I have got a wonderful chance to experience the new course of Bangkok’s famous Japanese restaurant Mugendai Honten prior to its release date on June 10. Situated at Thonglor Soi 10, the sushi-ya keeps its zen-inspired serenity away from neighbour hustle and bustle. Those who have visited the place would be familiar with this two-storey concrete house with an industrial look of exterior design and its greenery around.
Walk through the entrance door and you’ll first meet with the exhibition of a single rock in the middle of whole white scene which resembles the modest philosophy of zen. There is a staircase which leads you to the second floor where smiling waitresses welcome you to the seat of your choice. If you walk in alone, it’s preferable to sit on the sushi bar as it’s the best spot to closely observe and converse with chef. But if you come with your family or groups of colleagues, which would be a better choice than sitting under Chabudai, a Japanese short-legged table which is provided in the private section room.
The method of zen doesn’t reflect only on design and architecture, but could also be seen in its menu. Mugendai Honten has just launched its nine-course omakase experience to serve Japanese food lovers, still convey the message of Japanese simplicity yet delicacy. Start with Iwashi Namero, served as an appetizer. You will enjoy with its crunchy texture of tempura-fried seaweed topping with miso-mixed chopped Iwashi fish while watching chef slicing hirame for the next course.
Hirame is the word used to describe any type of white-fleshed, bottom-dwelled flatfish. The chef chose the halibut, which is acclaimed for its superior taste, to make me a sushi for the second menu. Scooping the perfect-sized rice within a move of his professional hand, he told me that the fish has been fermented for at least three days just to accentuate its hidden natural deliciousness, as Japanese calls ‘umami’. And yes, no doubt it tasted so good!
While I was clearing my mouth with pickled cabbage and ginger, Iwashi sushi was served next. Iwashi is generally known as Japanese sardine, with its strong odour and salty taste. To cover the pungent fish, the chef added more sliced fragrant ginger between. The ginger helps erase the undesirable smell and balances the taste of fish with its coolness.
The next ingredient is the highlight of this omakase journey. I’ve seen it lying inside the temperature-conditioned display glass on the bar. Its large eye staring at me had made me feel pathetic. But that’s before I tasted its juicy flesh of the Kinmedai, or alfonsino fish. I can see an obvious pattern of healthy fat tracing along the thick chunk that was served on the sushi rice, which is the best of all.
Before we continued to the next course, the chef, who wouldn’t like to waste the rest of the fish, made us another extra sushi with kinmedai skin burned in aburi style. The spicy-and-sour topping in which the fish was immersed made a good contrast and dynamic to spice our tongue.
Ama Ebi was served next as a risotto mixed with shrimp paste, topped with the fresh huge shrimp. The flavoured risotto gives a satisfactory taste and the shrimp is on top. So pity it was served in a tiny portion, because it made my mouth watery, yearning for more of it.
Now it’s the time for the most controversial menu of fresh roes of sea urchin, Uni. There are as many Uni lovers as Uni haters, due to its raw yet creamy texture that could be too much oily for someone’s taste. Its bright orange smoothness was spread over the boiled rice formed above a sheet of seaweed, served on a bamboo mat. Its feature allured me to try a bite and surprisingly it didn’t disappoint me. I can swoop down on the whole serving.
Hotaru Ika, or mini squid, is affordable only in this season of the year. That might be why the chef decided to ferment them, grill and serve them as one of this special omakase courses. The squids were stuffed with its own intestines that were so flavourful. Despite being a little bit over-burnt, the squids came along well with pickled vegetables that were served as a side-dish.
The chef revealed that the best way to dine sushi is to begin from the mildest ones to the strongest ones – the same way to eat cheese – lest the pungent taste overcomes other flavours. But if you want to eat them as you please, he suggested clearing your mouth with pickled cabbage and ginger or a bowl or soup before going on. Asari Soup, last but not least, was served on this purpose. The delicate soup was cooked together with fresh clams, so it turned out so sweet and had a sense of chilliness which refreshed me fully, preparing me for the dessert.
Our last course was a fresh strawberry cream cheese served on a bowl full of ice to keep the dessert always cool. A red plump strawberry was quartered and served on top of a fresh cream cheese. The sweetness and crunchiness of the fruit combined well with the full-flavoured taste of the cheese, finalising this nine-course omakase journey with unforgettable pleasure.
Good omakase depends on the creativity and adaptability of a chef to adjust and arrange a set of dishes to please his consumer, also his friendliness to share some tips that makes you know better of what you’re going to dine. The chef here matches all the points. So there’s no better reason to try this once-in-a-lifetime experience of having dinner exclusively designed only for you and your friends.
Thonglor Soi 10, Sukhumvit 63,
Watthana, Bangkok 10110