One of the more amazing traits of modern Japanese cuisine is how they have adopted fusion, adapting from and to nearly every culture they encounter. From wagyu beef tataki rolls to sashimi to grilled beef with leeks to udon Bolognaise, sushi style in particular has enfolded the prestige cuisines of Europe. Even wilder fusion places exist, daring explorers of the globe’s ingredients and flavours.
Sushi Hokkaido Sachi toes these lines; a semi-traditional sushi place in Ho Chi Minh City with a restrained but excellent selection of Western foodstuffs in full Japanese dress. Neither modern nor traditional, they display flashes of brilliance atop a foundation of fresh ingredients, creative presentation and strong service.
That said, the difference between their winning dishes and their role foods was striking. My date and I order sushi conservatively: salmon and tuna; occasionally oysters, octopus or yellowtail; occasionally Western-derived dishes.
Conservative Orders from a Moderate Menu
Our order at Sushi Hokkaido Sachi followed this pattern — green tea (VND15,000) and misoshiru soup for two (VND15,000 each.) My girlfriend stayed true to her chawanmushi (VND35,000) from which I always steal a bite or three. The soup tasted fine, a touch salty, but the chawanmushi was a dream of cloud-soft eggs and delicate sea flavours braced by powdered red pepper.
The next courses arrived in a rush — maguro sashimi (VND109,000), a terrifically low price for the quality of the local fish and toro salmon sashimi (VND129,000), another great bargain; a dish of salmon belly surrounded by blossoms and a massive sea-shell. None of the fish blew out our taste buds, but all of it arrived well-cut and well-presented, fresh and delicate.
A Momentary Perfection
With the fish came the second of the four standouts, our wagyu yukke (VND209,000) essentially beef tartare renamed in Japanese. The delicate, creamy flavours bloomed together into an amazing swirl of egg and beef softer and richer than the quail egg yolk, laced with satiny fat.
So good it was that we immediately ordered its nearly identical twin on the menu, the third standout of the night, the wagyu nigiri (VND189,000.) Oh, and another maguro sashimi just for laughs.
The Michelin Moment
Then came the Michelin moment; the foie gras aburi nigiri (VND149,000 for two pieces) which was so absurdly good we ordered and reordered. This was perhaps the best foie gras I’d ever eaten, atop a bullet of sushi rice and tied with a string of seaweed. The flavours joined amazingly well, but the simply seared lobe of duck liver caressed my mouth with butter and beef-marrow flavours, a flash of sweetness almost like balsamic vinegar minus any acidic bite, a gentle wave that lingered on the palate with an unbelievably long finish, delicate, buttery, almost nutty.
By far the best dish of the night, it stood out so much against the miso soup, the salmon, the perfect chawanmushi, even the many courses of wagyu beef.
Room for One or Two More
Still able to fit food in our bellies, we selected one last dish: tokachi gyu sumiyaki (VND195,000), artistically arranged cubes of beef that we grilled ourselves. Being carnivores, we opted for a quick sear on the outside and blood inside, totalling three courses of raw beef for the night, a personal record.
Finally, dessert; shiratama zenzai (VND59,000) or red-bean dumpling sweet soup, for the lady. For me, ice-cream parfait (VND89,000) which was good enough that I briefly considered ordering another, as we’d done so many times.
Crowded but Serviceable
The place was packed — we waited 45 minutes for two bar seats. Service was… serviceable. Although in fairness they were very busy.
Sushi Hokkaido Sachi has the glass-fronted fish bar, wooden-slate construction and shoeless short-legged tables many quasi-traditional sushi restaurants opt for. And overall the place really is pretty good and deserving of the large number of clientele. But as for their amazing foie gras… Now that was in a different league.
Sushi Hokkaido Sachi is at 40-42 Dong Du, Q1, HCMC
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