|BANGKOK POST Issued date 11 March 2016|
| STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKA APICHATSAKOL
10am-10pm 3/F CentralWorld fb.com/boteyathailand 085-565-2514
The quiet end of CentralWorld is making a comeback, with the renovation of Isetan's supermarket and the opening of a few new Japanese chains such as Boteya. Located right outside Isetan on the mall's third floor, this ready-to-eat teppan restaurant is quite secluded from the main hub of eateries at CentralWorld, but nevertheless catches your eye with its edgy, dark interior. As a stylish yet commercial diner, the layout is refreshingly simple. Through the large, open front, you can see that there are just two neat rows of tables leading to an open kitchen in back. No dividers, no mirror illusions or cheesy symbols of Japan -just clean, chic and modern simplicity.
Specialising in the fine art of the Japanese grill, Boteya is more than just another teppan. The concept here is to bring to the table the best grilled dishes from each of Japan's prefectures, so prepare to be enlightened. The Roasted pork & egg rice bowl (B220) and Donabe karubi pork (B280), for instance, offer a new angle to the notion of Japanese rice bowl. The two are the respective local specialties of Ehime and Hokkaido, and you can think of them as Japanese variations of our khao moo krob . The Roasted pork features pork belly, thinly sliced and layered between rice and smouldering eggs. The grilled karubi, or short ribs, on the other hand, offers more texture and juiciness, marinated in its own soy sauce-based gravy.
If you're not sure about these unfamiliar regional delicacies, no one will judge you for going for a classic, such as yakisoba, of which there are at least four options. Though the Premium mixed tsukimi yakisoba (B290) loaded with all the goods - beef, pork, seafood and egg - seems like the obvious choice, the Yakisoba with ripe tomato meat sauce (B270) is an interesting twist worth a try.
As Boteya is a franchise under the established Osaka-based Botejyu Group, it's not a cliche to say that a 70-year heritage is a key ingredient in the food. The Botejyu Group was the first Japanese producer of mayonnaise, specifically white mayo, and what would Japanese "soul food" such as okonomiyaki and takoyaki be without the mayo? At Boteya, the signature condiment can also be found in the Caesar salad with thick bacon and onsen tamago (B170) - albeit in overkill - and spread atop the glorious okosoba.
A portmanteau for okonomiyaki and yakisoba, okosoba is a popular Kansai invention colloquially known as the "modern yaki". If we could pick only one dish to sum up the essence of Boteya, this saucey enlightenment of a savoury pancake would be it. By all means, you should get the full monty: the Premium (B320).
Finish offyour meal with a light Tokyo milk pudding (B50), as the rich Rikyu green tea ice cream you crave has not yet arrived in Thailand.
As previously stated, the Botejyu Group has a remarkable brand history, founded in Osaka, in 1946. The wide serving bowls and considerably sizable portions aren't gimmicks to pull in budgeting foodies but genuine remnants of a post-war need to once again feel wholesome and well-fed.
Value & Verdict
I have a theory about restaurants in CentralWorld: The closer in proximity to Isetan, the more Japanese they are. It's a lot of pressure to live up to (assuming my theories matter to restauranteurs), but Boteya nevertheless hits the mark and then some. It's high time authentic Japanese cuisine that isn't sushi or ramen becomes more recognised, and we are also gratefully astounded that the price of real-deal Japanese "soul food" remains authentic - that is, affordable to all. G
Roasted pork & egg rice bowl.
Donabe karubi pork.
Caesar salad with thick bacon and onsen tamago.
Premium mixed tsukimi yakisoba.