Tucked away at the end of a winding hem in the heart of the Japanese-influenced Le Thanh Ton street in Saigon, you’ll find Gyumaru Hamburg & Steak, an authentic Japanese steakhouse specialising in beautifully simple hamburger steaks, juicy and decadent hamburgers and pretty much every other grillable beef product, all served piping hot with a smile. If you’re in the mood for meat, this is the place for you.
Amidst the flurry of more traditional Japanese fare dotting Le Thanh Ton and the adjoining hems, Gyumaru, at first, might seem like a bit of an oddity. After all, how does a wagyu ribeye steak fit in with the sushi, ramen and clean eating that the Land of the Rising Sun is known for?
However, as soon as you approach the door, you immediately see that Japanese cuisine is more than just these traditional expectations. Before you even walk through the front door, you’re greeted with a large light projection on the ground with the silhouette of a bull’s face in the middle – kind of a Batman signal alerting anyone who walks by that this is the place to go for beef. If you’re drawn in by this – and you should be – your assumption will be confirmed.
However, the setup of Gyumaru isn’t the classical steakhouse arrangement you would find in the west. The atmosphere isn’t stuffy and the furniture isn’t dour and heavy; instead, walking through the long hallway and passing the kitchen staff, who cook in plain sight behind glass windows, the dining area contains multiple levels and a variety of seating arrangements.
Depending on your tastes and the number of people in your party, you can sit at a booth or a conventional table. Our waiter also let us know that seating is available on the second floor, although we didn’t get a chance to take a look.
While Gyumaru has other items on its menu besides meat, it’s clear that if you’re a vegetarian, your options here are limited. A variety of high-quality sides abound, like salty, crispy french fries and roasted vegetables, but here the high-quality steaks, hamburger steaks and hamburgers are the stars of the show.
During our dinner at Gyumaru, we tried two dishes: the 100 percent Wagyu Gyumaru Hamburger with Ham and Egg (VND140,000 for the burger and VND10,000 to 20,000 for the additives) and the Gyumaru Cheese Wagyu Hamburg Steak (VND200,000). Both were excellent choices.
For starters, this hamburger was not a dainty burger. Smothered in sauce and dripping with juices, this is a burger that requires about three hand wipes at the end of the meal. There was something supremely decadent about layering a slice of ham on a thick hamburger patty and then plopping a fried egg on top of that, but we’re not complaining. It came with a side of fries, which were an excellent complement to the huge burger. We could only finish half of this dish.
The hamburg steak was slightly less lavish, but equally as good. The refined and controlled cousin to the freewheeling hamburger, the hamburger steak was presented to us hot and sizzling on a cast iron serving platter, accompanied by a small heap of wilted spinach, roasted potatoes and sweet glazed carrots. The cheese on this hamburger steak was melted and contoured around the meat, and it all came with a small side salad and a ramekin of steak sauce. All around, it was a high-quality meal without being uncomfortably fancy.
People simply love this place. On Gyumaru’s Facebook page this restaurant holds an astoundingly high 4.5 star rating with 69 reviews, and on TripAdvisor 68 percent of reviewers have rated it “Excellent”. The things people love most? The food and the service. Most people agree that the servers at Gyumaru are smart, compassionate and extremely good at their jobs. When you pair this with amazing food and a laidback atmosphere, you have a recipe for a good lunch or dinner.
People don’t only come here for the steaks: the salads are good, too. The spinach and caesar salads are well-regarded, if you want a lighter dinner.