Friday, March 30, 2012

Since we couldn't make it to Japan, we brought Japan to us!

Since my last visit to Japan in 2010, I've been dreaming about returning ever since.  I was hoping that some miracle would happen and I would be able to stop by Japan this year for their magnificent cherry blossom festival and maybe take a trip to Hokkaido for an amazing food tour.  But it was all just a daydream.  The schedule didn't quite work out and I'll have to put it aside til next year.  

Instead of moping and groaning for days, I have a lucky hamster who told me a secret about a little hidden gem.  The thing is this little gem is located at the largest mall in Thailand, Central World.  I was skeptical when she told me about delicious soft serve ice cream she got from a Japanese food court at Isetan, a Japanese department store located inside CTW.  I wasn't too excited, umm.. it's a food court? how special could it be? -_______-Well I took a trip there and finally got a snap with the cherry blossom as you can see ^_^.  And that's about as close as I'll ever get to a cherry blossom this year Y^Y.  It won't ever die and not really authentic, but it's pretty to look at in pictures right? lol.. Now, let's just get to the point about the food and I'll just summarize that it was a hell of a playground.  Located on the 5th floor of Isetan lies an incredible array of authentic variety of Japanese fare at extremely reasonable prices.  Behold for it is called the Souzai Delicatessen.  

With over 100 restaurants inside CTW, few actually know about this little gem. The layout is a little bit different.  There are about a dozen different vendors offering all different variety of Japanese fares.  Each vendor has about 4 seatings max. or non at all that you could sit down at eat at.  There are only 3 public tables nearby with about 4-5 benches that you could sit at.  So space is extremely limited and if you are there during busy time, you might as well pack it to go.  This is something I hope they would improve.  They offer such a wonderful array of Japanese food, but no room to sit!  You would think you could just order the food, pick it up, and then pay.  Nope, at Isetan, they write down your order, you take the receipt, then line up to pay at the cashier before coming back to pick it up again.  If you order to stay, sometimes they would bring it to you at the table.  I don't know, I find this method conflicting in terms of efficiency.  It seems to work, yet not.  Maybe it just takes time to get used to.

Anywho, they only offer the best of the best here.  There's vendor specializing in each type of Japanese food.  Nanja Monja, whose original branch is at Ascott building is also here and they are awesome at making okonomiyaki or Japanese pizza.  I ordered the buta monda (240 bath) which is okonomiyaki with pork slices and soba noodles in the middle.  It was really delicious.  If you haven't tried it before, you definitely should.

I've tried triangle rice balls or onigiri by Gokokuya before at 2 different locations, Emporium Mall and Terminal 21.  I fell in love with their ikura (salmon roe) onigiri since it's so fresh and well-seasoned.  The seaweed is kept individually sealed to maintain freshness.  It is so crispy and just breaks off when you take a bite.  No matter how full you are, there's always room for ikura onigiri.  And it's only 50 bath!!  What a steal, that's like, not even 2 dollas!
Now, what you're looking at here are 2 products from 2 different vendors.  The beef curry and rice set is from Hanna.  They only specialize in Japanese curry and you can add extra topping on top.  We decided to be humble citizens and went for the beef curry for 240 bath or less than $8.  It was very rich, savoury, delicious, and had a bunch of tender beef bits in it.  We ordered panko crusted hamburg steak instead.  It was very homey tasting and very filling.  Calorie count in this dish; probably over 2000.

There's a sweet shop that sells only traditional Japanese desserts.  Since my little hamster has never had a taste of what a dango was like.  And she was determined to find out.  The dango looked like fish balls on skewers.  It was only 50 bath and fresh off the grill.  It's basically dumplings made with mochi rice flour grilled and topped with a sweet and savoury sauce made with shoyu, sugar, and starch.  The more grilled it is, the more chewy the dumplings become, kinda like a melted cheese. Mmmm... These ones are only okay.  They weren't as grilled as they could be.  Check out the massive ones from Japan with different flavours.
Little kids eager to eat dango
Isetan dango 2012 
Dango in Japan in 2010
My little one is always thinking.  While we were eating, she found way to make our meal enjoyable.  Thus, she came back and brought a bottle of plum wine or umeshu for only 90 baht or just under $3.  Something to slide down with the food you know? The small bottle comes with with 2 plums well saturated in alcohol just to tip you over the edge.  What's more, there are 150 bath regular size Korean soju if you feel like hanging out longer or just taking it home with some yogurt to mix it to.  Cheap and good food, cheap alcohol.... This place is a gold mine.  And it's all foreign.  I don't even feel like I'm in Thailand anymore!

One of the main attraction at Isetan food court is the famous Miyatake tuna shop, a delicious sushi joint I have mentioned prior and one of the best joints in Bangkok.
Other honourable mentions include; cream puffs, tofu products, cakes and pastries, dim sum, yakitori, rice bowls, gelato. I guess they 'almost' have everything.  They do not have GYOZA RAMEN!!! o__o'' They should totally add them to the family.  This would be one great Japanese fare galaxy otherwise.  


For dessert, we tried out Buono gelato mochi.  They are basically rice flours dumplings filled with different flavour ice cream.  The unique one was probably durian, but I don't have the acquired taste for it.  They tasted really good, so we ended up getting a dozen.  Then, there's also Milkkan soft serve ice cream with yummy flavours like green tea, melon, coffee, sesame, and caramel.


Food : 4/5
price: $$
service: N/A (self-served)
value: 5/5

On the same floor, Hokkaido Food Fair 2012 is also taking place now until April 2 2012.  Be sure to check it out, giant grilled clams await you.  

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