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Dining Out 3 minutes 07 May 2019

Best Japanese Restaurants in Bangkok and Phuket

Delicately fried tempura, slices of tender Hida beef, mind-blowingly fresh bites of nigiri— here’s where to get the best Japanese food in Bangkok and Phuket.

Thailand Japanese cuisine

Bangkok is obsessed with Japanese food. Just head to Phrom Pong, Ekamai, or pop into literally any shopping center in the city and you’re all but guaranteed to be met with ramen shops, hidden or very much in-your-face izakayas, or bargain sushi joints (spoiler alert: those ones won’t be gracing this list). Choices are seemingly endless but don’t stress. We’ve gathered the best of the best when it comes to Japanese food in the capital. Plus, we’ve added a few restaurants in Phuket where, although the trend is nascent, there are still a few spots worth calling out. Grab your chopsticks and dig in.

Bangkok

Ginza Sushi Ichi (One Michelin Star)

From Tokyo to Bangkok (and Jakarta and Singapore, too) Ginza Sushi Ichi flies in ingredients from markets in Japan every 24 hours to ensure the highest level of freshness. Meticulously and artistically arranged, the uncompromisingly authentic plates served at this omakase have grabbed the attention and respect of even the city’s most critical omakase goers.

Sushi Masato (Michelin Plate)

There’s a reason the waiting list is so long for this ten-seater omakase, and it involves spoonfuls of ensui uni, bites of otoro, and a sushi roll that is stuffed with ankimo, toro, ikura and both bafun and murasaki uni. Chef Masato Shimizu built his reputation in New York, where he earned Michelin accolades, which adds a quirky twist on the usually solemn omakase experience. Ask him questions about everything from how he slices the fish to where he sources his rice.

Masato Shimizu makes art at his 10-seater chef’s table. Photo courtesy of Sushi Masato.
Masato Shimizu makes art at his 10-seater chef’s table. Photo courtesy of Sushi Masato.

Gen (Michelin Plate)

With a stylish space that nods towards 1930s Japan and platters that combine different forms of charcoal-grilled chicken in mouthwatering ways, Gen stands out from many of the other Japanese restaurants in Ekamai. Smartly-dressed staff serve yakitori and fine whiskey in the space that boasts exposed wooden beams, tanned leather chairs, and antique oil lamps. Come with a date.

Mihara Tofuten (Michelin Plate)

When Gaggan Anand announced he was opening a tofu omakase, he was met with a little confusion, a little apprehension, and a lot of curiosity. Turns out, 16 courses of tofu works. Moving from simple— a bento of soft yuki tofu — to sophisticated— A-5 Wagyu-wrapped slices of tofu— it’s a meal that dares to change your perspective on the notoriously bland dish.

Tempura Kanda (Michelin Plate)

Mastering an omakase meal made up of tempura can be a challenge. The batter should be light, not oily, and the texture supple yet flavourful. But the chefs at Tempura Kanda have all of that down, and then some. The perfectly-fried premium seasonal veggies and noticeably fresh seafood are a display of tempura mastery. Break up the crunchy bites up with sake for an oh-so well-rounded meal.

Seafood is chosen by the chef at Tempura Kanda based on the morning’s freshest catch. Photo courtesy of Tempura Kanda.
Seafood is chosen by the chef at Tempura Kanda based on the morning’s freshest catch. Photo courtesy of Tempura Kanda.

Yamazato (Michelin Plate)

Between kimono-clad staff, fish from Toyosu Market in Tokyo, and both omakase and kaiseki menus, you’ll only be reminded you're still in Bangkok from the sweeping city views that Yamazato gives way to. This fine-dining restaurant on the 22nd floor of the Okura Prestige Hotel includes a sushi bar, tepanyaki stations, and an elegant dining area. Go for a lunchtime bento box or a sumptuous Wagyu toubanyaki kaiseki dinner.

Bento perfection from Yamazato at the Okura Prestige. Photo courtesy of the Okura Prestige Bangkok.
Bento perfection from Yamazato at the Okura Prestige. Photo courtesy of the Okura Prestige Bangkok.

Karatama Robatayaki (Michelin Plate)

As one of Bangkok’s only robatayaki-style restaurants, Karatama Robatayaki provides a decidedly entertaining dining experience where you get to choose from fresh ingredients—Japanese vegetables, seafood, beef—and watch as the chef grills them to perfection. The space is designed to look like something out of a Japanese market with baskets full of sweet potatoes and crab legs in buckets of ice.

Jidori Cuisine Ken (Bib Gourmand)

Cosy and dimly-lit, this little haven for grilled chicken has been mastering the art of jidori for over 12 years. Skewers are smoky, full of flavour, and vary in texture. Although it might not need to, the menu extends beyond bites of crispy chicken skin, ground chicken skewers, and a soul-soothing chicken hotpot. We recommend adding a sweet egg roll and a cured ham and mushroom salad to the mix, too.

Yakitori skewers are a must-order at Jidori Cuisine Ken. Photo courtesy of Jidori Cuisine Ken.
Yakitori skewers are a must-order at Jidori Cuisine Ken. Photo courtesy of Jidori Cuisine Ken.

Sushi Misaki (Michelin Plate)

Transporting his knife set from Tokyo’s Ginza to Bangkok, chef Masahiro Misaki’s omakase-only restaurant tucked away in Rain Hill is a journey through plates of succulent sashimi and bites of nigiri. The chef’s notably charming personality adds a relaxed air to the restaurant, but the food is nothing if not serious and authentic.

Sushi Tama (Michelin Plate)

A dinner at this six-seater omakase is a trip to a sushi bar down a quiet Ginza street. The 20-course menu features dishes that extend beyond a series of nigiri, with delicacies like sea urchin soup, conch, and iwashi sushi rolls all making an appearance. Dishes are plated on porcelain that look like they belong in a museum, adding to the overall refinement of the space.

Phuket

Baba Iki (Sri Panwa Hotel)

If you’ve ever been to Sri Panwa, you know that the resort’s F&B outlets are just as impressive as its uninterrupted Andaman Sea views. Combining both of those winning elements, Baba Iki serves dreamworthy grilled steaks and delicate bites of sashimi (all of which is flown in straight from Japan) in front of the best views in Phuket. Plus, the restaurant frequently hosts Michelin-starred sushi chefs for exclusive omakase meals.

Succulent grilled steaks at Baba Iki. Photo courtesy of Baba Iki.
Succulent grilled steaks at Baba Iki. Photo courtesy of Baba Iki.

Zuma

When Anantara Layan Phuket Resort announced they’d be hosting an annual three-month Zuma pop-up at its property, island-side Japanese food lovers rejoiced. The stylish restaurant is celebrated globally for its sophisticated twist on the traditional Japanese izakaya. Think dishes like black cod with miso and softshell crab, plus the sushi bar ensures that decadent rolls are never too far away. But plan accordingly, the pop-up only lasts from December to February each year.

The first Zuma pop-up in Asia is set at beach-bordering Anantara Layan Phuket. Photo courtesy of Anantara Phuket.
The first Zuma pop-up in Asia is set at beach-bordering Anantara Layan Phuket. Photo courtesy of Anantara Phuket.

Taihei (Banyan Tree)

No gimmicky hotel Japanese food here. Chef Shiga, a Chiba native, has been mastering the art of his national cuisine for more than 20 years, meaning you’re in pretty good hands when it comes to thickly-sliced tuna and meats grilled to perfection. The impressive dishes go exceptionally well with the elegant space of the poolside restaurant.

Dining Out

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