Viet Nam News
Fresh imported fish, meat, and local organic vegetables are plastered across the extensive menu at Akaari, an attractively decorated Japanese restaurant in Thanh Xuân District of Hà Nội. Hà Nguyễn reports.
Located in the new urban area of Trung Hòa Nhân Chính, Akaari 2 looks grandiose and so attractive that one could not pass it without a glance.
When we reached the restaurant last week, a young girl in a flowered kimono greeted us with a bow, Japanese style, and led us into a dining room which was enough for some 20 people, and was decorated with Japanese paintings and a row of tables in the middle of the room and chairs along the two sides of the tables.
I felt very comfortable in such surroundings.
On the table were already several dishes comprising edamamed beans (VNĐ42 or US$2) and baked almonds.
“These dishes are very good for vegetarians such as me. They are ‘meaty’ and delicious,” a friend next to me said. But I like baked almond because its taste is sweet and fatty. I intended to order more, but the server brought us a sashimi set, including salmon, tuna, octopus and bream (VNĐ780,000).
They were all fresh and imported from Japan and Norway, except the tuna which was from Việt Nam seas.
Visual delight: Fresh, tasty food is arranged with delicate style.
The restaurant manager Bùi Thị Linh Nhâm told me that Việt Nam’s tuna is not only fresh but also of high quality.
“We receive very good feedback from our guests about the tuna,” she said.
We have had sashimi at other restaurants, but could sense the difference here. The salmon, tuna, octopus and bream were all very good, but the tuna was particularly tasty.
It looked very appetising because it was freshly prepared with colourful ingredients and beautifully presented with fresh turnip, perilla, salted ginger and basil.
I took the first tuna piece, dipping it in a small bowl of mustard soy sauce, and realised that Nhâm was right. The tuna was so fresh and sweet that I took another piece, although my nose was almost burning from the mustard.
A friend sitting next to me said that the dish was so attractive and tasty that he gave up his habit of not eating such food because he was afraid of upset tummy.
Presentation: It looked very appetising because it was freshly prepared with colourful ingredients and beautifully presented with fresh turnip, perilla, salted ginger and basil.
While we were enjoying the dish, the server brought us a big plate of seaweed salad, salmon caviar, spinach and cabbage as well as aromatic herbs, which were light and refreshing, and went well with Japanese sauce (VNĐ180,000).
I liked the salad very much because the seaweed was crispy and the caviar had a nutty flavour.
I had never tasted such an appetizer before so I thought I could eat it all, but Nhâm came up and reminded us that several dishes were still to come, such as grilled cod imported from Norway (VNĐ160,000 or over $7), a premium beef dish (VNĐ600,000 or $27), and a cup of hot steamed egg whites.
The server then brought the grilled cod with Japanese sauce to us. On seeing the white lean fish piece, I thought it would be as dry as several other fish, but after trying it I immediately liked its taste.
We were discussing whether we should order the dish more when the server came up offering us grilled beef (VNĐ640,000 or $29). I asked her if it was Kobe beef, and she replied that it was the best quality Japanese beef.
I had once enjoyed Kobe beef at a restaurant in Thailand and recognised Akaari beef, which is soft, tasty and quite similar to Kobe beef.
Enjoying the beef with Japanese sake wine was so excellent that I drank a lot. The sake’s taste is something like Vietnamese fermented sticky rice. I thought I would not get drunk off such sake but my friend was trying to prevent me, “You should stop drinking otherwise you won’t get home.”
Nhâm said the beef was imported from Japan every day to ensure its freshness.
“Many of our customers return to our restaurant to enjoy the beef among other things,” she said.
We were all feeling full by then, and Nhâm invited us to try a cup of hot steamed egg whites mixed with Japanese mushrooms, onions, ginger and other ingredients (VNĐ128,000 or $6).
I thought I could not eat anymore but its fragrance urged me on and encouraged me to try it. The soup was soft while the mushrooms had their own flavour which made us eat them all.
We were all pleased with the Akaari dining experience, and particularly the fresh, tasty and delicious food, in such a quiet oasis in the restaurant, despite the very hot weather outside. VNS
Add: 1st floor, building 17T7, Trung Hòa Nhân Chính New Urban Area, Thanh Xuân District, Hà Nội.
Hours: from 9am to 10pm
Comment: Good food at reasonable prices, starting from VNĐ42,000 (US$2), friendly and fast service, which includes takeaway and delivery.