Japanese food is not all about sushi, although it often feels that way. “Omakase” institutions which mostly serves sushi are seen as the pinnacle of opulence and freshness in Japanese cuisine, but there is little explored and appreciated in the way of authentic “Kappo” cuisine in Bangkok but it appears Chef Yamauchi of the new Kappo Yamauchi is here to challenge that.
Chef Yamauchi, was once Chef Masahiro Misaki’s mentor when Yamauchi worked in the kitchens of Aichiya in Yokohama Japan (1 Michelin Star) and- Kagurazaka Maeda in Tokyo Japan (Gault & Millau). At that time, Misaki was 21 years old and Yamauchi 31, but now, almost 2 decades later, Misaki has invited his counsel and friend to take over his kitchen at Rain Hill in Sukhumvit, Bangkok. The tiny 10 seater sushi -counter style restaurant has now been retitled in honour of its new master, “Kappo Yamauchi”.
Some say Kappo has roots tied with “Kaiseki ” cuisine, which comprises multi-course which are elaborately presented in a formal dining room, yet with Kappo, there is some essence of fun and informality of Isakaya found somewhere in between. Dishes, like in Omakase are mostly served as singular bites and one by one, but for Kaiseki and Kapppo, hot dishes are sizzling hot and the cold are cold dishes are icy cold. Our first dish came out piping hot, like..cauldron bubbling hot, a surprise for first-timer Kappo diners like ourselves who are half expecting the classic fresh fish and rice morsel presented as the first plate.
Chef Yamauchi served up Monkfish liver (Ankimo) and Yomogi stew. Yomogi is known as Mugwort in English, an aromatic flowering plant. Chef mixes gluten and wheat to create an amazing fluffy marshmallow textured cube which is served with light soy sauce dashi soup. Mind already blown, palate already scorched after the first dish and we’re anticipating what else Yamuachi has up his crisp, white sleeves.
And he didn’t disappoint, with a surprising dish of fantastically marbled A5 Wagyu, 2 day-aged Steak which is finely filleted then only very delicately grilled to release the full aroma and Umami of the Wagyu. This method is known as “Tataki” and it is truly beautiful to behold watching Chef Yamauchi at work. As for the taste, we would say it’s a cross between a beef Sashimi and English roast beef, except this Japanese ‘roasted beef’ is served with amazingly fresh Wasabi.
The following dish of Ayu (sweetfish) is Chazuke Stewed Ayu with sweet sauce, served with clear Dashi soup and a small amount of rice has so much intensity in flavour balanced by the depth and smoothness of the rice and soup. It’s a party of umami flavours. Ayu is one of the most limited seasonal ingredients from Japan in the Autumn season and therefore may only be appreciated within a 2 weeks time frame.
One other showstopper, a seasonal Autumn season dish in Japan (only available for 2 weeks, in fact) is the female snow crab with all edible parts. This tiny crab requires meticulous painstaking work and when all that preciousness is in front of you – trust me – you will want to savour her every bit. Get the camera ready also, apart from the sensational freshness, brilliant colours, arrangement and textures, it is certainly one for the gram.
At Koppo Yamauchi, more eye-openers continue as Chef Yamauchi prepares a tray filled with an assortment of exotic goodies. Kappo Yamauchi Assorted Appetizer consists of; Grilled tuna’s head, Yuba with a silky sauce, Pumpkin tofu with walnut sauce, Vinegared seaweed (Mozuku) with Ikura and Cod roe (Mentaiko) marinated with seaweed kelp-based Dashi.
These 5 mini dishes are somehow reminiscent of some favourite Isakaya meals, if they were concentrated into one or two bites. Moreover, these mini meals pair beautifully with sake and/or beer and this style of “all-sides” eating, provides the feeling of fun and joviality than some of your typical uptight Omakase meal setting.
Ironically, the Koppo meal at Koppo Yamauchi does finish with an assortment of fine sushi; Sushi Section (6 pieces); Bluefin Tuna (Maguro), Maguro Akami, Maguro Chutoro, Botan Ebi, Maguro head part and Uni.
The sushi, rather than an obligation, comes as a delightful treat, when following the eclectic mix of Koppo style dishes and then the hot soup following was close to my absolute favourite part of the meal. Chef Yamauchi’s Silky seaweed (Kombu) dashi soup could not be compared to any others that I’ve experienced. Silky being the operative word and also the motivation to encourage you to try it for yourself.
Lastly, for Chef Yamauchi, the final ceremony of the meal is created with a wooden tool which extrudes sweet potato paste out like spaghetti, then tops it with a single warm chestnut. You may not believe it at first but for Koppo cuisine, you are likely to be well and truly full and content, but as they say, there’s always room for dessert.
Now truly a fan of authentic, fine Koppo cuisine, we suggest you open your minds and mouths to something unique that has arrived in Bangkok, Chef Yamauchi of Koppo Yamauchi may not be able to communicate through a common spoken language but discerning foodies will be able to interpret how wonderfully special and refreshing the experience is by giving it a try.
Kappo Yamauchi 6,000++ Menu 10 Nov 2021
Price: 4000++ & 6000++
割烹山内 Kappo Yamauchi
1F Rain Hill, 777 Sukhumvit 47 Alley, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110
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