[Review] The Grill Tokyo
I adore Bangkok’s diverse and devoted eating culture. I like the unpretentious 20 baht noodles I can get down the street from my apartment, and I like that on the same block I can get something entirely pretentious that costs two order of magnitude more, and both will be delicious. I like the fresh fruit, I like the congenial atmosphere of the mid-range Thai restaurants, I like the local versions of Chinese and Japanese and Indian foods that I can get the same-but-different in the US. I like that exotic and morally problematic foods like shark’s fin inspire entire rows of restaurants devoted to their consumption.
The first time I ever set food in the food court at Siam Paragon, I wandered around and read the menu at every single food stall and restaurant, engaging in an odd sort of food voyeurism and strategizing future eating excursions. Afterwards, I compiled a list of ten things that really caught my attention:
- Shark’s fin
- Bird’s nest
- Steak and kidney pie
- Beard papa’s cream puffs
- Marbled horse (raw)
- Squid ink tagliatelli
- Fois gras
- Kentucky fried chicken
When my friend Steve visited for a couple days, I finally had a partner in crime to help me tackle some of the things on that list. Cream puffs fueled a couple hours of shopping (ok browsing), but once it was time for dinner, we decided to aim for the horse and the whale. This brought us to The Grill Tokyo, just a little bit down the hall from the huge food court, for a little “Japanese urban dining” or something like that.
It’s pricey (we spent about 2000 baht, with drinks), the sort of thing I would only do on a special occasion, but honestly, well worth it. The style is modern, but warm, and quiet, and freakin’ luxurious. We stuck to sushi and sashimi, and every thing we ordered was beautifully presented, perfectly fresh, simple, and like, the Platonic ideal of what that thing should be.
A plateful of specials (with an inexplicable pile of mealy-looking tomatoes teetering on the side) was explained to us, in great detail, as soon a we sat down. Actually seeing the pile of fresh seafood makes it very very hard to say no to any of it, but asking the price makes the job easier. We ordered the scallop sashimi, which did not disappoint.
Really fresh scallop tastes delicately sweet. I loved this, but I already love scallop. The yellowtail was also very good yellowtail, but again, I already really like yellowtail. The remarkable thing was that I actually loved the tuna, which I usually consider to be boring. This tuna melted, instead of having the sort of overly-lean texture I’m used to encountering.
The fact that the restaurant served both horse and whale (raw, as sashimi or nigiri) was what brought us in there, drawn in by the appeal of trying something entirely new. While the scallop was my personal favorite, the whale was Steve’s, followed closely by the horse. We’d basically walked in daring each other to eat something from my list, but in the end, the most memorable thing about that dinner was just that the taste, texture, and presentation of the food was really, really, endorphin-producingly good.