A lot of people think of Japan as cherry blossoms, high tech robots, bullet trains, vending machines (selling used panties?), sumo and sushi. Probably something that most people who have never been to Japan think of is the traditional and amazing ‘Japanese breakfast’ that is a staple throughout the country. Consisting of a fresh bowl of steamed rice, miso soup, pickles and normally with a piece of grilled fish, this breakfast is not only great tasting but by and large a healthy way to start your day. Lucky for me my dad spent a few years in Japan in the 70′s and his love of this style of breakfast transferred back to Canada and onto our plates on many a Sunday morning.
On the ground floor of the Serm-Mit Tower on Asoke Road (actually right across the street from Big Mama’s Pizza on Asoke soi 1) you will find a small restaurant called ‘Frienz’ that was recommended to me a few years back by my neighbour Tomoko. The decor is typical Nippon Minimalist with the obligatory rack of cartoon books for the single salary man. The smoothly run kitchen is clearly not run by a Thai and the waitresses can converse with the guests fairly well in Japanese. A few weeks back we made a rare weekday lunch trip (the restaurant was 90% full by 12:00pm) and I noticed on the menu that they did a Japanese breakfast. I was pretty excited to know that I could now get my ‘soul food’ a few hundred meters from home and made plans to come here the following Saturday.
My breakfast set (THB 200 / $7 all prices include the service charge but not the 7% VAT) came with grilled salty salmon, rice, miso soup, a side dish of pork, a few pickles and a serving of natto. Natto is one of my dad’s favorite breakfast dishes and it is something I have tried many times but have still yet to acquire the taste for it. If you are the kind of person that likes food that other people think has spoiled then you will love this very uniquely gooey dish. I found the piece of salmon a bit on the small side but it was nice and salty and paired perfectly with the fresh rice. One thing we both didn’t care for was the side dish of pork which we found quite dry, however the side dishes change from day to day and usually there are a lot more hits than misses.
CB is the ultimate noodle lover and even though it was breakfast she went with the goma udon set (THB 200 / $7). The udon salad was served with fresh vegetables, boiled eggs and a cold sesame sauce to poor on your salad or dip your noodles into. I found the noodles a bit on the chewy side but CB said she prefer a firm noodle instead of a limp noodle. Her set included a dish of spinach topped with bonito fish flakes (strange but good) and a nice pair of inarizushi rolls which were sweet but not too sweet.
The service is not overly friendly but the girls are very efficient and always looking to refill your drink or clear your table. The opposite of most places in Thailand that include a 10% service charge while giving minimal service, the service at Frienz is above average and they don’t charge 10% for the privilege. With the exception of a few select lunch sets the standard price for a set here is THB 200 / $7 and for this price you get either hot or cold green tea to start, unlimited perfectly cooked rice, bottom less miso soup and a hot or iced coffee at the end of the meal. Unlike the sub-standard warm food served at chain restaurants, the food at Frienz is served at a Japanese standard and similar to the old school McDLT where the hot food comes out hot, the cold food comes out cold and the taste is much closer to Japan than it is to Bangkok. If you are in the Asoke/Sukhumvit area and thinking about having reasonably priced Japanese food, skip the fake food at Oishi or Fuji and go to a place that serves original Japanese food for practically the same price.
*Bonus* check out the youtube link of Jason Alexander promoting the McDLT a few years back.
Frienz Japanese Dining Bar
159/5 Serm-Mit Tower Unit SG8-10, Sukhumvit 21 Rd.(Asoke),
Klongtoey-Nua, Wattana,, Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Monday – Friday:
Lunch 11:30AM – 2PM
Dinner 5PM – 11PM (Last order 10:30PM)
Saturday & Holiday:
Lunch 11:30AM – 2PM
Dinner 5PM – 10:30PM (Last order 10PM)