Bangkok Post reviews
A steak in your budget
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: July 13, 2012 at 3:57 am
Tokiya serves up a multi-course taste sensation with a (tiny) price tag that might leave you speechless
A few years ago I came across a tiny stand-alone eatery in Silom which was brave enough to serve Bangkok diners only a degustation menu _ a Western style of gastronomy typically found at top hotel establishments.
With a 750-baht-per-person price tag, the quality of food, as I might have believed back then, matched the bill. The meal was enjoyable, yet for some reason it failed to intensify my faith in out-of-hotel multi-course dining.
Compared to that of a truly refined restaurant, which was likely to offer the same four-course menu at more than 1,500 baht, that meal I had in 2010 seemed fairly reasonable.
Nothing, however, had brought back the memory until recently when I decided to check out Tokiya, one of (who-knows-how) many Japanese restaurants owned by the green-tea tycoon, Tan Passakornnatee.
The restaurant's official name is Tokiya Fusion Steak Course and, of course, is specialised in the multi-course, steak-highlighted dining.
Tokiya’s Australian beef steak with sweet potato poached in orange juice.
I remember spotting the restaurant's large advertising billboard on the side of the road and, like a lot of people in my foodie circle, passed it by without any particular interest. What could you expect from a multi-course, steak-focused menu that costs only 499 baht?
You must be out of your mind if you think it would be a real gourmet meal that would impress connoisseurs.
Well, maybe it was me who was hallucinating with prejudice.
Two weeks ago, we actually paid 548 baht, including tax and service charge, per person for a very pleasant eight-course, Japanese-styled steak dinner at Tokiya.
The meal comprised appetiser, salad, soup, rice dish, icy cider, main course, dessert and drink. For each course, there was a decent selection of dishes to choose from. And from my experience, I'd say you would not regret following your own preferences.
Every meal begins superbly with Tokiya-style eringi _ a compulsion, not an option, which presents pan-grilled chewily chubby Japanese mushroom tossed with special sauce and yuzu zest. This starter treat tasted so good that a dining companion decided to order more (100 baht, for an extra order).
For the salad there were four choices. After sampling three, my most favourite was, amazingly, the tomato salad with lobster roe. Served perfectly chilled and neatly peeled was a whole, medium-size tomato in which was revealed a tasty creamy filling made with seasoned shrimp roe. For a non-tomato fan like myself, I found this particular salad very refreshing and addictive.
Another dish, a tropical salad ideal for summer, was a lovely combination of tuna morsels, squid and shrimp, fresh radiccio and tropical fruit cubes in sweet, tangy and slightly peppery dressing.
That day it included mango, papaya and watermelon _ a smart yet rewarding combination of paltry local fruits that made you forget more cosmopolitan options like apple, peach or cantaloup.
Ideal for summer is the tropical salad, a lovely combination of tuna squid, shrimp and fresh local fruit.
Meanwhile, Akami tuna salad presented three nice slices of the flash-seared fish with its cold, pinkish-red meat coated in black sesame seeds and accompanied by a trio of mouth-watering sauces.
Of the four soup choices, we tried Western-style tomato soup and sour and spicy Thai-style tom sap pork. Both were delightful. There are only two options for the rice dish, the cha shu don and the pesto rice. All three of us settled on the first, which featured a small portion of well-cooked rice topped with grilled soy sauce-marinated pork _ very succulent and flavourful indeed _ and Japanese green onions.
Just like how diners at fine European restaurant cleanse their palate with sorbet before proceeding to main course, Tokiya's diners are offered a refreshing intermission with mulberry vinegar juice. Arriving partially frozen in a small cup, the icy cider with its sharp tang deliciously prepared us for the hefty course that was to come.
Unlike the small selection of previous starting courses, Tokiya's selection of mains was impressive with more than 10 options ranging from prime-grade steak to poultry, pork, fish and combination platters.
If beef is included in your diet, don't miss Tokiya's Australian beef steak. Two slabs of beef sirloin, perfectly grilled to your preference, came with apple and sweet potato wedges and three choices of sauce.
As proof that it's real value for money, the well-seasoned beef was very tender and flavourful, making the accompaniment of sauce unnecessary.
The steak intermingled smartly with the pink-coloured apple and the super soft sweet potato which had been poached in orange juice to exhibit a pleasing citrus zest.
The salmon steak, meanwhile, presented a perfectly pan-fried fillet of the pinkish-orange, flavoursome fish with tomato salsa and tartar sauce.
The other main course that the restaurant highlights is Greenland halibut with teriyaki sauce. An ideal dish if you are looking for a light and healthy yet very flavourful treat.
The fish, in a large, flat fillet, was cooked in a foil wrapper with ginger, carrot, eringi mushroom, lotus root and salty sweet sauce over wood-fire flame to yield a soft white meat seethed by a captivating smoky touch.
We passed the best-selling, internationally popular dessert, tiramisu, for a less worldly choice: jackfruit with coconut milk ice cream.
Wonderful was how we described this modern translation of the local street-side sweet.
Every single dish we had that evening came with artistic presentation to endorse the restaurant's slogan, "Where eat meets art".
But that's not the major reason why I still yearn for a return to Tokiya, which is, for me, more of a dining destination "where refined gastronomy meets budget".
The minimalist, contemporary casual setting of Tokiya Fusion Steak course restaurant.