One of the first Japanese restaurants to stake its claim in Saigon, The eponymously named The Sushi Bar is a master of what it specialises in — authentic Japanese sushi.
First opened in 1999 by Nagoya-born Mr. Nagai Shigemasa, who learnt his trade in kitchens in Osaka, The Sushi Bar started off as a modest outlet on Le Thanh Ton in Saigon’s Little Japan neighbourhood. However, as the restaurant started gaining popularity due to its high-quality sushis, sashimis and set meals, the demand got larger and new outlets were opened.
As of today, The Sushi Bar is 18 years old and has a total of eight outlets: six in Ho Chi Minh City, one in Binh Duong and even one in Da Nang.
This is a venue that has an extensive menu that includes bentos, rice and noodle dishes and various kinds of sushis, including Sushi Bar originals as well as assorted traditional sushi and sashimi options. If you’re not too sure what you want to get, The Sushi Bar will definitely have something for you.
In terms of ambience, The Sushi Bar resembles the Sushi bars you would find in Japan with just the right amount of space to move about and an interior that allows you to feel like you’re in Tokyo or Osaka, and not in Saigon.
It’s also probably one of the few Japanese restaurants where you’ll find a healthy mix of both Japanese expats and entire Vietnamese families at the dining tables.
It can get pretty crowded on weekdays but you should still be able to have a conversation with the person you’re enjoying your meal with, without having to repeat yourself.
The Sushi Bar is popular for their assorted sushi and sashimi sets. Here you’ll get a nice mix of colours and tastes that’s enough to fill you up for the day. If you want something unique, THE SUSHI BAR original dishes are worth checking out too. The Negi Sake Toro Maki Tempura (deep fried fatty salmon and spring onion rolls) is a pretty interesting choice.
For those who like their sushis rolled, the Ika Shio Kara Gunkan Sushi (salted raw squid gunkan sushi), Hotate Mentaiko Temaki (scallop and cod egg with chili hand roll) and Shako Tobi Mayo Temaki (mantis shrimp, fish roe with mayonnaise hand roll) are highly recommended.
Tip: The purpose of the pickled pink ginger slices that come with the sushi is to help you clear your palette. Take a slice right after you finish each sushi so you can fully enjoy the taste of the next one.
According to TripAdvisor, The Sushi Bar scores 3.5/5, with most of the comments highlighting the slightly higher than average pricing and the quality of the staff, most of whom seemed cold towards the customers without the usual “irrashaimase” greetings you would expect from Japanese restaurants.
But that aside, most reviews favour the quality of the food in terms of its freshness, presentation and taste, with a decent drinks menu to boot.