Bangkok Post reviews
Hurray for Honmono
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: November 23, 2012 at 8:16 am
Upmarket sushi brand opens a new branch that's easier on the wallet
The delicate and well-marbled Matsuzaka sashimi with a bowl of salty and tangy ponzu sauce.
The atmosphere was rather jaunty. Upbeat tunes enlivened the dining room in which nothing much more than an extraordinarily long sushi bar was set against a white brick wall underneath an industrial loft-style ceiling. Young office workers were spotted among other casually attired diners, all of whom came mainly for the variety of sushi.
"This is so not Honmono", a friend commented. "But it sure is pleasant."
One of the city's best known Japanese restaurant brands, Honmono, which opened in 2009 under the helm of chef Boontham Phakpho, has been famous for its refined Nippon fare and prime-quality sashimi that come with rather intimidating price tags. Thanks to the steadfast support of well-heeled locals, the restaurant has multiplied to six outlets within three years.
From as many as 60 mouth-watering sushi options, best-sellers are the turbot fin sushi, Cloud 9 sushi and JR sushi.
Opened in mid-September, Honmono Sushi Bar, the newest addition to the Honmono name, is set on the second floor of the chic Seenspace plaza, offering more casual Japanese-style dining that's also easier on the wallet. Yet the management hasn't neglected the integrity of Honmono's cuisine in which fine ingredients have always come to the fore. On the evening that we visited, the sushi bar's display fridge exhibited beautiful fillets of otoro (fatty tuna belly), gindara (sablefish), salmon and brackish water eel together with Hokkaido giant scallops, Venus clams, Japanese octopus, Sapporo red king crab, mentaiko (spicy marinated pollock roe) and a large block of foie gras. Such fresh produce arrives at the restaurant twice a week.
Menu-wise, it's more common for diners sitting at the long counter to ask one of the five or so sushi chefs for his recommendations. But for those sitting at one of the eight tables, the two-page fully illustrated menu can be very favourable, if not overly seductive.
The sushi bar boasts as many as 60 mouth-watering options _ classic and new style; raw and partly cooked _ while the sashimi section features 30 kinds of raw meat and seafood delicacies, from fatty tuna and snow crab to Matsuzaka beef.
Unless you'd like to go straight for the sushi, I recommend that you start your meal with Honmono's all-time popular silver fish salad (250 baht), a refreshing and scrumptious jumble of iceberg lettuce, seaweed, crispy fish and well-seasoned mayonnaise.
Then, if you are a beef fan, head for the Matsuzaka sashimi (800 baht). Served with a bowl of salty and tangy ponzu sauce in which a raw quail egg is calmly bathed, the delicate and well-marbled slices of prime-grade meat were enhanced by the pungent dipping sauce as well as a variety of seaweed (badderlocks, sea grape, sea kale, sea lettuce) underneath. The dish offered a heavenly mouthfeel thanks to the soft and naturally flavoursome beef that mingled nicely with the crunchy seaweed.
The Ancestor rice bowl features a nice portion of sushi rice underneath generous heaps of salmon roe, flying fish roe, sea urchin roe and a quail’s egg.
One of Bangkok's most sought-after sushi toppings at the moment seems to be engawa (turbot fin). So it's little wonder that the engawa aburi sushi (100 baht per piece) is a best-seller here too. Placed on top of the well-seasoned sushi rice was a crunchy and naturally flavourful slice of white turbot fin that had been flash-cooked with a kitchen torch to yield a smoky zest.
I also sampled the foie gras sushi (250 baht per piece). The nice and substantial portion of goose liver wasn't at all mushy and was simply, sinfully delicious.
Among the sushi we tried that evening, the highlights included Cloud 9 (350 baht), which featured a rich and oily otoro fillet topped with sea urchin roe and miso sauce; JR (180 baht), showcasing the sweet and delicate meat of snow crab leg with crab puree; hotate saikyu (120 baht), highlighting succulent and mildly sweet scallop with tasty miso dressing; and Volcanic, which presented snow fish with foie gras sauce (130 baht).
From a dozen choices of rice bowls (just looking at the pictures will make your mouth water), we went for the Ancestor (600 baht). This was a nice portion of sushi rice totally covered with generous heaps of salmon roe, flying fish roe, sea urchin roe and a quail's egg. This dish, with its bright and tempting appearance, was a favourite of my two dining companions, but it didn't make much of an impression on me.
The sushi bar's dessert menu is limited to two options: mochi ice cream and matcha (green tea) ice cream.
Yet, I was recommended by a waiter to try the day's special: candied black bean in fresh milk (300 baht), which presented plump and silky imported black beans (each as big as a peanut M&M) that marvellously intermingled with the fresh milk.
Opened in mid- September, the sushi bar is set to offer more casual Japanese-style dining that’s easier on the wallet without neglecting the integrity of Honmono’s fine cuisine.