Rather than plonking ourselves in the middle of the restaurant we seek a little refuge at the sushi bar. There is the usual array of sushi, sashimi, yakitori, and noodle and rice dishes that one might expect. No real surprises but all the necessary boxes are ticked. With every single staff member eagerly gathered around us, I get the impression that we are something of a novelty and that not too many punters have yet passed through these doors.
I have an unholy hunger on me so we ask one of the many waiters for some aga dofu (apparently sans the dashi?) before reading the menu more closely. Three fat cubes of golden deep-fried tofu arrive in short order. There are pleasing garnishes of ginger for bite, grated radish to aid digestion and translucent shavings of bonito that drift somewhat eerily as though they are alive. The tofu is silky soft with just the right amount of resistance.
We choose a selection of sushi, sashimi and one yakitori dish to try and get a feel for the range of dishes. Unagi sushi and tamago sushi are nicely done — the grilled eel is sweetly savoury and deliciously sticky; the pressed omelette is well-seasoned with a subtle note of mirin and beautifully textured. Sake kawa maki comes inside out with a salty crispy centre of fried salmon skin and a dusting of flying fish roe adorning the rice. The rice on all three dishes is good but could be better — a bit stodgy and heavy and unable to meet the promise of the rather tasty toppings. Sashimi sake (salmon) comes in great thick slabs. The fish is fresh and tender and more of a texture than a taste (as so often occurs with salmon these days) but this is not necessarily a bad thing. So far everything has been fine so we are somewhat surprised by the aigamo (grilled duck breast with spring onion). Nuggets of duck breast, slightly overcooked, are skewered between lengths of sour, charred spring onion. This dish is okay but needs a bit more work.
There are several indications that this restaurant needs a little time to settle in and hit its groove. With the amount of time and thought that has clearly gone into the fit-out, expectations are obviously high. The food is good rather than great. The service is currently of the anxiously hovering type. Hopefully this will be ameliorated with the passage of time and experience gained. With luck, “the Khai touch” can help Chiisana Hashi overcome its teething issues and become more than just a pretty face.
Sashimi Sake - VND119,000
Tamago Sushi - VND39,000
Unagi Sushi - VND69,000
Sake Kawa Maki - VND49,000
Age Dofu- VND79,000
Aigamo - VND79,000