Menus are so important and so hard to do well. In Bangkok there’s a giant spectrum of shitty menus which seems to range from encyclopedia britannica sized collections of some variation of Thai chili and e-coli, to the other end of the spectrum, these fancy ass menus you need a membership to bullipedia to read.
You know them because they often look like this:
fennel / remoulade / shoe leather / crystal meth
So there is this delicate balance to strike between under-informing and overwhelming guests. Bangkok hasn’t really figured it out, it’s going to be big in the next coming season where we have fine dining institutions popping up on every corner (The shortlist: Savelberg, L’Atelier, J’aime). But that’s a rant for another day, today we’re kicking back with strange Japanese food at Kinjo Okinawan restaurant.
Here’s a place where you’ll slap someone’s hand if they try and remove the menu. However, I’ll say right off that I don’t like everything served at Kinjo. And y’know, it doesn’t matter. It’s strange… it challenges me, it’s familiar somehow, and it’s well enough explained (thanks to the menu) to make me curious. Also having spent some time in Okinawa, I do like to come here to reminisce or hug a cold Asahi when I can’t decide where to dine. But more fun than hanging out here alone amongst the retro Japanese posters, videos of Okinawan TV in decades past, and traditional Okinawan music on repeat, is bringing friends to Kinjo’s little Okinawan food playground.
When you have a little crew with you it’s easier to venture beyond the hearty Okinawan soba (think of a plain, pork filled ramen-like broth with heavy wheat based noodles). The so-called soba is most attractive because of it’s tender pork belly, which to everyone’s delight you can also order as an individual plate. When you come here enough to get beyond the menu’s fantastic pork (a difficult task) and you can avoid venturing towards the obviously American influenced dishes like taco rice or pork onigiri (aka spam musubi), you’re in for all kinds of weird, interesting, and sometimes tasty rewards.
Start out easy with stir fried bitter gourd (goya chanpuru), grab some sea grapes (umi budo) if they’re available, and if you’re game jump on a plate of tofuyu or fermented Okinawan tofu which comes topped with miniature sardine-like sukugarasu fish and squid guts. Wash it all down with lots of sake and even Kinjo’s version of yakisoba.
Also of interest on the drink list is the Awamori, a refined Okinawan descendent of lao khao (Thai rice wine) they drink straight or mix in simple cocktails. Never heard of it? Don’t worry you can develop a quick appreciation of this spirit by reading the entire page of the menu dedicated to explaining it!
Sidenote: If you pay attention to the menu you may have notice they love Awamori so much they’ve infused it with chili to make “Koregusu,” which is used to spice up your noodles.
Finally the service is friendly, it’s located a short walk from the Phra Kanong BTS on Sukhumvit 69, and if you’re a quick study it’s a great place to experience a slice of Okinawa!
Kinjo Okinawan Restaurant – ร้านอาหารโอกินาวา คินโจ
LOCATION AND HOURS:
Address: 24/1 Sukhumvit soi 69
Directions: Jump off the BTS at Phra Kanong and wonder into soi 69 looking for for Kinjo on the right side. The restaurant has two levels of seating. Better call ahead for suggestions on parking.
Phone Number: 027 110 536
Hours: Mon – Sun: 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Price Range: 200 – 500 THB per person
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kinjo.okinawa/