For decades the only place to find Japanese food in Ho Chi Minh City was in a small area on the very edge of District 1 dubbed Little Tokyo. Dozens of higher end sushi joints cram a narrow network of criss-crossing alleyways, illuminated by the romantic glow of hanging lanterns strung from building to building. However, in recent years, thanks to a generation of more worldly youth, Japanese cuisine has started to spread throughout Saigon. These are our top picks in a city suddenly overrun by sushi.
Everything considered, Sushi Nhi is perhaps the best Japanese restaurant in town. Located in Binh Than’s exciting new Little Tokyo, the amiable staff of this two-storey joint rolls up delectably fresh spicy tuna, unagi tempura, or negi sake all at mind-bogglingly low prices. The decor is simple and modest and there’s a nice bar to watch the sushi chefs do their work. For any Sushi lover stopping through Saigon, this is an absolute can’t-miss.
With fish imported directly from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Market, this is one authentically delicious good time. Sushi Rei is housed in a lovely minimalist building constructed from traditional Japanese building materials in the Da Kao ward of District 1. A narrow 9-seat sushi bar occupies the first floor and a VIP room in the second. The salmon is particularly tasty at this fine-dining establishment, but the prices are quite high particularly for Saigon standards.
For some of the best seared tuna in town, head to Ichiba. This famous Saigon eatery serves up large portions of top notch fatty fish. An incredibly attentive staff and impressive decor only add to an already pleasant experience. Ichiba is on the pricey side, yet they offer great sushi happy hours on Saturdays and Sundays. For the more adventurous eaters out there, try the monkfish liver.
This is an experience quite unlike anything else Saigon has to offer. Sorae is one silky smooth establishment sure to leave you feeling just a tad bit more stylish. Bamboo and granite table tops create the trendiest of atmospheres in this airy 24th floor establishment. The food does the rest. Sorae serves up some of the best skewers and sashimi around.
An authentic Vietnamese street experience with a Japanese twist. Sushi Ko caters to a nice mix of locals and expats just outside of the city centre. The sushi, tempura, and gyoza are fabulous and the prices are even better. A bottle of warm sake will only set you back 60,000 VND. This is a place to grab dinner with some friends — a relaxed, exceedingly enjoyable asphalt meal.
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