Isao: The Best Sushi in Bangkok?

Yeah, that’s right. KohSpot is calling Isao, a small, reasonably priced, increasingly popular sushi joint near the bak soi of Sukhumvit 31 the best sushi venue in Bangkok. Oh no you didn’t! Oh yes we did!

KohSpot realizes that sushi is one of the few experiences in life where you usually get what you pay for, which is similar to electronics, organic food and marijuana: price = quality. In the Sushi world this means there is bound to be several hotel restaurants that serve tantalizingly delicious sushi for outrageous prices. But Isao has to be the best value for money, making it harder to find a seat at this small restaurant. Elbow room only.

Don’t worry, everything is still calm and relaxing and inspired by traditional Japanese tranquility as you enter the door. The restaurant has a sushi bar where you can watch the chefs diligently go about their business, mostly in stoic silence.

The most popular dish is the deserving sushi sandwich (300 baht), adding some much-needed crunch to the sushi world with a tempura coating over tuna and salmon mixed with onion, seaweed and a dab of mayo. Another sushi winner is the spicy salmon, which is chopped and served with their ‘special sauce’.

Isao does have bargain lunch sets such as the salmon teriyaki for 200 baht that include miso soup, salad and fruit, but you really need to focus on the sushi and sashimi here. The tuna is actually flown in from Japan and costs 550 baht per sashimi serving, but that rich purple hue cannot be found in Thai fish. Add to your carbon foot print and chow down!

KohSpot usually insists on sake with sushi, as they pair so nicely, but do yourself a favor and try the green tea at Isao—it’s the best in Bangkok. Bold claim? Yes. Can we back it up? Of course! The man who acted as a consultant for Isao worked at Green Tea Japanese restaurant in Chicago and has honed his knowledge of the ancient ritual of fine tea tasting over several decades. The tea is fresh and soothing not sweet and sugary. Made from leaves and not a powder, other restaurants in the Big Mango could really learn something from this brew.

Isao calls itself a Japanese fusion restaurant and there are some interesting flourishes on the menu such as the Volcano, a baked scallop in a spicy, creamy sauce. Most items on the menu leave a real smooth finish on the palate, including the gomaae, a cylinder of blanched spinach topped with sesame seeds in a pool of sweet peanut sauce. Awesome.

KohSpot is not usually one for reservations, but if your party is larger than two and you’re going during peak lunch or dinner time, call ahead to avoid disappointment.

Location: 5 Sukhumvit Soi 31, 150 meters from Sukhumvit Road.
BTS: Phrom Pong
Hours: Monday to Friday 11 am-2:30 pm, 5:30 pm-10pm, weekends 11 am-10 pm
Phone: 02-258-0645-6

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