Across a quiet road from the exclusive Dhara Dhevi spa, not far from Chiang Mai’s Promenada resort mall, is a singular establishment called Tengoku de Cuisine. Stepping into this fine Japanese restaurant is like stepping into the private courtyard of an Edo period ryokan, or inn, and there is a sense of leaving the present day behind. Traditional red chochin lanterns hang from wooden eaves. The eye-catching centrepiece of the courtyard is a bronze and metal sculpture of the legendary lónggui, a mythical dragon-turtle which symbolizes power, courage, determination and longevity. Tengoku de Cuisine is a collection of intimate, individual dining spaces with its lovely tree-lined courtyard as a focal point.

Japanese cuisine is famed for its freshness and delicacy and for the beauty of its presentation, and the seafood served here at Tengoku de Cuisine is air-flown directly from Japan every three days. The sashimi platter is a beautiful still life of the finest salmon, maguro tuna and Hamachi yellowtail, served with a freshly-ground wasabi horseradish mustard.

House specialties at Tengoku de Cuisine are its wonderful marinated wasabi plant – roots, bark and all – as pungent and fiery as the traditional ground wasabi, and the restaurant’s own-recipe delicately flavored shoyu soy sauce, brewed in-house from the chef’s own recipe.

Sushi and sashimi selections on the menu reflect the finest of Japanese seafood, and traditional menu mainstays can be found here: the ivory white of a sweet hotate scallop, the muted ochre of uni sea urchin roe, and the deep red of an otoro tuna belly.

An unusual treat, also air flown from Japan, is the snowy engawa flounder’s edge sushi – the buttery textured fish, brushed with miso to accentuate the delicacy of its flavour, is unbelievably sweet and succulent.

Apart from the marvellous selection of seafood, there are also other offerings, and each dish as delectable as the next. Don’t miss the sweetly smoky flavour of the Natsudengaku grilled aubergine with miso sauce, served in its own purple, teardrop-shaped earthenware bowl, or the delicate slices of Australian ribeye beef tataki, served with garlic and a fine pongsu sauce.

The stir-fried beef sutamina is delicious, as is the wonderful foie gras ‘sushi’ – the deep earthy flavor of the foie gras, drizzled with a jus reduction, marries perfectly with the delicately vinegared sushi rice. The ebi prawn and vegetable tempura is also outstanding, its batter light and delicate yet – the true test of a good tempura batter – holds together when dunked into its delicious dipping sauce with grated daikon white radish. A fresh salad, dressed with three varieties of seaweed, is the perfect accompaniment, a grace note to the delicacies on the table. And to make your meal complete, Tengoku de Cuisine also serves fine sakes by Hakushika, a brewery established in Japan in 1662.

The restaurant is a little distance out from the old city of Chiang Mai, but for lovers of fine Japanese cuisine, this place is definitely an experience not to be missed. It is no surprise that Tengoku de Cuisine has consistently won accolades and has been included in lists such as Tatler’s Thailand’s Best Restaurants, year after year.

Written By Sehra, E-Table Asia In Chiang Mai