Turning Japanese: Shio eating blends East and West

Editor’s Note: Permanently Closed.

COCONUTS CRITIC’S TABLE – The newest kid on the Sukhumvit 49 block, Shio Yoshoku Café and Restaurant, stands up to some tough competition. Not only is Shio one of many bright and shiny dining spots to pop up recently on this soi, it’s also joining the ranks of Bangkok’s rapidly expanding Japanese food scene.

Shio specializes in yoshoku, a type of cooking that originated in Japan during the Meiji era. Basically, it’s Western dishes prepared with a Japanese interpretation. One of the restaurant’s owners, Yada Ruangsukudom, is a graduate of Tokyo’s well-known Hattori Nutrition College… yes, run by the same Dr. Hattori who’s a commentator on Iron Chef. So, needless to say, I turned up at Shio’s doors with some pretty high expectations.

From the outside, this restaurant can look a little intimidating. The massive glass window reveals a sleek and minimalistic interior, consisting of grey and white walls, and deeper grey couches. The scenery is dimly lit, only accented by white tablecloths and wine glasses.

Upon stepping inside, I found the atmosphere was actually pretty easygoing and not too stiff and uptight. The restaurant is quite big with only a handful of seated tables. More than one staff member rushed to greet us, seat us and get us all set up.

There’s a lot happening on this menu, from pastas and steaks to rice and stir-fried dishes. The majority of the food is essentially Western. For example, the soups include mushroom cappuccino (THB220) and cabbage rolls in tomato (THB230). Despite this, the Japanese yoshoku touch is apparent in others, for example the salmon carpaccio with ponzu sauce (THB320) and the Kurobuta steak (THB 440). What I really appreciated was how the menu presented photographs of every dish and drink, right down to the coffees and juices.

The salmon steak (THB480) is smooth and tender, served up with a choice of teriyaki or cream sauce. While Western dishes can easily err on the side of heaviness, this yoshoku set is balanced perfectly with light vegetables like squash, mushroom and mashed potatoes whipped to perfection. Western dishes also tend to come in over-zealous portions, and for me this was just the right amount.

This is an example of how the yoshoku concept works, taking the best from both East and West. However, where the salmon steak succeeded, the macaroni gratin was (THB340) is less impressive. Bits of bacon, shrimps and mushroom chunks make for the starting points of a savory dish, but there was something unexciting about the sauce. A dish like macaroni gratin is made to be heavenly and creamy to a sinful degree, and the flavors just aren’t fully satisfying unless they go all the way.

The best menu item overall turned out to be the first one on the table – the calamari appetizer. A good calamari is hard to come by (seafood lovers will attest) and this one was seriously scrumptious. The squid was only lightly fried, making the soft and juicy inside much more pronounced. The Japanese tartar sauce, made in-house, is fresh, tangy and just a little sweet. To me, this is always the true test of a Japanese restaurant’s character, whether or not they make their own sauces. It can make all a world of difference in taste and in this case, you can bet that little sauce bowl was wiped clean.

The presentation of all these dishes is very thoughtful, and offers one area in which the yoshoku influence really stands out.

Shio features a beautiful bar, backlit in blue against the grey and white walls, as its centerpiece. So it only makes sense that the drink menu be rather involved, with a selection of wines and beer, and even white and red sangria. However, when it came down to ordering a cocktail, it was a little difficult. The menu explains what’s inside the dishes very well, but there is no description of the signature cocktails and ingredients. While the staff made great recommendations on the meal, they had trouble explaining the drinks and had to ask around amongst themselves in order to come up with details. I ordered the Japanese Ume mojito on a whim, and it turned out to be delicious. It’s a true-blue mojito with great balance – not too much soda, not too sweet and just the right sprucing of mint leaves. With better explanation of the drinks, I would have definitely tried a couple more, particularly the martinis, which included a Fuji apple concoction.

Dinner at Shio didn’t blow me away, but it was enjoyable. What I remember more than the food is the friendliness and attentiveness of the servers. With the ubiquity of Japanese restaurants in Bangkok these days, this provides reason enough to see what yoshoku is all about.

Shio Yoshoku Restaurant and Café
127 Sukhumvit 49/3
Hours: 11:00am – 10:30pm daily
Lunch sets available daily from 11am – 2:30pm

View Larger Map

Photos: Barbara Woolsey

Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on