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Tengoku + Yaki at Nimman

Top quality Japanese food

By Shana Kongmun
The Nimmanhaemin area is brimming with Japanese and Korean restaurants not due to just the large number of Japanese expats living in the area but also the love that Thai people have for Japanese food.

The restaurants range from pure sushi to Japanese favorites, costly to cheap. I tend to avoid cheap sushi, I have concerns over freshness if it is too cheap and sushi is one of those dishes where you get what you pay for. Tengoku + Yaki is connected with the fabulous Tengoku de Cuisine near the Dhara Dhevi and the experience and quality shows at the newest location on the corner of Nimmanhaemin soi 5 and the middle road (does that road have a name?) that runs parallel to Nimmanhaemin Road.

The entrance is on the side, go through two big wooden doors and step into an old Japanese style tea house or pub. The wooden beams, the iron work, it is all very cool and makes for a very atmospheric dining experience. The menus are clear and for those who don’t know Japanese food so well, a picture menu is helpfully provided.

We started with edamame and some chicken on skewers as well as pork with soy sauce dish. We asked for extra wasabi and got a dish of something green with bits in it. We were all a bit surprised until we tried it and it was some of the best wasabi any of us had ever tasted. The green bits made the whole thing just fabulous.

I ordered the sushi set and was not disappointed. Oftentimes a sushi set comes out with slivers of fresh fish on a lot of rice. This was not the fact here, the fish portions were delicious, fresh, tender and not at all fishy smelling as sometimes happens with the less fresh sushi. This set cost 800 baht and was, frankly worth every baht. You do get what you pay for.
My friend ordered the pork cutlet with gravy set (apparently a Japanese dish!) that came with the obligatory miso soup and also an interesting savory custard dish. My other friends ordered several dishes of maki – or rolls as they are known since one was a bit worried about eating uncooked fish. I gave her a bite of my salmon sushi and think she may be hooked!

We had Japanese beer with our dinner and found the service to be attentive and excellent. Generally I dislike it when my beer is at the little table off a ways since I tend to end up waiting for my refill. This was not the case here, the staff made sure our glasses stayed full and asked if we want to order another large bottle when we ran out.

We were going to stop at House of Wine but as the only wine drinker we ended up leaving since they only sell by the bottle. However, if you are with a group of friends who do all drink wine, this would be a nice place to stop as they have a very pleasant outdoor sitting area.

This place is not cheap. It is fairly pricey in fact but I felt that it lived up to its prices and none of us walked away disappointed thinking we had overpaid. With Tengoku + Yaki Nimman 5 you definitely get what you pay for. Open daily for lunch from 11 am to 2 pm and for dinner from 5:30 pm to 10 p.m. Reservations recommended as the place was packed at 7:30 p.m. 087 725 9888

RECIPES BY NOI: Kao Soi; the yellow egg noodle with yellow and coconut soup

Who doesn’t know Kao Soi? Who doesn’t like it? For expats, Thai people and anyone who ever visited Chiang Mai would have been heard or tried our famous yellow noodle dish at least once.
Here’s a very brief introduction; The most believable presumption is that Kao Soi first came from a Chinese-Muslim recipe which Chin Ho (Chinese from Yunnan province, South China) brought with them when they moved more south to northern Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. At first there was no coconut milk in the soup (I can’t imagine Kao Soi without coconut but I am really interested to try). And of course, Chinese-Muslims don’t eat pork and that’s why we mostly see Kao Soi with chicken or beef. Nowadays seafood, pork and meatball Kao Soi can be found as well but honestly, chicken and pork are really the best.
There is a very interesting fact about my city, Chiang Khong and Kao Soi and that is that we don’t have it there! We took it from Chiang Mai and of course you can eat yellow Kao Soi in Chiang Khong but when you say Kao Soi, then it will refer to Nam Ngiew, the previous recipe we cooked.
Let’s make it more complicated. Chiang Rai has the word Kao Soi but it’s Nam Ngiew with rice noodle/Sen Yai, when Nam Ngiew is served with Kanom Sen (or Kanom Jeen-fermented rice flour noodles) then we will call it Kanom Sen or Kanom Sen Nam Ngiew.
Ingredients for the yellow Kao Soi are quite different as the paste contains dried chili, salt, garlic, shallot, kaffir lime skin, krachai (fingerroot), Kamin (turmeric) lemongrass, shrimp paste and curry powder.
I always start by stir frying the past with a few spoonfuls of cooing oil and add beef. Then add soup and coconut milk. Beef will take a couple of hour to cook so make sure you have a lot of coconut milk. When the beef is tender we can add more sugar and salt.
The special add in the noodle are, deep fried egg noodles, shallots, coriander, pickled cabbage and a slice of lime.

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