegetable, so expect a majority of Yakiniku, Yakitori, Izakaya and Sukiyaki shops. However there are a couple of exceptions to this long list of Japanese delights: A Korean restaurant (Bulgogi Brothers 26) and an excellent fine-dining place called Napa on 26.
To this day we have tried four restaurants and all were really good… Nagiya, the most popular, can get really crowded on weekends so prepare yourself to queue for a while if you come for dinner. The restaurant is built on two levels. On the ground floor you can dine around normal tables and on the second floor you sit on the floor, the traditional Japanese way, but it can be uncomfortable if you are not used to this position. Food at Nagiya is good but the place can become very loud as waiters and waitresses feel compelled to imitate the Japanese way of greeting guests by shouting as loud as possible ‘Irashaimase’ which means ‘welcome to our shop’. In Japan it works, here it’s just extremely loud and distracting.
Another shop we enjoyed very much is Yakiniku Tan, an apparently modest Japanese BBQ located on the ground floor, but don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the decoration, the meat served here is of the highest grade. No fancy decor is needed, just simple tables with very effective and efficient grill devices embedded in the centre. By effective we mean that if the ventilation of the grill is done right, your clothes should not smell of smoked meat when back home, or worse, standing on the BTS. Yakiniku Tan serves a surprisingly large choice or sliced beef and pork from many origins but the best were the selections of Japanese imports.
Next to Yakiniku Tan, don’t miss the Toraya Japanese bakery serving all kinds of delicious breads and confectioneries.
Nirai Kanai is even more Japanese in spirit and design and clearly serves Okinawa dishes as the unmistakable music and tile roofs with dragon dogs reveals. The staff, as expected, are wearing the traditional Yukata outfit and welcome you at the sound of Irashaimase but in a more toned down fashion. Nirai Kanai is another very popular venue, serving large choice of grilled dishes, skewers and snacks typical of a Japanese Izakaya, with plenty of sushi and some real Okinawa specialties: Okinawa vegetable pizza, bitter gourd salad and the famous seaweed caviar salad.
Nihon Machi is definitely a success, to such an extent that more Japanese restaurants started to sprout outside the boundaries of the village, including the large ‘Ramen King’ that could be described as a Japanese noodle soup food court, in which each counter serves a Ramen from a specific part of Japan.
Overall Nihon Machi is a real fun place to go for Japanese food lovers, a great place to meet friends after work or for a weekend lunch or dinner. It really transports you to Japan without having to fly, and stepping inside any restaurant brings you the real atmosphere of a dining street of Tokyo, Osaka or even Okinawa.
- Opening Hours: 10:30 - 22:00
- BTS: Phrom Phong Station
- Address: 115 Soi Sukumvit 26, Sukumvit Road Khlong Tan, Khlong Toei, Bangkok, Thailand 10110
- Tel: 02 258 4959