The bustling bar scene in Bangkok’s Thonglor neighborhood recently welcomed a new spot that specializes in the clear-colored, rice-based booze from Japan: sake.
The cozy and intimate Yoshibar opened in February — we included the then fresh-faced venue in our list of six spots to sip on sake a couple of months ago, and recently returned to sit down with bar owner Yoshito Suzuki to learn about some of the more special stuff that he’s got stocked behind the bar.
Tucked inside the 9:53 Community Mall, the izakaya-style bar spans two floors and features simple decorations, natural wooden tables, a tiny ping pong table and Japanese snacks. A maneki-neko waves at guests from its perch on the bar counter. On the mezzanine level, tatami mats with colorful cushions are laid out.
“I don’t want a high-end bar. I only want to make everyone feel like home here,” said Suzuki.
Suzuki, 37, is originally from Tokyo and moved to Bangkok six years ago to work at a sake supplier company. He was also a former bar manager at Orihara Shoten Bangkok, the Ekkamai sake bar-slash-retail store that carries an impressive list of over 100 different types of sake.
He’s clearly passionate about the national drink of his home country, but according to Suzuki, that’s not his only motivation for having opened his own bar — he said he also wants to expand knowledge and appreciation for sake among Thai society.
Although it’s often referred to as “Japanese rice wine,” sake is actually closer to beer since it’s made from rice and goes through a similar brewing process to beer wherein starches get converted into sugars, and then fermented into alcohol.
Yoshibar sells sake by glass or by the bottle, and the daily menu list is handwritten on two chalkboards by the bar. Most of the sake ranges from THB200 to THB320 for a glass of 90ml, or you can mix and match them for THB690 (three 60ml glasses).
If you’re a sake noob, don’t be shy — Suzuki is happy to help customers with choosing the right drink based on each person’s preferences. He even has infographics to visually present types of sake categorized by aroma, flavor and temperature.
Asked which drinks are his favorites, Suzuki pointed to no. 2 on the blackboard — Yuki No Bosha Yamahai Junmai. This particular sake, with 15-percent alcohol content, leans on the richer, heavier side of the flavor spectrum, with an earthy aroma and very smooth finish.
“It’s complex and crisp. I can continue drinking this one for a long time,” Suzuki said.
In the months since its opening, the bar has been growing in popularity — not only among Japanese customers, but also Thais and foreigners. Suzuki said that many of them like to come in for drinks and some grub after a long day at work.
As for the food, the tiny kitchen at Yoshibar offers a variety of homey Japanese tapas such as omakase oden (THB200 for five pieces) and homemade pan-fried gyoza dumplings (THB160). For bigger plates, there’s also the ooba pasta, or pesto pasta made with shiso leaves (THB240). Note, all prices at Yoshibar already include a 7-percent value-added tax (VAT).
Every Saturday, the venue hosts different kinds of events to celebrate sake, food, art and more. In June, an event series dubbed “Sake + Sound” arrived at the bar for a blast of specialty sake, upbeat electronic music and stylish Japanese fashion. And it was just last week when Yoshibar joined forces with Jua, an upscale izakaya in Charoen Krung area, to bring an evening of alcohol, food and music to Thonglor.
Yoshibar is open from 6pm until late every day except Monday. It is located inside 9:53 Community Mall, between Soi Sukhumvit 53 and Thonglor 9, and it’s best reached by motorbike from BTS Thong Lo.
Yoshibar is at 9:53 Community Mall, Soi Sukhumvit 53 and Soi Thonglor 9, Wattana, Bangkok
Open 6pm-1am daily, closed Mon
Phone: +662 115 2944
BTS: Thong Lo
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