Experience a delectable feast in a beautiful fengshui inspired restaurant, without the 5-star prices.

The Orentica restaurant, which opened its doors in 2007, is built around the ancient concept of fengshui, the 3000 year old art of arranging an inner space to achieve spiritual balance.

The restaurant is a mix of Japanese and Chinese cuisine, and is considered by many the best value for the money in the city with prices ranging from VND80,000++ to VND100,000++ for soups and appetizers, VND150,000++ to VND350,000++ for meat and seafood dishes, and a reasonable average ofVND600,000++ and upwards for large select dishes.

Guests have a chance to witness their meals prepared in open sight, in the Japanese style of teppanyaki, where food is cooked in front of customers on a large iron griddle with precision movements that create an impressive display.

Diners also have the option of several unique seating options depending on where they sit.

Orientica is separated into natural elements – fire, water and ice. The teppanyaki grill, where guests can witness their food cooked with careful attention and precision, along with the Wok station, are tied to the element of fire. The steam cooking station, where dim sum and noodles are made, is part of the water element. Finally, ice consists of the sushi, sashimi and salads section.

While subtle, it creates a unique atmospheric experience depending on where you dine in the restaurant.

To understand what makes Orientica stand out amongst other high-class offerings, City Pass sat down with the Captain of the restaurant, Ms. Ngoc Tuyet, who has been working at the Equatorial's restaurant scene since 1995.

The restaurant offers smoking and non-smoking sections, along with an open kitchen area, an open sushi bar, a display of the freshest selected vegetables and beautiful water tanks containing live seafood. The décor is intimate, not overly bright, and the fengshui inspired layout adds an organic, oriental vibe that avoids the try-hard tackiness of other Asian-themed eateries.

Ms. Tuyet remembers when Orientica had 300 items on its now more condensed menu.

With so many methods and styles of cooking various cuisines, it was difficult to fit the entirety of the chefs' extensive knowledge in one booklet without it being overwhelming. A decision was made to refine the menu by offering the option of cooking the selection of meals any way guests saw fit.

While some diners may simply be familiar with having dishes steamed, fried or seared,the chefs’ voluminous knowledge of Japanese and Chinese cuisines ensures a spot-on preparation recommendation for any guest's particular palate.

The prices may surprise you at first glance. They are more than reasonable for a 5-star hotel restaurant. But it's not until you are served firsthand that you realize that there may not be another restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City that delivers the same quality of food and dedication to a fine dining experience as does Orientica.

Orientica is primarily a seafood restaurant, and its dedication to the craft of only serving the best the ocean has to offer is astounding. Their tanks include fresh lobsters imported from Canada, and fresh oysters served daily, something few restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City actually have.

Other fresh seafood offerings include tiger prawn, soft shell crabs, scampi, salmon, rainbow trout, star grouper and more flown in every day. Prices are in accordance to market standards per kilogram.

For vegetarians and veggie-lovers, fresh vegetables are displayed in a glass case, allowing guests to point and choose their mix of healthy greens (City Pass recommends the steamed mixed vegetable plate as a starter). Season fresh vegetables are priced at VND120,000++, and some of the best tofu you’ll try in Saigon is served with the all-you-can-eat dim sum lunch on weekends (VND330,000++ per person).

Vietnamese style hot pans are offered at VND500,000++ to VND600,000++ and include assorted seafood with mixed vegetables or beef, and are served with Thai or Chinese style soups, creating a delicious mixed cuisine experience.

The servers know their wines,sakes and whiskeys well. Orientica’s recommendations come from experienced palates that understands what drinkers of all types crave, from novice rice wine enthusiasts to wine aficionados to whiskey dabblers, the staff’s intuitive knowledge of what pairs with what is uncanny.

But drinks don't just mean liquid courage: Orientica's smoothie and juice offerings are all fresh and naturally sweetened, and the restaurant boasts a wide selection of local and imported black and green teas that offer a some robust flavors.

It can be argued that a dining experience is incomplete unless the palate experiences some delectable sweetness at the end of a hearty meal.

From typical offerings like ice cream (two scoops for VND90,000++), to rarer treats like double-boiled Hasma with young coconut (VND250,000++), the restaurant’s quality permeates every dessert. The Hasma is hearty, somewhat strange and completely delicious. The ice cream is soft and just the right level of sweetness.

City Pass’s time at Orientica reinforced several truths: the staff are experts at what they serve; the restaurant is still one of the best values in the Ho Chi Minh City food scene, both for quality and price; and we can’t wait to come back for another round ourselves.


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