Offering noodles and a whole lot more, new Japanese eatery proves to be a dining paradise for the entire family
Over the past several years, Japanese cuisine has been taking Bangkok by storm. While delicate sashimi maintains its popularity in the Big Mango, you'll also hear yakiniku barbecue sizzling on almost every corner of the city, while the bubbling shabu shabu and sukiyaki hot pots add even more variety to the tropical gastronomic scene.
Of course, we always have room to welcome more Japanese delicacies. Today, the household vocabulary for the word 'noodles' includes ramen, the popular Japanese variant that is also gaining recognition among Thais.
A joint venture between the Sihanatkathakul family (of the Landmark Bangkok) and Uomasa, a well-respected sushi and sashimi eatery in Soi Thong Lor, Bishamon is a new restaurant that offers an alternative to the typically space-limited ramen joints. Located right on the side of the main Sukhumvit Road, the place is spacious. Its menu is extensive and its crowd is a diversity of locals and expats of all ages.
Bishamon offers an impressive variety of ramen from three different regions: Sapporo, Tokyo and Kyushu. And in each regional category, there are several choices, whether different types of soup, levels of spiciness or portion sizes.
For first-timers who find it hard to decide which ramen to order, I recommend you try Sapporo's original miso ramen (220 baht), the restaurant's signature.
From the wintery island of Hokkaido, the hearty Sapporo ramen presented thick, chewy noodles with succulent slices of pork loin, half-boiled egg, finely chopped leeks, bamboo shoots and seaweed in the intense miso-infused soup made with chicken and pork broth.
To the salty soup, roasted white sesame seeds added a nutty, slightly sweet flavour, while the chilli pepper lent a delightful fiery zest.
The second best-selling ramen choice, tonkatsu kogashi negi (210 baht) from Kyushu, featured thin noodles in milky, collagen-packed pork-bone soup.
Though not as flavourful as the pungent Sapporo dish, this noodle soup, from the southernmost of Japan's four main islands, was truly enjoyable and more recommended for the sensitive-tongued.
The least flavoursome choice for me was the Tokyo shoyu ramen (160 baht), of which its clear brown soup, seasoned with soy sauce, tasted mild.
Though labelling itself a ramen hub, Bishamon is by no means a place which restricts itself to the noodle soup. In fact, this 80-seat restaurant has almost every kind of culinary Japanese treat imagineable.
Bishamon's menu is huge. Other than the ramen, the illustrated 20-pager features almost 100 other items, including sushi, gyoza, tempura, grilled fish, yakitori, deep-fried items, curries, rice bowls, salads and side dishes. It also offers kids' meals to make it a dining paradise for the whole family.
From the gyoza page, we passed the likes of ordinary dumplings, sweet okonomiyaki and gyoza for the mentaiko gyoza (100 baht), which came dressed with delightful salty and spicy fish roe sauce.
Bishamon's collection of sushi, sashimi and rolls was also noteworthy, with more than two dozen choices of the delicacies.
Among the most popular items was cheese eel roll (180 baht), which promises to delight those desiring the tastily oily treat.
You might want to sample the grilled meat on skewers, too. We went for the mixed yakitori platter (280 baht) and found the bacon-enoki, bacon-asparagus, pork-scallion rolls and grilled chicken tsukune very satisfying.
If you're in the mood for grilled fish, there are hokke, summa, saba, aji and shishamo waiting for you. We tried the hokke (260 baht). The big mackerel, cut open, salted and charcoal-grilled, had an aromatic and oily taste that reminded me of Thailand's classic pla thu, but with a firmer texture.
We couldn't afford to miss sampling some of the set meals.
The Bishamon set (260 baht) that we ordered featured pork katsu (deep-fried, bread crumb-coated succulent pork tenderloin), fried prawn and fried chicken with a bowl of Japanese rice, miso soup and a side dish.
It was sad that the restaurant ran out of all its desserts (they looked very mouthwatering on the menu) when we visited. But we plan to go back there again, not only to check out the sweets, but to try some other treats that we didn't have this time. And I'm sure my whole family will definitely enjoy - so will yours.
More info: http://www.bangkokpost.com/leisure/cuisine/209497/raving-about-ramen