Lunch of the Rising Sun
February 19, 2014
Hokkaido heads to Bangkok for a brunch that sails way beyond the basic buffet. Jeninne Lee-St. John sups with the fishes.
Published on Feb 19, 2014
Despite the facts that I’ve lived in Asia for five years and my mother is Chinese, the idea of fish first thing in the day has never appealed. Now comes along Kisso, tempting me with its refreshingly creative-but-not-crazy nouveau Japanese deliciousness, served all-you-can-order à la carte and accompanied by free-flow sake and wine. Yep, I think I can tackle high-quality sashimi, even after a Saturday night out in Bangkok.
And this brand-new Sunday afternoon delight is a departure from the city’s standard hotel brunch: it’s a refined binge-fest of a lengthy six-page udon-to-hot pot menu of top-tier ingredients like Japanese yellowtail and Canadian snow crab, served on gorgeous ceramic dishes by knowledgeable and friendly staff in a recently renovated den of serenity. (The smooth café au lait-leather banquettes alone would entice me back, for this languorous lunch or a romantic evening tête-à-tête.)
Two scallop dishes immediately won our hearts: the Hokkaido scallop carpaccio topped with sweet shrimp and roe, and the scallop au gratin accented by mini mushrooms. The former is simultaneously sweet and tangy, the latter crisp-topped creamy but not too rich. The shabu shabu salad sounds way less interesting than the ginger-sauced, beyond-tender strips of chicken that appeared (oh-so-briefly, before we devoured it all) on our table. And the charcoal grilled Wagyu beef with Japanese mushrooms and foie gras soy sauce is as impressive as it sounds: a perfectly seared serving of hot-pink bovine in a layered jus that doesn’t overpower—a delicate dance when you’re working with at least three kinds of melt-in-your-mouth mushrooms.
The three types of miso soup include red bean, and lobster, and made—counter to protocol, we know!—a lovely palate cleanser before diving back into the fresh sashimi and maki platters. We forwent the spider roll for the signature jumbo prawn and salmon sushi roll with creamy prawn sauce (which had just the right ratio of rice to fish), but having seen our neighbors’ table, we should’ve forcibly expanded our bellies and ordered both. Likewise, I’m still kicking myself for not getting the grilled snowfish with Hokkaido scallop sauce.
Silver lining: a little restraint leaves you able to fully savor the desserts, a course on which I usually waste no time (or tummy) at an all-you-can-eat. But what a revelation—the custard crepe and green tea tiramisu both are only faintly sweet and beautifully rendered.
Just like the chilled sake we’ve been steadily sipping. Which reminds me, sorry, your glass is empty again…
Kisso, at The Westin Grande Sukhumvit, 259 Soi Sukhumvit 19, Bangkok; +66 2 207 8000; kissobangkok.com. Limitless Sunday Lunch from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Bt2,490 net per person, plus Bt930 net for free-flow of sake, wine, beer and soft drinks.