located at the New World Hotel: 76 Lê Lai, Ben Thanh ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh.
pretty darn terrible japanese food at this beautiful hotel in downtown saigon. the worst meal we’ve had this trip – and that’s not just because we had been eating very well, it was also just terrible taken objectively – my dad walked out toward the end of the meal to wait in the lobby because he just couldn’t be bothered any longer.
we’ve been coming to this hotel for years, because their lobby cafe had amazing pho and japanese food. I know this sounds sort of crazy – don’t people escape from their hotels to get decent food outside? – but they did truly have value-for-money japanese bento sets and very good cooking in a fantastically modern cafe. this year though, we arrived only to find that the cafe had undergone a revamp – which was why we ended up at the japanese restaurant. a highly regrettable choice, though it was so bad it stepped right into ridiculousness, and made me laugh.
it was an à la carte buffet, which meant unlimited servings of whatever you wanted off the rather small menu. the restaurant was empty – which really should have tipped us off, and we got a private room with tatami mats.
let’s just cut to the chase, from good to bad:
- the stir-fried vegetables were the best thing, as well as the oden – well-seasoned dishes with crisp and tender vegetables;
- the sashimi was acceptable, though it almost very definitely felt like it had just been recently thawed – it had that sort of not-tender-but-mushed texture;
- the chicken yakitori were skewered pieces of dark chicken meat, which helped it stay tender and though the marinade was a little salty, these were still alright;
- the fried chicken came looking deceptively promising, but were actually sort of tiny wrinkled pieces of chicken in a massive load of batter – I dug the batter away and had the tiny shriveled chicken on its own;
- the fish were horrible, fishy and dry and over-cooked and definitely-frozen, these were remarkably bad – the only good thing about these was that it was at least cooked through so you wouldn’t get a tummy upset;
- dad ordered a minty drink – which came radioactively blue and tasted like a particularly potent mouthwash shaken with cough mixture;
- and we finished off this sad tragedy of a meal with watermelon that had the price tag on the rind.
it was a sad meal, and the worst to my memory of date – we also had to wait very long for dishes to arrive, and so really, I have nothing to recommend this meal. perhaps the best thing I can say is that at least we didn’t fall sick after it?