By : KEN BARRETT
02 October 2019
We have watched with great interest how the Japanese-owned Teppen izakaya, or taverns, have opened up across the city, starting with the first at Ekkamai, followed by the outlet tucked into a soi at Sathorn (our favourite, as the building itself is like an old tavern), and then at Thonglor, with a very prominent and modern premises.
Hearing that the latest Teppen outlet was due to open on Langsuan on 1 October, we made arrangements to visit as soon as we could, which happened to be 2 October.
The lower end of this long street, where it runs up to Lumpini Park (“langsuan” means “behind the garden”), has been a massive building site for several years now, and Baan Sindhorn is the first of what will be a series of projects to open. So new is this huge building that most of it is still fenced off, with last minute floor laying and other building work being done, and with Teppen one of the very few premises open.
The restaurant is on the ground floor at the top of the steps leading up from the pavement, and it faces the street. The doorway was piled high with congratulatory bouquets, and two hard-working young hostesses were checking reservations, because the restaurant was already crowded.
We entered to the customary shouts of irasshaimase!(come on in!), and kanpai! (cheers!).The interior is high ceilinged, with a large open kitchen along the far side. There is little in the way of decor, beyond a styling that is totally unpretentious as befits a genuine Japanese tavern.
The menu is styled in the same way as all the others, with big photographs and the kind of pizazz that has the dishes and the prices jumping out at you from the page, because this is not an expensive restaurant. In fact some of the prices are astonishingly low, especially as so many of the ingredients are flown in from Japan.
We started off with a big, misted mug of Asahi draft beer, the Hero size (640cc at 168 baht). Then we moved on to a bottle of Hakkaisan Junmai Sake (1,500 baht for a 720ml bottle, or 189 baht for a glass), which saw the two of us through the entire meal. As appetisers we had sticks of crunchy fried salmon skin presented in a cube-shaped wooden box with a mayonnaise dip (69 baht), and a set of three kinds of maguro sushi (319 baht), the fish slices impressively large.
There is a grill in the centre of each table, and we ordered beef sliced transparent thin (399 baht), dripping in marinade so that when we placed it over the red-hot rings flames leapt up and the meat, dipped in a raw egg, had a lovely rich char-grilled flavour. Intrigued by the grill, we ordered a serving of Hokkaido crab legs (1,290 baht), sliced lengthways, which are cooked at a lower temperature on the grill and the sweet crabmeat eaten with a silver spatula.
A tradition with Teppen is that departing guests are bid farewell by staff following them out the door with a colourful banner, and bidding them a speedy return. And a speedy return is precisely what we shall arrange.