In an era when Japanese restaurants are multiplying in the city like mushrooms after the rain, there's almost no sensible difference between Miyabi, Takeshi, Akiyochi and Hitachi. For Japanese language nit-wits, they all sound similar and don't say much more than "Arigatou, I'm Japanese."
Decked out in a minimalist fashion with a touch of industrialism, Shintori boasts two open kitchens run by a team of 24 kitchen crew members.
So, for me, the recent opening of Shintori amidst Bangkok's 200 outlets of Nippon cuisine, on the top floor of Zen Department store, didn't sound thrilling. My expectations for its culinary calibre were not high, particularly because the establishment is run by a retail proprietor. It didn't matter that it's set under the world-acclaimed brand (Shintori is an immensely popular Japanese restaurant from Shanghai, China) and seemed truly devoted to gourmet (it boasts two state-of-the-art kitchens attended by 24 crew members).
However, it wasn't long after I arrived at this 300-seat dining hall with a panoramic view of the glittering metropolis, that I fell in love.
After I sampled a few first dishes, I said to my dining companions that Shintori cuisine wasn't equivalent to its theatrical image. Of all 10 items _ entrees and desserts _ that we had, eight were profound and absolutely far above par.
The premium sashimi assortment features otoro, salmon, snapper, yellow tail, halibut, giant ark clam, ebi and nori seaweed.
Shintori is a conceptual restaurant where gourmet sushi, fresh sashimi and creative Japanese a la carte dishes are on offer. The menu, unlike that of many modern establishments, lists an impressive variety of unfussy-sounding dishes that come with an acceptable price tag.
After indulging in the silky soft tofu in salty sweet sauce, Shintori's complementary amuse bouche of the day, our party of four officially started off with Shanghai's bestseller: Vietnamese-style Peking duck roll (450 baht). In contemporary presentation, the platter featured bite-sized duck rolls in glutinous rice paper casing (perhaps the rice paper is what makes the delicacy "Vietnamese") escorted by small cubes of braised beef tongue and, to lend a Nippon tang, laced with sweet eel sauce.
The delightful duck starter was followed by what's called a cocktail, served like a soup and tasted marvellously like a hybrid of savoury and sweet. Arriving in a small bowl with cream-infused soy sauce, the delicately tasty avocado and tuna paste cocktail (320 baht) may have been improved only with a greater portion.
Next up was a premium sashimi assortment (1,590 baht), featuring otoro (fatty tuna belly), salmon, snapper, yellow tail, hirame (halibut), giant ark clam, ebi (sweet prawn) and nori seaweed. Thanks to its reasonable price tag, exciting variety and excellent quality, I had never been more impressed by any assortment of sushi than by this 21-morsel platter. Every single choice of the raw seafood exhibited a naturally sweet taste and remarkably fresh texture, especially the ark clam (so huge it can be sliced into three portions), which was extremely delicious.
The black oliveflavoured beef cubes with crispy gobo chips.
Foie gras aficionados, also any ordinary foodie alike, cannot afford to miss Shintaro's signature foie gras on radish (950 baht) _ a marriage between Asian simplicity and French luxury. Simple yet symmetric and sumptuous, the dish displayed a large and translucent wedge of white radish underneath a generous lump of goose liver professionally seared to yield a tight crisp skin that revealed a silky smooth yet firm centre. The sauce, a reduction of shoyu, mirin and ginger, also complemented the green and protein very well.
Another entree worth every baht was the black olive-flavoured beef cubes (650 baht). Each placed neatly on a gobo crisp, five 40g cubes of pan-fried Australian beef fillet, which has previously been marinated in pear sauce to absorb the fruity sweet zest, were enhanced by the salty and aromatic black olive pesto, roasted cherry tomatoes and deep-fried Italian basil leaves.
Our dinner proceeded superbly with dual options of sushi rolls. The first, a fatty tuna roll (350 baht), provided a great quality matched its five-star price tage. While the other, the house hand roll (195 baht), presented as nothing but crispy deep-fried gobo threads with sushi rice and Shintaro's special mayo sauce, was incredibly addictive.
When I ordered cold noodles, I was asked whether I would like the green tea soba (thin buckwheat noodle) or the udon (chubby wheat flour noodle). Since the first is much more common at other joints, I settled on the latter (350 baht), which arrived in a bowl made with ice, and accompanied by tasty light brown dipping sauce.
I might as well say that our gastronomic affair at Shintori could also have ended brilliantly even without the sweet finish (it's smarter to wrap up with the impressive collection of signature cocktails and mocktails from the bar). Though the miniature dessert assortment _ apple crumble, green tea tiramisu, chocolate green-tea ball, Thai tea pudding and yoghurt cheesecake (280 baht) _ that we had, was enjoyable.
The dining area was well attended by a team of 20 service staff, who blended conviviality with professionalism. The restaurant is usually packed after 8pm, so reservations are recommended.
The 300-seater is blessed with a panoramic view of the glittering Bangkok.
About the author
- Writer: Vanniya Sriangura
Position: News Reporter