Does not disappoint.
240 Le Thanh Ton, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
T: (08) 5402 1133
Just a half block away from the Ben Thanh market on Le Thanh Ton, Tokyo Deli may have one of the most convenient locations in Saigon for a traveller in search of Japanese cuisine.
Although the location is great, to look at the Deli from the outside is far from awe inspiring. The building has a bit of a generic feel, with a simple sign and colour scheme, and could use some overall upkeep, like replacing the s in sushi for example. But inside you will find a different story, with a clean, well-maintained sushi bar. Although space is tight, they fit plenty of tables over the restaurant’s three floors, giving you the option to sit at a regular table or in the more traditional Japanese, shoes-off floor tables. Still, if you’re looking for an exciting place you may find the Deli a little bland when it comes to decor.
But the real reason you’ll be visiting Tokyo Deli is for the food, and this is an arena where they don’t disappoint. The menu is quite expansive and covers a few popular types of Japanese food but the emphasis is on sushi, sashimi and rolls. With so many choices, it may be hard to make a selection, which is why I typically find myself drawn to the sampler platters that start at around 200,000 VND. The fish is as fresh as you’ll find in the city and the cuts are pretty thick. My favourite sushi dish is the shrimp tempura roll and Tokyo Deli makes a good one, consistently bringing me rolls with shrimp tempura that is still crispy.
If you’re not into sushi, the Deli still has plenty that might grab your attention, like tempuras, rice dishes, salads and udon noodle soups. I’m particularly a fan of the udon set menu where plates starting at 80,000 VND can get you a bowl of udon, a rice/meat dish and some extras.
Overall, things here taste pretty good. While the sushi may not be as good as you’ll find in Japan, Tokyo Deli has set a high bar for HCMC. The service happens to be good as well, with your food coming out fast and a free glass of tra da that never seems to empty. With dishes starting as low as 20,000 VND Tokyo Deli draws a diverse crowd of locals, tourists and business types so you can walk in wearing shorts and a tank top or a suit and tie and you’ll fit right in.
Tokyo Deli has become a success and, as is the case with smaller restaurants in the city, it can get crowded but you can call in a reservation. Luckily, if you can’t find a seat, the success has spawned more locations: five more to be exact, sprinkled throughout the city, from District 3 to 7. Tokyo Deli’s chief competitor, The Sushi Bar, also has six locations, including a restaurant on nearby Nguyen Trai if you’re looking for nicer ascetics, but expect slightly higher prices.
If you’re looking for an Asian culinary experience with regional food try Monsoon, a five-minute taxi ride away. If you’re looking for cheaper fare head to Ben Thanh for some street food or walk to Xoi Ga Number One on Nguyen Trung Truc. And, since you’re in the area, you can pop over to the Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum just on the other side of the Troung Tran Nguyen roundabout for a dessert sampler of culture.
By Angela Schonberg
Last updated on 7th July, 2014.