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Sushi Oishi! Akatonbo

I’m not a food snob, I promise. Oh, one exception though – Japanese food. I was fortunate, due to the randomness of life, to have lived across from a sushi joint manned by a team of Rastafarian chefs. Perhaps they could not find their niche in their homogeneous homeland so they began their self-imposed exile in Brooklyn, New York. After 3 years of friendship and sushi gorging, I got to know the food pretty well.

Upon moving to Saigon, my sushi addiction, rather than dissipating, increased with great fervor. Friends took me to Sushi Bar, Tokyo Deli and other McDonalds-esque restaurants. No-go. Another friend took me to K-Café which was awesome but a bit pricey. Surely, I thought, with so many Japanese around, there must be a reasonably priced, good quality sushi spot in town.

After about a year, a friend of mine invited me to use the free hotpot reward from his stamp card at Akatonbo on Le Thanh Ton. Upon walking inside, my heart stomach rose as I saw the sunken seats, Japanese businessmen and bamboo dividers. Could it be?

The first test was the hot pot - and it was glorious. Served with high quality sliced beef and more vegetables that I could count, it lasted about an hour. But enough foreplay, we jumped into plates of maki, sashimi and sushi with a Sapporo in one hand and miso soup in the other (yes, I can operate chopsticks with my mouth). And behold, the fish was fresh, the portions were just right and the price quite reasonable – sushi for 1 (8 pieces) set us back VND150,000.

I’ve returned to Akatonbo every few weeks since my first trip and the quality has held up. While I tend to stick to the sushi, they do a good tuna salad (tuna sarada) and offer plenty of Japanese bar fare.

Is Akatonbo the best sushi in Saigon? Nope. But it’s a reliable, moderately priced stand-by that I’m happy to have in my life.

Viva la sushi!

Akatonbo is located at 17/4 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC

Do you have a favorite sushi spot in Saigon? Let us know in the comments section below!

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