The first time we wandered, starving, into the Gateway Ekkamai location of Tadaima, we were confused. There weren’t prices next to any of the dishes on the menu. We didn’t realize the number “88” that figures in much of their signage refers to the price — of everything on the menu.
Once we figured out how this this little gem of a Japanese restaurant and izakaya works, we loved it. There’s sushi and all kinds of seafood on the menu, too, not just the typical bottom shelf stuff like edamame and cold tofu (though they have those too). There are more than 100 items on the menu from udon, to yakitori, to salmon’s head in soy sauce (though we didn’t try it). And yes, each and every one of these dishes goes for THB88 (US$2.7) apiece.
Even better? The booze is mostly THB88, too. Among them: a Lychee Sour, Oolong Tea Shouchu, Cassis Cocktail, or just a glass of soju, whisky, or umeshu (plum liqueur). If you’re feeling a bit more spendy, then an Asahi draft goes for THB98. They also have a menu of pricier booze by the bottle and glass.
This mini-chain also has a location in the basement of Eight Thonglor and one in MBK Center, but that one has a different concept, offering an all-you-can-eat (and drink!) buffet that gets mixed reviews online. We prefer being able to stop in and order our dishes a la carte, and having just one or two items if we’re just making it a snack, as we often are.
Over several visits, we’ve tried many menu items, but have a few favorites that get ordered no matter what.
The Fresh Spicy Salmon is five nicely sized strips of raw salmon served over lettuce and drenched in a version of Thai seafood sauce. Admittedly, it’s not very Japanese, but it is spicy, fresh, and delicious.
The Tuna Spicy Don is enough for a simple lunch on its own. A bowl of sticky sushi rice covered in chunks of raw tuna and drenched with spicy mayo before being sprinkled with green onion and sesame seeds for crunch — yum.
We’re also big fans of the Stir Fried Squid, served in a spicy chili and butter sauce with a bit of green onion for color.
For some heavier dishes, such as Japanese Curry Rice, we find standard portions too large — you neither want to leave any behind because it’s so delicious, but you don’t want to finish it for fear of lapsing into a food coma before you leave the restaurant. Though the Tadaima portion is considered a mini, it’s actually probably the size we should be eating of the rich, comforting dish.
The sushi is tasty. While you aren’t gonna get innovation in the rolls or quality on the level of, say, Isao, it’s done well for the price. You’ve got your standard spicy tuna roll, shrimp roll, salmon avocado roll, and California roll, but plus a few interesting ones like flamed salmon cheese sushi, mackerel, and Stimpson surf clam.
The Japanese Omu Rice is the correct order for any friend in your group that’s already had too many budget highballs and need to eat something before you send them home in a cab.
We find the value at this izakaya to be pretty darn good and a great place for snacks, or to start an evening. The atmosphere is more utilitarian than homey and the mall locations don’t make you want to stay forever, though the wood and paper lanterns are more welcoming than some budget eateries.
The menu selection consists of simple, straightforward Japanese-inspired fare, and true to izakaya form, the dishes are great when sipped with beer. Or you can skip the food altogether and just take advantage of their well-priced booze.
Gateway Ekkamai (Mezzanine level)
982/22 Sukhumvit R.d
Open daily, 11am-10pm