RESTAU­RANT RE­VIEWS

A culi­nary roller­coaster that in­cludes fu­sion, sushi and the best of Asian street food

Oi Vietnam - - Contents - Text by Joel Zor­rilla Im­ages by Ngoc Tran

THANKS TO ITS SIZE­ABLE Ja­panese ex­pat pop­u­la­tion, Saigon is blessed with count­less fine sushi restau­rants, and it’s rare for a new one to power through the stiff com­pe­ti­tion, but with 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind var­i­ous sushi restau­rants across Tokyo, new sushi chef in town—Moriya Masahiro—is to be reck­oned with. And thanks to Chef Moriya, Chiy­oda Sushi

(178 Pas­teur, D1) has dis­tin­guished it­self with some unique plates found nowhere else in the city. Open since De­cem­ber in Viet­nam, the Chiy­oda started in 1959 and cur­rently op­er­ates over 200 restau­rants in Ja­pan.

On rec­om­men­da­tion from the owner and chef we tried a bit of every­thing, and it was phe­nom­e­nal from start to fin­ish. The first dish were rolls that catered to a more Western palate: Dragon roll (an omelet and vegetable fill­ing cov­ered in thin slices of av­o­cado, VND185,000), and the Ebi Ten Roll (bat­tered deep fried prawns rolled up and topped with salmon roe with a side of house-made sauce, VND105,000). The for­mer roll was soft with a de­light­ful creamy tex­ture pro­vided by the av­o­cado, while the lat­ter roll was a fan­tas­tic tex­tu­ral mix of crunch and soft­ness from the fried prawns and roe.

Pos­si­bly one of the best sakes I’ve had, Hakut­suru Mi­zore (VND328,000 for a small bot­tle that serves two) is a dry yet fruity spirit, which we had served cold. For the price, it’s prac­ti­cally a steal, giv­ing most top shelf com­peti­tors a run for their money. As we sa­vored the sake, they brought us the dish that stole the night— Saba Bou Spe­cialty Sushi (VND150,000 half por­tion, or VND290,000 full por­tion). Con­sist­ing of pressed slices of mack­erel served in per­fectly sliced larger rec­tan­gles on rice lay­ered with flat pieces of sea­weed and ar­tis­ti­cally in­ter­locked with a thin tube of gin­ger, where the back­bone was pre­vi­ously re­moved. Mack­erel is usu­ally

oily with a strong fishy fla­vor, how­ever, paired with lay­ers of sea­weed strips and gin­ger and it be­comes a one-of-a-kind exotic twist on sushi, and if you have never had any­thing like it we highly rec­om­mend giv­ing it a try. Fol­low­ing this we en­joyed a beau­ti­ful Tokusen Sushi Mori mixed sushi plat­ter (VND298,000), a mix of ark shell, prawn, scal­lop, yel­low­tail tuna, salmon, sea bream and flake fin. Each piece was a tes­ta­ment to Chiy­oda’s ded­i­ca­tion to sourc­ing and im­port­ing the fresh­est cuts pos­si­ble.

Here I delved into un­known ter­ri­tory, which left me equally im­pressed—flame grilled ni­gari— a heav­enly fu­sion of half roasted and half raw fish, both sides com­ple­ment­ing each other beau­ti­fully. We or­dered the Aburi Ni­giri Zukushi (VND198,000), which came with scal­lop, salmon, prawn, yel­low­tail and flake fin ni­giri, all so soft and del­i­cate that we were able to di­vide them all per­fectly with a but­ter knife.

On rec­om­men­da­tion of the chef, we tried one of the Agedashi tofu, (VND50,000). It was es­sen­tially soft deep-fried tofu squares served in a rich beef broth, the con­trast­ing tastes and tex­tures were ab­so­lutely de­li­cious and served as a nice con­trast from the flow of raw fish. Last but not least, an ar­ray of gor­geously plated sashimi on a bed of ice and var­i­ous types of sea­weed. We were treated to three very con­trast­ing piles of fresh raw sea crea­tures:

Toro tuna stom­ach (VND388,000), salmon (VND118,000) and gi­ant snail, iket­sub­ugai sashimi (VND238,000). The salmon was sweet and won­der­fully soft on the tongue, but here I must high­light a fla­vor and tex­ture combo that I've never had be­fore, the gi­ant snail was an aque­ous and crunchy ex­pe­ri­ence packed with a light yet sat­is­fy­ing fla­vor, and the toro was sweet and slightly fatty which melted in our mouths, both an ab­so­lute de­light to eat and fin­ish our meal with.

Seared ni­giri

COL­UMNS

Clock­wise from top left: Dragon roll, Sashimi, Saba bou, Agedashi tofu

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