Gyumaru Hamburg & Steak: American Cuisine Going Japanese
When you think of Japanese cuisine, a few things probably come to mind: clean-cut sushi, for example, or a steaming bowl of ramen. Well, get ready, dear reader, for a completely different Japanese cuisine experience. At Gyumaru Hamburg & Steak, beef is king. This authentic Japanese hamburger steak restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City prides itself on providing customers with a decadent, meat-laden dining experience. Order up!
One of the best things about living in Ho Chi Minh City is discovering hidden gems tucked away in alleyways, far from Saigon’s madding crowd. Once I turned off the busy Le Thanh Ton into this small side street, I immediately found myself ambling past Japanese bars and restaurants that line the narrow path.
Stepping inside the restaurant, I was met with a cosy space completely enclosed from the outside world. There’s not much natural light; instead, there’s an underground atmosphere, and the distinct feeling that you’re entering a steakhouse, but with a casual vibe.
The lighting is low, and I walked through a narrow hallway to reach the main dining area. This is a restaurant that could work for a business dinner (there was one at the table next to mine) as well as a family night.
The service is a plus at Gyumaru. All of the waiters seemed young, knowledgeable and exceedingly polite. Throughout the meal I sometimes saw them talking amongst each other rather than focusing on diners, but whenever I wanted something, it was easy to catch a server’s eye, and they immediately hurried over to my table with a genuine smile, eager to help.
Ordering was an easy process, even though the English-speaking skills of my waiter weren’t perfect. I was able to communicate my food and drink, and everything came to my table quickly. No problems there.
Food & Drink
Let me just be upfront about one thing: if you’re a vegetarian, this might not be the place for you. If the sight of a steak brings tears to your eyes, there are plenty of other restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City that are more suited for your sensibilities. However, if your ideal dinner is good, lean beef and lots of it, give this place a chance.
Here was my dinner:
100% Wagyu Gyumaru Hamburger with Ham and Egg (VND 140,000 for the burger; VND 10,000-20,000 for additives): Oh my! Hailing from America, I’ve seen my share of burgers, but I’ve never seen a burger quite like this one. Smothered in sauce, dripping with cheese, this burger was a lot of things (delicious, first and foremost), but it wasn’t subtle. I should note that this exact burger is not on the menu. I told the waiter, “Bring me whatever you recommend,” and with a wink he brought me what I now refer to as The Behemoth. Fortunately, you, too, can create this burger by simply adding the ham and egg options. Your tastebuds will thank you. Along with the burger I received a side of french fries (not too many were served, but they were salty and delicious) and a side salad.
Gyumaru Cheese Wagyu Hamburg Steak (VND 200,000): This was my first experience with a Japanese hamburger steak, and I wasn’t disappointed. I could hear this dish before I could see it: it arrived on a cast-iron plate and was still sizzling from the grill. Along with the steak (served on a bed of bean sprouts), I got a few wedges of seasoned potatoes, a satisfying pile of wilted spinach and a tastefully sweet chunk of glazed carrot to round everything out. The real star here, of course, was the beef. The 100% Wagyu meat was lean, tender and juicy – everything you want in a hamburger steak. As if this wasn’t good enough, this dish came with bread and a ramekin filled to the brim with well-balanced steak sauce.
What Could Be Improved
The side salad that came with the burger was a bit underwhelming. As far as I could tell, it only contained three ingredients: lettuce, onions and dressing. A bit more creativity on this end would have been welcome.
What People Say
So far the reviews have been outstanding. Most people who go to Gyumaru pick up instantly on the quality of the Wagyu beef and the general quality of the hamburgers. The real sign of outstanding quality? The fact that you see 5-star reviews in three languages: English, Vietnamese and Japanese. Clearly, this is good food that spans international borders.