A House of Beef
Seated at the table next to the cashier, I leisurely turned the pages of the eye-catching menu. Although it is a combination of Japanese specialties, barbecue and pan-Asian cuisine, it is obvious that Lavastone pays most of their attention to beef. All the beef is imported from Japan and America, and is marinated with their in-house sauces or cooked up simply with salt.
I ordered a wagyu sirloin (VND569,000) and the boneless beef short ribs (VND179,000). The wagyu arrived sizzling away on a coconut coal BBQ pot and as I took my first bite, my spirits soared. The meat was so tender it melted in my mouth — the sweetness of the beef paired with the saltiness from dipping chunks into the plate of Himalaya salt was divine. I wanted to order a second portion.
Instead I moved onto the boneless beef short ribs, which arrived with a dipping sauce called tare. A sweetened, thickened, flavoured soy sauce used in Japanese cuisine for grilled beef, depending on taste (and on the chef), there are many different versions. The version Lavastone came up with was mixed with garlic and chopped spring onion to bring out the flavour of the dish. It worked a treat.
If you are not a big fan of beef, you can either try barbecued pork breast (VND79,000) or Japanese sashimi (VND357,000, a combo for two). Other interesting options include Cajun shrimps (VND219,000), grilled sanma (VND89,000) or the spicy seafood hotpot (VND289,000).
Lavastone has a small bar counter at the back but despite its size, the restaurant boast an extensive drinks menu with a range of choices from classic blends and signature cocktails to simple shots and Japanese wine. The establishment also has a house cocktail list updated every month as well as a drink of the month. Managed by young bartenders, they are given free reign by the restaurant to create new drinks in an attempt to keep the customers happy.
Tung, the main bartender, brought me what he called a Vieux Carré as I told him I wanted a drink that was strong but not sweet. The concoction was wicked; the brownish liquid mixed sweetness with an enticing aroma, leaving a slight bitterness at the back of my throat.
At the end my meal, he made a dessert drink called Escargot that was served up in a conch. Made from passion fruit, butter syrup, black rum and aromatic Japanese rice wine, it provided the perfect ending to an indulgent meal.
Lavastone BBQ & Cocktail House is at 96B Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, HCMC. Visit them on facebook.com/lavastonebbq for their updated menu and promotions