Bangkok Post reviews
It’s all about the beef
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: July 25, 2014 at 8:21 am
With Japanese-style tabletop barbecue restaurants more prominent than ever, Ito Kacho does its part to provide top-quality meat in the Nippon standard
The chilled black Wagyu platter from the premium matsu set.
The boom of Japanese-style, tabletop barbecue beef restaurants in Bangkok over the past few years makes it hard to imagine that in the past decade the popularity of beef consumption among Thais was almost almost at zero.
The skyrocketing popularity is probably due to nothing but the quality of beef itself. In recent years, consumers have been introduced to more and more sophisticated choices of the meat. And now, whether in a lavish gourmet sphere, pedestrian food industry or at household level, no one seems to settle for a mediocre standard.
The 24-hour marinated Wagyu tsubozuke.
This week’s subject of review, Ito Kacho, is further evidence. Discerning epicures may say it’s just a franchised yakiniku joint from Japan (it has more than 100 outlets worldwide), but this 80-seater is a place where you can indulge in world-class, melt-in-the-mouth flavour profiles of authentic pure-bred black Wagyu.
At this seven-month-old eatery, packed with Japanese executives and red-meat lovers who come to enjoy the traditional DIY barbecue experience from the wood-fire tabletop grill, the beef is imported from Japan — chilled, not frozen — and carved by meticulously trained chefs according to a high Nippon standard.
Ita Kacho’s menu offers a dozen a la carte options of black Wagyu beef. It’s ideal, though, for first-time diners to settle on one of the six assortment sets. That’s not just because each set introduces various choices of cut in one go, but also because the portion proved real value for money.
Our party of four went for the most pricey matsu set (3,580 baht). It’s a large platter of six premium cuts of black Wagyu beef, including rosu (rib-eye), tokujobara (boneless short rib, of which only a small portion is generated per cow), tomobara (belly), nakabara (chuck short rib), kainomi (super tender upper rib) and tsubozuke (24-hour shoyu-marinated short ribs).
Except for the tsubozuke, which was served in an earthenware pot and cut into bite-size pieces over the flame, all beef came thinly sliced and unseasoned so that nothing would overpower its genuine taste.
To describe each particular cut in detail might spoil your dining excitement. Thus, I’ll briefly assure you that they all provided true gourmet ecstasy. The beef either burst with sweet fatty juice or showcased an extraordinarily tender texture.
There aren’t many yakiniku joints in the city that offer cattle offal for the tabletop grill, but at Ita Kacho choices are decent. We had an order of large intestine (200 baht), thoroughly soaked with house-concocted marinade sauce and exhibiting a very clingy meat. Beef aficionados will surely be delighted by its pleasant characteristic beefy, not typically innard-y, taste profile.
And if you enjoy its springy texture, you won’t regret having a delicious platter of thinly sliced beef tongue (280 baht) either.
Although beef is the highlight here, that doesn’t mean that pork fans will be left in despair. From a modest selection, highly recommended is tsubozuke pork (380 baht). The 160g offering of miso-marinated pork in an earthenware pot was truly impressive in terms of taste and serving size. Other choices include pork belly (200 baht), which was fine.
For those craving seafood, taraba crab legs (680 baht) promise the freshness and prime quality of the famous Hokkaido red king crab. The crab legs arrived partially cooked and were flash-charred at the table. After a few seconds of grilling, they yielded a firm, supple and naturally sweet taste which was perfectly enhanced with the charred aroma.
From a small selection of carb-centric dishes (rice porridge, rice casserole, sushi rolls and cold noodles) that will complement — or wrap up — the barbecue fare, I couldn’t miss praising one particular rendition of bibimbap (Korean-style rice casserole) the restaurant has on offer.
The mentai and cheese bibimbap (260 baht) features rice with shimeji mushrooms, bean sprouts, mentaiko (spicy cured pollock roe) and cheese. Served in a hot stone bowl, the gradually charred rice yielded a delicate crunchy taste and aroma that’s complemented by the rich cheese and fish roe.
Our great dinner finished off with another delicious stone bowl treat — this one freezing cold.
The ice stone mixed berry (195 baht), which with we fell in love, features raspberry sherbet ice cream, house-made cream cheese cubes and frozen berries, which were mixed together at our table.
The hefty portioned dessert — perfect for sharing among two diners — nicely unified the slightly salty cream cheese with the tangy sherbet and a frosty sweet crunch.
Compared to most popular yakiniku restaurants, Ito Kacho’s service staff was attentive and quite knowledgeable.