Sake, Skewers, and Sashimi: 5 Izakayas in Bangkok That You Must Visit At Least Once!
Japanese food has always been one of the most popular cuisines among Thai people. Finding a high-quality Japanese restaurant for a nice meal with your friends and families have become extremely easy in Bangkok, especially in this past 4-5 years. “Izakayas” or Japanese-style bars have also become popular due to the authentic tastes, extensive drinks menu, and late hours.
Traditional Izakayas are Sake bars that become back all the way to the Edo period in Japan but rose to popularity in the Meiji period or from the year 1868. Over hundreds of years, Izakayas have continuously evolved and alongside the ever-changing lifestyle of Japanese people through the ages.
From a simple Sake bar, Izakayas have become an has hangout spot with all kinds of alcoholic beverages including beers, Soju, cocktails, wines, and whiskey. The food mainly features items to share such as Edamame, pickled vegetables, fried chicken, sashimi, and skewers. Some places also offer more filling become like rice bowls, ramen, and hot pots at an affordable price.
There’s a variety of Izakayas available for you to experience in Bangkok. Some are more traditional than others, while some are geared towards the modern spectrum or even luxurious. If you can’t choose which one to go to, we’ve narrowed down for you to 5 Izakaya that will definitely give you unique Japanese-style dining and after work hangout experience with your friends.
Ma-Ke` Inu isn’t a full-on Izakaya, but more of a crossover between a Japanese restaurant and a bar. They serve up homemade dishes alongside Japanese-style beverages in a cozy setting. The idea started from a conversation between a group of 8 friends of different ages.
After they’ve all shared their experiences, they felt that they were a group of “losers”, hence the concept of a “Loser’s Bar”. No matter what you’ve been through during the day or if you’re feeling down lately, you can still come to this restaurant for good food, great service, and a homey atmosphere that can make you feel much better.
The restaurant isn’t big, but the interior is very well-organized and makes way for a spacious dining experience. The first floor has some bar seatings from where you can see the chefs at work while the second-floor houses tables for large groups.
The owners chose to mainly use wooden furniture and decorate the space with their personal collections that come in all shapes, sizes, style. You can find things like traditional Japanese toys, movie posters, baseball gloves, Polaroid cameras, and figurines placed all over the restaurant making you feel at home.
Every single dish served at Ma-Ke` Inu are made from a homemade recipe where even simple condiments like soy sauce and salad dressings are made in-house. The menu features many types of Donburi (Japanese Rice Bowls), but also offers a variety of different Japanese-style items. We highly recommend the Steak Don (360 THB) that uses a flavourful cut of Flat Iron Wagyu steak. One of their latest menu, the Salmon Tartare (140 THB), rolls up freshly-chopped salmon in seaweed into perfectly-sized bites. The Salmon Sweet Chin (180 THB) offers a tasty option for the adventurous with a whole salmon head simmered in sweet soy sauce.
The beverage menu consists of a little bit of everything including the Suntory Highball, Umeshu Choya, draught beers, bottled beers, and a variety of soft drinks.
Location: 150/2 Lat Phrao Road, Khwaeng Chom Phon, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900
Nearest MRT Station: Phaholyothin (Exit 1)
Hours: Wednesday - Monday 17.00 - 24.00
JUA, a modern Izakaya located in the Charoen Krung area, was born from a collaboration between chef Chet Adkins and professional photographer Jason Lang. They realized that most Izakayas in Bangkok offers a traditional experience regarding both food and atmosphere, so they decided to do something different. The building was originally an illegal casino that operated under the radar for 20 years, hence the name “Jua” which means “drawing a card” in Thai.
The first floor of the restaurant features the design efforts of Sean Dix from Dix design+architecture in Hong Kong, also known for his work at other famous restaurants such as Yardbird, Ronin, Carbone, and Belon. As you walk in, you’ll first notice a Terrazzo bar that adds a modern element to the overall atmosphere. The walls on both the 1st and 2nd-floor feature photos from Jason himself and his fellow photographers. The exhibits currently on display are permanent, but they will also be displaying works from many other artists from time to time. If you’re an artist yourself, you can also have your work be displayed on either floor or the entire restaurant, much like an art gallery.
The menu was curated by chef Adkins himself, blending together his love for Japanese food and his inspirations from the artistry he observed from cuisines around the world, resulting in what is called “Japanese food with global influences”. The Meatball (120 THB) or “Tsukune” is made with ground pork grilled on a skewer and dressed with Japanese soy sauce and grated egg yolk. The Prawn (220 THB) uses a special durian butter made from fermented durian mixed with butter and seasoning. Another recommend menu is the Uni Pasta (800 THB) that uses Orecchiette pasta topped with Uni and Ikura, a dish influenced by Italian, French, and Japanese cuisine.
Drinks at JUA focuses mostly on Sake with over 10 different kinds to choose from. There’s also Umeshu, Soju, Japanese whiskey, and classic cocktails, as well as you regular vodka, gin, and brandy. We recommend Miss Ozawa (350 THB), a bright red concoction of gin, dry vermouth, lime juice, and raspberry syrup topped with egg white foam. The Umeshu Highball (350 THB) is also worth a try. Made with Umeshu, soda, and cherry liquor, this drink goes perfectly well with Japanese food.
Location: 672/49 Charoen Krung Road, Khwaeng Bang Rak, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500
Nearest MRT Station: Hua Lamphong
- Monday - Saturday 18.00 - 24.00
- Sunday 17.00 - 22.00
The idea for Rokukyu 69 came after the same team that created the critically acclaimed Flat Marble went on a trip to Japan together. There, they discovered their love for traditional Izakayas and decided to bring it back with them to Bangkok. The name “Rokukyu 69” comes from the word “Roku” which translates to the number 6 and the meaning of happiness and joy, and the word “Kyu” which translates to the number 9 and the meaning of improvement.
To maintain the same homey atmosphere like the Izakayas in Japan, the owners opted to place in less seats to make things more spacious for the patrons. Further inside the restaurant, however, is a 12-seat private room for those who want a more exclusive experience. The most notable aspect of the restaurant is the decoration, both inside and outside, that was crafted from the hands of the owners themselves. You’ll find a wall filled with snippets of magazines that they brought back with them from the Japan trip, Japanese-style handwritten signs, and a paint job unique to only Rokukyu 69 on the outside walls.
The menu mainly features “Yakitori” (charcoal-grilled chicken skewers) and many other shareable items unique to Izakaya-style restaurants but with a minor touch of Thai flavors as well. Some items aren’t permanent to the menu as it depends on the availability of a seasonal ingredient, so be sure to give them try when you have a chance!
There are also flavors options including Donburi, Suki, Nabe, and Ramen, and top-sellers like Tako Wasabi, Bulgogi rice bowl, and Thai-style Sun-dried beef. We highly recommend the Chicken Combo Set (6 skewers for 199 THB), all sorts of chicken parts grilled to perfection and served alongside seafood dipping and Thai-style sauce. Other notable menus are the Grilled Pork Neck With Roasted (129 THB) and the Shiokara (99 THB) or fermented squid pieces that you can choose to have it as is or as a spicy Thai-style salad.
The drinks menu here includes everything that you need from beer, Umeshu, Sake, Highball, all the way to Brandy. The draught beers here aren’t like any other places, as you can find unique and creative flavors like Honey-Lemon, Strawberry, and Passionfruit. We gave the Umeshu Choya (149 THB) a try. The lightly sweet taste perfectly complemented all the grilled skewers while keeping us all cool and relaxed through the night. No wonder why this drink is a must-have for those who frequent Izakayas.
Location: 24/4 Phahonyothin Road, Khwaeng Samsen Nai, Khet Phaya Thai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400
Nearest BTS Station: Ari
Hours: Sunday - Friday 18.00 - 24.00
The owner of Sasori Izakaya drew inspiration from a more modern-style Izakaya in “Roppongi” (one of Japan’s most popular entertainment district). Adding together the passion, interest, and knowledge in Japanese cuisine from one of the partners who was behind a Japanese restaurant in Ari named Sousaku, this contemporary Izakaya in Soi Phaholyothin 11 was born.
Within the modern and simplistic design, the interior maintains a Japanese vibe by using wooden elements over cement. The walls are minimally decorated with artistic drawings, giving the restaurant a more upscale atmosphere, but also cozy and inviting. Sasori Izakaya is perfect for social gatherings, especially for dinner after work with your colleagues.
Most of the items on the menu are mostly light and shareable food that is best shared among a group of friends for a night out drinking. Even though the menu might not be as diverse as most Izayakas, but every menu is carefully curated by the team of chefs to ensure your perfect after-work meal.
We recommend the Eihire and Squid Grill Set (229 THB) - a combination of charcoal-grilled squid and stingray fin served with a mayonnaise dip topped with chilli flakes, Grill Cheese Nori (260 THB) - Nori seaweed wrap topped with dried fruits and nuts, Bottom Shioyaki (39 THB) - salt-grilled chicken bottom, Thigh Yuzukocho (45 THB) - tender chicken thighs grilled with Yuzukocho sauce made from Yuzu and Japanese pepper, Liver (35 THB) - cubed pork liver grilled to perfection, Beef Enoki (55 THB) - beef chuck skewers wrapped with Enoki mushrooms, and the Beef Leek (55 บาท) - beef chuck skewers wrapped with leek and doused with a sweet beef sauce made in-house by the chef.
Sasori Izakaya offers all kinds of beers, including craft, draught, and bottled. There’s also 7 different types of Sake to choose from, Umeshu, and Yuzu. The Yuzu drink isn’t as sweet as the Umeshu and has a slight sour element to it that perfectly compliments the meat-heavy items on the menu.
Location: 39 Soi Phahonyothin 11, Khwaeng Samsen Nai, Khet Phaya Thai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400
Nearest BTS Station: Ari
Hours: Monday - Saturday 17.30 - 24.00
Soi Thonglor 10 is considered one of the hot spots of Bangkok’s nightlife scene. Revelers gather in the area early on the night and often leave a bit before the closing time to grab a bite to eat. Some take a cab to nearby late-night restaurants or queue up at the local street food vendors, but inside the Arena 10 complex there’s also a spot that offers affordable Japanese food as well as alcoholic drinks for those who want to go for round 2! Izakaya Yokohama, unbeknownst to many, sits right beside some of the most popular nightclubs and bars in town.
The Japanese owner claims that he wants to create an upscale Japanese dining experience at an approachable price. The modern interior perfectly compliments the simple and minimally luxurious atmosphere. On the front of the restaurant are the bar seatings where you can catch a view of the chefs working on your dishes. Further inside are segmented dining rooms that can hold 2-20 people each. If you’re one who likes to dine among a natural setting, there’s a garden section in the middle of the restaurant that houses 3 dining tables. One of the best things about this place is the view from up high on the 3rd floor where you can catch a glimpse of the nightly activities down at the clubs and bars nearby through the windows.
Izakaya Yokohama offers all the classic Japanese-style snacks and mains similar to the other Izakayas in towns like Tako Wasabi, skewers, sashimi, and Donburi (Japanese Rice Bowls). What sets them apart are the premium Wagyu beef menus that offer the same quality of meat as high-end restaurants but at a much more affordable price.
We recommend the A3 Wagyu Gyu Don (550 THB) which features a perfect cut of A3 Wagyu that is torched and wrapped around rice to resemble a miniature volcano (much like Mt. Fuji in Japan!). The cone is then topped with raw egg yolk and special cream sauce that goes very well with the meat.
There’s also the Ikura Don (490 THB) that comes overflowed with fresh salmon roe and uni. During lunchtime, you can also come around to find meals with popular items like Tonkatsu and Yakitori Don for only 99 THB a set. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then we recommend you finish off your meal with the Melon Sherbet (280 THB) made from fresh melons, and a small amount of syrup then served on a carved out melon skin.
The drinks menu here consists of all kinds of alcoholic beverages imported from Japan including beers, whiskey, wine, Soju, Umeshu, Sake, and Chuhai. If you’re looking to go all-out with your friends, we recommend the buffet option where you can enjoy all the drinks you can for up to 3 hours! There are three price options for you to choose from: 270 THB (includes only draught beers and soft drinks), 390 THB (includes draught beers, soft drinks, and Soju), and 490 THB (includes draught beers, soft drinks, Sake, wine, Soju, and whiskey with soda.
Location: 3rd Floor, Arena 10, Soi Thonglor 10
Nearest BTS Station: Thonglor
Hours:Every day 11.30 - 02.00