Ask any local and they will probably tell you that, like in most big cities around the world, steak is a competitive business in Vietnam. Hanoi in particular plays host to a heavyweight standoff between steak juggernauts like El Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse, Jackson’s Steakhouse and French Grill. Between the three of them, they cast a wide net across the city, ‘steaking’ their claim to cashed up foreigners and locals wanting to sink their teeth into a big juicy steak.
Grill 63 is the newest upscale steakhouse to enter this ‘high steaks’ game, hoping to carve a niche in the emerging commercial section of Ba Dinh. Housed in the new Lotte Hotel and far away from its biggest competitors, Grill 63 has hoped to set the bar high — literally — as the new high-rise dining hotspot in Hanoi.
A Numbers Game
Inside, Grill 63 has the hallmarks of a fine-dining establishment. The eye-catching décor is both modern and sleek with elegant parquetry floors and opulent high ceilings. But the real draw card is the view, and as its name suggests, the restaurant is perched way up on the 63rd floor, offering unrivalled panoramic views of Hanoi’s evolving skyline.
The understated menu is a balance of traditional and contemporary fare to suit a wide range of palettes and cravings. Diners can even have their pick of restaurant specialties like the beef tartar “Grill 63” — 100 gram tenderloin served with caviar, brioche and an intriguing vodka crème fraiche (VND320,000).
As you’d expect, though, all of this comes at a pretty high price, and then some (prices are not inclusive of VAT or service charge). Appetisers start at VND200,000 for a Nicoise salad and go right up to the more extravagant foie gras plate served with blueberries and brioche (VND650,000). Thankfully, however, the delicious olive focaccia bread with house made butter is entirely complimentary and self-replenishing.
For starters, we opted for the eye-catching “Salmon 45”, a texture-rich blend of soft salmon confit and caviar delivered on a fluffy bed of cauliflower mousseline, and with a side of crispy potato (VND350,000). The texture of the salmon confit was pleasantly smooth, while the salty caviar and fried potato helped balance the subtle taste.
Arriving next, the grilled polenta medallions served with ratatouille and shaves of Parmesan (VND200,000) made for a nice bridge between the subtle-tasting salmon and the steak that followed.
Those less inclined towards meat can choose from a neat selection of pastas and risottos on the menu. A healthy range of seafood options are also on hand, ranging from the succulent 200 gram sea bass fillet (VND300,000) to the half a kilogram of premium lobster tail available for a cool VND2,300,000.
The Pièce de Résistance
For everyone else, you can’t ignore the steak. And you shouldn’t. If you’ve got money to burn, the 200 gram Wagyu beef tenderloin with an impressive marble score of 8 (one of the highest quality cuts of steak in the world) will set you back a mere VND2,600,000. Angus beef, rib eye and New Zealand lamb options are reasonably priced between VND750 and VND890,000 a go.
We, however, decided to go for the entry-level option: a sensibly priced 200 gram prime sirloin steak (VND420,000) with a simple side of grilled asparagus (VND70,000). Any guilt we were harbouring about feeling cheap instantly vanished once we saw the handsome, lava stone-grilled steak floating towards us from the open kitchen. Perfectly seasoned, cooked with precision and sleekly presented on a modern butcher’s block with complimentary Café de Paris and peppercorn sauce, each mouthful was a big juicy knockout. The grilled asparagus also added a nice burst of freshness to the saltiness of the steak.
Overall, Grill 63 performs strongly on most fronts. But there were moments where we felt that the execution felt a little bit inconsistent. The amuse bouche, for example, was a simple fresh spring roll with a bland-tasting fish cocktail sauce. The pecan nut brownie that we ordered for dessert (VND180,000) tasted dry and was served at room temperature. The complementary petit fours, a Belgian chocolate and a strange-tasting macaroon, tasted store bought and left an unpleasant taste in our mouth after the opulent steak and hearty appetisers.
Granted, these are little things, but they contribute to the overall feel of a restaurant, and in this tier of the market, there’s little margin for error. That aside, Grill 63 provides a compelling for those special occasions that call for a mean steak and an even meaner view.
Grill 63 is on Floor 63, Lotte Centre, 54 Lieu Gai, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15.
13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection
10 — 12.5 very good to excellent
8 — 9.5 good to very good
5 — 7.5 fair to good
0 — 4.5 poor to fair
The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals