On the Japanese Food Trail in Vietnam's Sushi Bar

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I confess, when it comes to food, I almost always go off the beaten path.
Of course I know that it is essential to experience the local food to get that taste of the culture and to be even closer to experience, but one simply cannot control their taste buds.
Especially when it comes to a picky eater, like me.
My bad.

But, in my own defense, the locals do it too.
They are more often seen at the international cuisine outlets; or anything other than outlets serving their local cuisine.
Perhaps they could also justify that they just want a refreshing taste once in a while, stepping away from their roots, and to well, get a taste of the other worlds.
It is understandable.

That is the reason for the many foreign-themed restaurants found all over the city.

This is a city that eats, a lot.

You can find a food stall or even a cart at almost every corner on the street.
You won't starve to death, I promise.

They just love food and eating, and it is easy to stumble upon a place to serve something to suit your preference.

I am sorry that I have gotten off the path, and onto the Japanese trail again.
(It is sad that I could barely enjoy my favorite cuisine at the moment since I seem to have lost my sense and tastes. That's what sickness does to you. At least I can still write about it. That's a consolation).

We have our fast food chains like Sushi King, Sakae Sushi and Sushi Tei among many others in our own backyard, and while they have it too, in Vietnam, this is another that is one of the vastly populated chain.

Sushi Bar can be found in most major retail malls or commercial complexes in the city, and it just happens to be one of the nearest place I could hop in for lunch or dinner from where there is simply no reason not to try it out.

Now, that is a good reason.

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True to the Japanese sushi bar styles, the restaurant takes on an open kitchen concept; where the Itamae (Japanese cook or chef) are working their hands at the counter, facing the customers who sit at the bar.

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Perhaps that is where the comparison ends.

A true Itamae, according to the Japanese culture, takes more than a decade to hone his skills and is considered a master for he is not just purely the one who prepares the food, but is expected to multitask in chatting up the customers, recommending/whipping up the meal for customers based on his preferences for the day (Okonomi style - the chef dictates the type of food for the customers. It is very common in Japan), taking orders directly at the counter, and even doing the mental calculation for the bill for each customer.

It is no surprise that not everyone can be a Itamae.

Here at Sushi Bar, the waitresses (they are all ladies) will usher you to your tables after trailing echoes of the familiar "Irasshaimashae" greeting from the door until you are properly seated.
(They do this in most Japanese restaurants)

Appetizers are served after the orders are placed.
It is interesting that the appetizers are done the Okonomi style; we diners will never know what is coming.
The few times I was here, it was all different.

*Appetizers are complimentary for all dine-ins*

Tart-sized silky white tofu soaked in a thin gravy grazed by chili oil, pooling minuscule bits of meat from mincing and peas.

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Boiled shreds of cabbage laying the crunchy bed for the tuna floss tossed on top.
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My personal favorite would be these compact fillets of fried salmon soaked in a pickle bath.
Or maybe it is just my love for salmon.
Either way, it's personal.

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When the dainty bites landed on our taste buds and teased our appetites, making us want more, we would probably order another simple appetizer to kick that satisfaction back in its sack.
The fact that it was one of the monthly highlights and that it was air-flown, plus the recommendation from the chef just makes it all the more reason to place that other order.

Light cubes of grilled tuna steak on soy puddle, placed alongside thick simmered neatly cut spring onion stalks further accessorized by shreds of onions make this seem a plain in sight kind of dish but the tastes refuted the claim made in impression.

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It might leave you wondering about canned tuna when you could enjoy freshness out of these juicy cubes.

This is only the beginning.

Sashimi is always one of my favorite things to order.
It is after all; sushi and sashimi or either when you end up having Japanese anyway.

If I have to pick, sashimi will always take the precedence.

Sake (salmon) without a doubt will always make an appearance, and on one occasion, I had wanted to sample a trio, as indicated on the menu; consisting of sake, maguro and whichever's fresh for the day, I ended up having two sides of sake because they had run out of most of the sashimi to make up the trio.
I wasn't too bothered by that, of course, when there are double servings of sake.

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Sometimes it may even be easier to just order a whole plate dedicated to sake alone.
It makes all the sense, doesn't it?

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Or if one tires of raw sake, there is the option of the breadcrumbed salmon fillets fried to a golden flaky crust ala fish and chip style with that tartare cream to prove the idea behind its conception.
There is even chili and tomato sauce served in a holder should you want a different taste.

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For a vegetarian sidekick, there is also the Kinoko Niniku Itame; a sautéed variety of shimeji, sliced shiitake and button mushrooms with freshly grated and simmered garlic drizzled with a thin shiny finish.

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Keep the gums busy with this fine grill of a whole squid lying on a leafy raft with the thin stream of sweet sauce seeping through to the crunchy flesh of the squid.

I would personally keep this to the last, for the springy tastes could just keep one's mouth fixated on the chewing alone.

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For a stronger taste yet distinctive in its flavor, the Japanese curry with udon is almost one of the humbler options to entice the appetite.

Less empowering compared to our very own version of curry or even of the Indian origins, the Japanese version of curry is perhaps a modest interpretation to say the least, dancing in its subtle aroma of curry powder yet fervent enough to evoke the senses of even the strongest in will.

Kare Udon
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For a simpler and lighter version, a Kake Soba (Japanese soba noodles in hot light soup) would be a good choice.
Or to add a little more flavor to the noodles, the Tempura Soba offers the sleek additions of deep fried prawns to accompany the soaked wheat in the soup.

We obviously went for that extra thrill in our noodles.

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Options may vary on the menu, but basically the sashimi and sushi still stuck to their basic elements.


Compared to most of the chains, the varieties may seem to be slightly limited but prices are reasonable, though service (especially when it comes to the bill) could hone one's patience.

From starters to sushi and sashimi, bento, grills, deep fried to rice and noodles, I would say that Sushi Bar has basically covered their Japanese groundwork.


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Featured:
Sushi Bar
Viacom Center (Ground Floor)

Prices: 
Sashimi (VND100,000 and above; ~MYR20)
Soba Noodles and Udon (VND70,000-130,000; ~MYR13-25)
Grills and Deep Fried (VND72,000-100,000) ~MYR14-20



*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.


Photos/Videos all belong to me and are copyrighted.




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