Vol. XIII No. 19
Friday May 13 - May 19, 2005

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern




Kobe Yakiniku and Japanese Restaurant

Next to a language school, so is Japanese made easy?

Although it makes for a catchy headline, the new Kobe Yakiniku and Japanese Restaurant really is next door to the Pattaya Language and Computer school, and in fact, the “headmistress” Lamai is also the guiding force behind the new restaurant. When I asked why a Japanese restaurant, she just simply introduced me to her brother, a Thai chef who spent 15 years in Japan and had his own Japanese restaurant in Bangkok (until he saw the light and migrated south to join his sister).

The restaurant, which has only been open a few weeks, is set back from the main thoroughfare of Pattaya Klang, in a ‘slip road’ section between the major landmarks Carrefour and Foodland, and on the same side. It is in a single shophouse, and after you come in through the (sliding) door, you will find there are only five tables, set in alcoves. At the back is the Japanese kitchen with four dedicated chef’s under Lamai’s brother’s watchful eye. These include a sushi chef, a hot pot chef and the Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) chef.

The restaurant is spotless, and the chopsticks are plastic wrapped. Comfy seats invite you to stay, while along one wall are some larger photographs of different dishes to assist the Japanese novice.

The menu itself has a separate section for lunches with various ‘sets’ ranging in price between B. 100 and B. 350. They are also shown in photographs, so the non-Japanese diners will have an idea of what they are about to get. Great idea.

The main menu is also photographic and is in various sections - the BBQ, kimchi, rice, soup, sashimi, maki sushi, sushi, nigiri sushi and one polyglot grouping just called specialities followed by grilled fish items and the drinks menu which covers local beers and imported sake as well as the currently very popular green teas. With so many different dishes, it is not possible to give all the prices in this review, but as a guide, the most expensive dishes were only B. 350, with many choices less than B. 100.

Very early in the piece at this restaurant, I decided I could not possibly decide between all the different dishes, so we just let Lamai’s brother do it all for us. That was a good decision. As far as which sauce went with which dish, that was another decision that can be comfortably left to the serving girls in their traditional style kimonos! Both “Bus” (the short one) or “Tik” (the tall one), have much experience in Japanese cuisine, and are very charming young ladies.

The food we tried that evening was exceptionally well cooked and very well presented, with many being on very Japanese black plates, just adding visually to the Japanese flavour. The dishes familiar to us, such as sushi and sashimi, were excellent, and of course there was the wasabi, which is Miss Terry’s favourite, the pungent nature just highlighting the taste of the food.

Do try the Ishiyaki spicy fried rice. This comes in a hot pot, complete with an egg on the top and is then all mixed in together at the table, while it continues to cook. Another rather special dish was the kimchi with BBQ pork and lettuce. Again I was quite happy to let the staff show me how to wrap the pork and spicy accompaniment with the lettuce leaves. Once you know, it becomes easy! We also tried the tempura prawns, which came in an excellent batter and their own sharp sauce.

We finished our Japanese interlude with some cold sake, which came in its own small bottle. I refused the offers of hot sake, remembering the king-sized hangover that I suffered last time I tried this potent drop!

For the experienced Japanese diner this restaurant is another good alternative, and for the non-Japanese diner it represents a good fun place to dine on something different. Highly recommended.

Kobe Yakinuku and Japanese Restaurant, 194/9 Pattaya Central (Klang) Road, Pattaya, telephone 038 421 819, fax 038 360 175, open seven days 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Parking outside, off-street.

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