Zen Japanese Restaurant

An extensive range of Japanese dishes makes Zen Japanese Restaurant a great place for a memorable taste of Japanese cuisine in HCMC. Popular with Japanese expats, Zen offers dishes comprised of the freshest produce, artfully prepared by Japanese chefs behind the counter. Feel like a regular, not just a customer, when you set foot inside Zen.

Zen Japanese Restaurant boasts a funky lounge and a number of private rooms. You can dine upon tatami mats in traditional Japanese style. Note the yakitori station at the rear of the room. Make sure to try the yasai, consisting of cabbage, cucumber, jicama, celery and carrots served with miso, lime and salt. Highly recommended is the Japanese Curry with Pork and Yams.

GALLERY

Tasaki BBQ Japanese Restaurant

Tasaki BBQ luxurious restaurant serves authentic Japanese grilled cuisine. With 100 dishes to choose from, whether it is family or business partners to impress, there is plenty of choice for everyone. Their Wagyu beef is well recommended.

GALLERY

Sorae: Sushi & Sake Lounge

Three female chefs carefully cut skins off pieces of salmon for later frying, patting down sticky rice and throwing an occasional soft comment to one another. Behind them, glass shelves hold a collection of Japanese sakes stretching to the ceiling, where large mesh clouds float immovably. The city outside is a vast expanse of dots and high-rises.

The black-and-red accented walls and fixtures, the feng shui bamboo, the granite tabletop surfaces, the metallic mesh. They’re all, to put it simply, cool.

You walk around Sorae and think:

This is where James Bond comes for his Saketini.

The Saketini (VND150,000) is the restaurant’s signature cocktail – one of several select sake concoctions that are unique to Sorae. It’s mixed with the house sake (Sorae Deluxe) along with raspberry vodka and watermelon juice, and garnished with daikon radish. It’s subtle, not overly sweet, and a decent side sipper.

Sorae kept mum on the interior designer’s name. Apparently they wanted to stay anonymous.

Whoever they were, they must have had Dr. No’s opening scene playing in the background during their brainstorming sessions. The place is undeniably smooth, precisely composed to seem almost organic, ready to seduce passerby with its deadly look.

Sorae Sushi & Sake Lounge

A potted bonsai, winding staircase and cascading three-tiered waterfall greet you at the entrance. A Japanese-speaking hostess takes you to your seat. Attention is in the details, from the handmade ceramic bowls and cups with tiny imperfections to the compressed hand towels that expand in water.

The first floor seats 163, and includes a Yakitori and beer bar, chef’s table, sushi bar, separate sake bar and a collection of themed private rooms.

The black and bamboo accent is so sleek it hurts, especially come night when the city’s lit and the wall-mounted candles aglow.

The second floor houses the cigar club, where you are free to pick out your choice of Cuban and armchair and lounge about to your heart’s content. The whiskey and wine displays are not too far off, ready for admiration and taste testing.

The beer bar actually has a few decent Belgian brews on tap – Leffe Blonde and Leffe Brown, which you don’t see in too many bars around Vietnam.

More impressive is the extensive sake, wine and whiskey selection, and the care that goes into doling out each sip.

Sorae Sushi & Sake Lounge

Here’s what their drink menu had to say about ice (yes, ice):

We know the importance of ice at Sorae. Our standard serve ice ball is hand made every day by our bartenders, using only local natural mineral water to create the purest possible ice.

Sorae has one of the best whiskey collections in Ho Chi Minh City. And they make sure their bartenders aren’t just aloofly pouring whatever the customer points at. Each bartender is trained in the heritage and style of every maker on the shelf. On Tuesday’s, you can even get behind the bar and pour your own whiskey (buy one make one free).

As if this wasn’t already a wet-dream for the fine drinking crowd, their sake list is as extensive as it gets in the city, and the drink menu (attached below this listing) has taste notes for every sake, wine and whiskey they have. Meticulous is an understatement.

We were served a modified set menu to sample some of Sorae’s most popular menu items. Here’s a breakdown of each dish:

  • Salad + Miso (VND50,000) + Chawan Mushi (VND75,000): The salad is fresh and the miso is standard, but the warm chawan mushi (a beaten-egg starter) was quite a surprise.

  • Bara Chirashi Sushi (VND180,000): As close to a sushi salad as you can get. Diced sashimi and a sweet omelet are piled atop sushi rice. Take this one slow and savor the fresh fish with the rice below. For the amount of sashimi you get, the price is solid.

  • Sorae Tartar (VND180,000): Marinated sashimi with spicy sauce and crispy rice, with nori (seaweed) on the side. Besides the nori, which was a little chewy and not as brittle as we’d hoped (likely to help wrap around the tartar – but you’re better off just leaving it there) this was hands down our favorite bowl. The spicy sauce was mild, but with enough kick to add a nice flavor to the soft, marinated sashimi. The crispy rice added some nice contrast and the whole setup got us addicted. Hail tartar.

  • Kushiyakidon (VND220,000): The skewers here are served with the salad, miso and chawan mushi sides, so this is probably the best bet for getting your belly full. The skewers consist of mushrooms, vegetables, meat and bacon-wrapped bitter melon, served with warm rice and a fried egg. The yolk and warm rice are quite heavy – add the skewers and you might not be able to have too much room for the tartar. Share this one or enjoy it on an empty stomach.

  • Mango Sorbet (VND55,000): A bit watery, and thus melts too quickly in your mouth to really appreciate the fresh mango used. We would have chosen a more substantial desert to top off our full bellies, but if you’re not craving more than a scoop, the mango sorbet will do.

TripAdvisor reviewers are surprised Sorae hasn’t gotten as much attention as it deserves. Universal praise goes out to the décor and drink selection, which seems to be shaping up second to none in Ho Chi Minh City. Compliments were given all around for the stunning city view and impeccable service. Food, for the most part, is highly regarded, with some even attesting this to be the best Japanese cuisine in the city. At the time of this writing, Sorae holds a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor with 37 reviews.

GALLERY

Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar

Fancy craft beers, fine wines, steak, carpaccio and Italian cooking with a Japanese flair? Time to save a date for Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar, inaugurated in May of this year.

Located along the main stretch of Le Thanh Ton street, MANZO’s location is a match made in heaven. The area boasts Vietnam’s largest and most vibrant Japanese enclave with countless hotels, bars and eateries geared towards Japanese expats. Its classy interior is a marriage of Japanese simplicity and the cosy environment of a European beerhouse. MANZO is spacious enough to host private events for up to forty people.

Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar

MANZO’s Location & Atmosphere

Sporting an impressive bar counter with a total of 14 beer taps, it is the first bar/restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City to import the Japanese niku-baru (meat bar) concept to Vietnam. In fact, the word MANZO translates to ‘beef’ in Italian and that means that it’s proprietors and Japanese-trained chef are both passionate and serious about bringing the best renditions of well-prepared meat to guests. With these combined factors, we’re confident guests will enjoy MANZO as a place to relax and unwind over good alcohol and outstanding steaks after a long workday.

Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar

Food & Beverage at Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar

As the only steak establishment in Ho Chi Minh City to do in-house dry-aging, MANZO’s dry-aged beef including sirloin and tomahawk steaks are high-quality and surprisingly reasonably priced. The stability of numerous variables such as humidity, temperature and air-circulation are vital to this finicky process and the specialised dry-aging refrigerator used at MANZO ensures utmost precision and hygiene.

Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar

During the process of dry-aging, naturally-occurring enzymes break down muscle tissue and improve both texture and flavour as well as accentuating umami notes. This causes the steaks to lose approximately 30 percent of their original mass because a slab of dry-aged steak has to be trimmed of it’s dried exterior before cooking. However, this is a necessary to create the incredible flavour profile that is only possible with dry-aging. We honestly believe that this is a reflection of the spiritual and gourmet sacrifice that MANZO endures for it’s treasured diners.

As described by the proprietors themselves, “Steak perfection takes time”.

As with all respectable steakhouses, guests are able to choose the level of doneness for their steaks. But what sets MANZO apart from other places is the large variety of sauces and dipping salts that are offered with their steaks and other grilled delights.

Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar

Handmade red wine or white wine salts made from reducing wine and salt over slow fire is a statement of MANZO’s attention to details. What is truly worth mentioning is MANZO’s black beer sauce made with celebrated local craft beer brewer Rooster Beer’s signature dark ale. MANZO’s team endeavours to create their dishes from local raw ingredients as much as possible. Other sauces such as the blue cheese sauce and Japanese BBQ sauce are great choices for diners who enjoy more robust flavours.

MANZO also serves up a great variety of meaty starters and accompaniments which can be enjoyed as part of a full-course meal or simply as great finger food with wine and beer. MANZO’s assorted appetizer plate is stacked with a hearty serving of prosciutto ham, pâté and salamis. MANZO recommends ordering the homemade pizza-dough bread with this special appetizer.

If beef is not your thing, MANZO’s popular half chicken is another favourite. Rosemary, garlic and an in-house special sauce are used to marinate the chicken before grilling to assure a flavourful exterior and juicy interior. The homemade salsiccia (Italian-style sausage) is made with minced, onions and enhanced with a touch of cumin and oregano. Beef carpaccio and finger food such as deep-fried bacon rolled oyster are heaven-dictated pairings with MANZO’s alcohol offerings.

With a massive range of quality craft beers that appeal to a wide variety of palates, we consider MANZO to be a defender of the craftdeployed at the frontlines to assist the hardened artisan brewers who run the show backstage.

Veteran brewers including Pasteur Street Brewing Company, Tê Tê Brewing Company and Winking Seal Beer Company are well represented here and MANZO also takes pride in introducing newer brewers including 7 Bridges Brewing Company hailing from Da Nang city. The 7 Bridges’ Imperial IPA ‘Can Tho Bridge’ (9% ABV) is floral, citrusy and ridiculously refreshing for a strong beer.

Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar

Last but not least, MANZO also offers great lunch sets. The beef katsu cutlet coated with bread crumbs is fried to perfection, topped with demi-glace sauce and served with a choice of miso soup or soup-of-the-day and a choice of rice or homemade bread.

What People Say About Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar

Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar may be relatively new but reviews on Facebook, Google and TripAdvisor have been consistent. Many visitors praised MANZO for their wide range of beers and tasty beef that is infallible and exceptionally reasonable priced. A copious 400g portion of the dry-aged sirloin steak will come in at about VND760,000 and will fulfill a meat craving for even the biggest appetite. However, it is also possible to purchase MANZO’s premium tomahawk steak in the mega 1,200g size for the excellent price of VND2,640,000.

What City Pass Guide Says About Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar

Our reviewers were impressed by MANZO’s select choice of craft beers and incredible food options. MANZO has effectively set a precedent that may startle many. Craft beers are no slouch as pairings for steaks even when faced with the politically correct choice of fine wines.

Jokes aside, there’s yet another fact that should not be missed: Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar’s lunch, dinner and beer promotions (often up to 50 percent off for craft beers) are renewed on a regular basis so be sure to like and follow their Facebook page ‘Butcher MANZO & Craft Beer Bar’ for the latest updates!

MANZO is offering a special deal for City Pass Guide readers: For 10% off your total bill at MANZO, mention you read this article.

 

GALLERY

The Sushi Bar

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.

the sushi bar

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.

Ambience

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.

the sushi bar

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.

Food

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.

the sushi bar

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.

What People Say

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.

 

GALLERY

Kobe Teppanyaki

A garden-covered alcove on Tu Xuong street, Kobe Teppanyaki is Ho Chi Minh City's first fine teppanyaki restaurant, established in 2012. The owner, Minh Le, has an innate passion for Japanese cuisine, and has spent a lot of time in Japan's finest teppanyaki restaurants, sampling high grade Kobe beef and other premium foods.

Kobe Teppanyaki

Along with an understanding of true Japanese quality, he also brought over the exceptional attention to customer satisfaction that is commonplace in Japan's fine restaurants. The servers are polite, accommodating and professional. The simple design puts you at ease. Guests can expect an inviting, airy and peaceful fine dining environment. The restaurant is great for groups who want to bond over the highest quality Teppanyaki cuisine in Saigon. 

Japanese salads at Kobe Teppanyaki

"Teppan" means an iron griddle, and "yaki" means grilled. The ultimate origins of teppanyaki are not well documented, and the style seems to have originated from several sources. A Japanese restaurant chain claims to have popularized the style in 1945, after noticing its popularity with foreigners who enjoyed the skilled movements of the chef as he cooked before them. Other documents trace the origins further back, a few hundred years ago, from meals that were prepared on small grills by Japanese families.

Kobe Teppanyaki ambiance

While many teppanyaki restaurants prefer a stylish approach to the art, with juggling and showy movements, Kobe Teppanyaki opts for full focus on technique and quality. The chefs are trained straight from the academy by Minh Le and Iron Chef David Thai, who comes in every week to consult the chefs.

Kobe Teppanyaki

Their Japanese premium A5 and A4 Kobe beef steak is carefully chosen and inspected, as is the lamb from New Zealand, and beef from Australia and the U.S. The menu is separated by quality grade, the highest featuring two best-sellers: the Premium A5 and A4 Kobe sets. These come with sliced beef rolled with onions and garlic, salmon and Japanese scallop. The difference from lower quality beef is noticeably different: the A5 and A4 Kobe beef contains more intricate marbling, allowing the fat to melt on the iron griddle and release a distinct aroma. When eaten, the beef requires much less chewing, is more buttery, and almost has a sensation of melting. For any meat lover and beef aficionado, this is a truly eye-opening experience.

Kobe Teppanyaki

Use the form on this page to make a reservation at Kobe and get 10% off your bill (does not include beverages).

GALLERY

Tags

IS THERE A STORY OR TIP

YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH US?

GET IN TOUCH