Tuesday, April 24 2018

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Sumptuous steaks right in the city centre

Update: December, 31/2017 - 09:00
Winter warmer: Diners can opt for a flaming spectacle right at their table. Photos by Ollie Arci
Viet Nam News

Jacksons Steakhouse has been recognised as one of Viet Nam’s Best Fine Dining Restaurants in 2017 by TripAdvisor. Ollie Arci checks out the famed eatery and discovers that its reputation is well deserved.

Amongst the city’s numerous eateries Jacksons Steakhouse is a relative old-timer, having held a central location in the capital for six years. Part of the Al Fresco’s Group, Jacksons sits on the edge of the walking streets around Hoan Kiem Lake, and thus offers a great option for those staying in the city centre or enjoying a weekend stroll around the shops.

The entrance to the restaurant is unassuming – a narrow façade nestled on Hai Ba Trung Street, but the interior stretches far back, providing a deceptive sense of space. The noise of crowds and weekend merrymaking dissipates as one is welcomed inside Jacksons, a relief of sorts from the busy streets.

The establishment is spread over four floors – a lounge-style bar takes up the first, the second and third allow for a more refined dining experience, while the top floor is reserved for private functions and events. The interior is decked in dark wood, and low lighting provides an intimate atmosphere perfectly suited to romantic liaisons.

 I was greeted and ushered to my table by Đàm Mạnh Tiến, one of the managers, before being offered a look at the menu. As well as the anticipated steaks, the pages present an extensive range of starters, salads and selection of pasta, burgers and other Western dishes.

To start, I had a small serving of the asparagus and smoked salmon soup (VNĐ125,000), followed by the starter platter (VNĐ425,000), which included a pan-seared scallop, slices of sesame tuna, a pork belly lollipop and a duck roll with hoisin sauce, all tastefully arranged in a nouvelle cuisine kind of fashion.

Delicious dish: The pepper steak comprises a New Zealand tenderloin encrusted in green peppercorns, mashed potato, steamed broccoli and green beans wrapped in bacon.

 For my main course, I settled on the pepper steak (VNĐ725,000), which comprises a New Zealand tenderloin encrusted in green peppercorns, mashed potato, steamed broccoli and green beans wrapped in bacon. Having frequented my fair share of steakhouses, in Viet Nam and abroad, it can often be a gamble whether a request for medium rare meat is conveyed to the kitchen and another if it is acted upon. Luckily, Jacksons are respectful to the steakhouse purist, and the beef that arrived was nicely seared maintaining a rich pink interior.

I was informed by Trần Thanh Cảnh, the brand manager, that the meat was imported regularly throughout the week and kept chilled to ensure freshness.

The tenderloin is on the lower end of the price range, and diners can explore more extravagant strips of meat, but bite for bite, the lesser options pack in an impressive amount of flavour. The American steaks will set you back around VNĐ1 million, while a top-end Wagyu could be shared among a group for VNĐ7 million.

From my small sampling, it’s clear the meat is of an excellent quality. It’s light work to cut through the peppercorn-encrusted slab, and the juicy pink forkfuls really do melt in the mouth. The beef has a succulent flavour, and the sides pair well with the tenderloin.

Although meat is clearly the main attraction, Jacksons offers an intriguing range of dishes for those less carnivorous and I’d be keen to sample the fish on a future visit.

Heart of Hà Nội: Jacksons Steakhouse offers a cosy ambiance in the city centre, perfect for a number of occasions.

An extensive wine list is designed to partner with any taste and selection of dishes. With the particular steak I had chosen, the recommended accompaniment was an Argentinean Malbec – a medium-bodied, fruity number with a hint of spice. The list covers a number of prices and regions, as well as some by the glass, so there is sure to be a drop that suits your palate and wallet.

An array of sides is also on hand to dress up the meal, including various iterations of potatoes, vegetables and salads. However, good steak is always a crowd-pleaser that needs little fanfare, so the sparsely-populated plate was appreciated. As the best chefs say; let the meat speak for itself.

If the promise of high-quality steaks is not enough to tempt you to Jacksons, perhaps the dessert list will. The usual suspects of cheesecake, souffle and tiramisu are all accounted for, however, the pièce de résistance is more performance than pudding. Nguyễn thị Hồng Minh, another of Jacksons’ management team, is on hand to expertly whip up a crepe suzette and flambé mango right at your table. The resulting dessert is wonderfully intoxicating, with the rich flavour of Grand Marnier lingering on the tongue.

 The sweet spectacle is usually recommended for two to share, however, I was lucky enough to be afforded a front-row seat on my visit. If you have left enough room after the sizable portions of steak, the dessert is well worth trying.

One criticism, which was echoed by the staff, was over the small space allowed by the location. What Jacksons has in proximity to city-centre action, it pays for in breathing room. Perhaps more spacious terrain would allow for better competition with the capital city’s other steakhouses.

Jacksons is certainly worth considering for a relaxing lunch or intimate dinner. The space is cosy, the staff attentive and knowledgeable, and the food is rich and delicious. As the temperatures start to drop, Jacksons Steakhouse is an ideal place in which to take shelter.

Jacksons Steakhouse

Address: 23J Hai Bà Trưng St. Hoàn Kiếm Dist, Hà Nội

Tel: [+84 24] 3 938 8388, 

Email: jackson@afg.vn

Comments: Cosy atmosphere, delicious food at affordable prices.

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