Otsu Bar Bangkok, a ‘Micro Japan in Soi Choei Phuang’ Specialising in Japanese Spirits Pairing with Comfort Food in Thailand

 

 
 
 
 
 
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          Toon-Chan is the name that the Head Bartender/Co-founder of this minimal establishment liked to be called. Toon-Chan together with her friends, Atitharnbhorn Uwanno and Garin Kittiampon who share the same respect to Japanese bar culture, opened Otsu Bar, an umeshu bar [梅酒 : Ume means plum. Shu is from the word 焼酎 : Shochu means Japanese white spirit.

          Umeshu is a Japanese liqueur made by steeping ume in alcohol and sugar], with comfort yet delectable bar food that can satisfy your appetite along with your thirst. You can find this place tucked away in a very small alley off Soi Choei Phuang. The surrounding doesn’t seem fit for a legit bar but it’s there, just look out for the gleaming red light.

          “We really love Japanese culture.” Said Atitharnbhorn aka. Aom-og who takes charge of the kitchen, “We travel to Japan a lot and fell in love with Japanese culture, especially the food and Umeshu/Sake/Shochu bar. It’s cute and warm but simple. The food looks simple on the outside but the moment you put it in your mouth it’s flavourful.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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          Bangkok Foodies, once inside, were quite stunned by the bar’s petiteness in size, it was difficult not to be sceptical if they could produce quality food in such a confined kitchen space. The place was substantially crowded with salaryman and office ladies, much like in typical, small watering holes in Japan. A few were drinking Asahi tap beer and sake, others were drinking varieties of Umeshu. 

          Toon-Chan received us with a warm welcoming smile and two chilled glasses of Yuzu Highball (280 THB), an immediate nerve-relief from being squished inside BTS Sky Train with other Bangkokians after a day at the office. The freshly squeezed yuzu juice in the highball paired fantastically well with Suntory Japanese whisky, giving it a zesty depth and sophistication to this otherwise bland but refreshing beverage.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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          We were handed the menu which came in the form of a tiny clipboard, after scanning it, the Karaake Don (200 THB) immediately caught our attention. Come on! It’s fried chicken, which was fried perfectly so to speak. The crispy-skin exterior acted as a barrier to keep in all the chicken-y juice, the soft white meat was topped on Japanese rice. The recommended pairing of Choya Uji Green Tea Umeshu (175 THB) didn’t particularly accentuate flavours of the dish but it did help to cleanse the left-over grease from your palate. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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          Another pairing we tried was the Unagi Don [(ウナギ): Unagi means freshwater eel and Don comes from (丼) Donburi which means rice bowl] (330THB) with Yasuda Shochu (280 THB) [Shochu is a kind of Japanese weed alcoholic beverage with 25% ABV (Alcohol by Volume)] This pairing was our favourite. A whole, grilled eel with unagi sauce was slightly earthy with smoky notes, the Yasuda Shochu heightened the aroma of the eel and complemented the overall dish.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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          We recommend this quaint and private Japanese joint for those who like a bit of “Kawaii” (cuteness) in their drinking experience, the place is small and minimal littered with bits of kawaii decorations and props like paper origami and Japanese toy figurines at the bar counter. Most of all they offer genuinely tasty and satisfying dishes at friendly prices with highly flavourful Japanese beverages to match. 

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Otsu Bar
1064/59 Phahonyothin Rd.
Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: 065 539 2654

 

#WariyaI

Author: Wariya I.

Author: Wariya I.
Wariya has a strong passion for cocktails, and you may have met her several times but she likes to keep it casual and low-profile. She also likes to enjoy quality tea, especially Japanese green tea.