Saigon’s Budget Sushi Scene

Last updated June 2017 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

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Eating good sushi in Saigon needn’t burn a hole in your pocket. The last couple of years has seen an explosion of good-quality yet reasonably-priced sushi joints all over town. In many cases, the standard and freshness of food is on a par with the city’s more established (and pricey) sushi restaurants. Décor is often (but not always) cheap and cheerful, ambience is informal and fun, and customers are young and convivial: welcome to Saigon’s budget sushi scene.

Budget Sushi in Saigon, VietnamExcellent quality and affordable prices: this is Siagon’s Budget Sushi Scene

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BUDGET SUSHI IN SAIGON


5 of My Favourite Places for Raw Fish at Rock-bottom Prices

These days, there are dozens of places for budget sushi in Saigon, catering to a generation of young, urban, outward-looking Vietnamese, who want a taste of Japan without having to pay Japanese prices. Not all budget sushi joints are as superb as the ones I’ve outlined here, but the following five make an excellent start to your journey into the budget sushi scene in Saigon. Although I can’t claim to know about sushi, or to have had as much experience of sushi as I have of Vietnamese cuisine, I do know what I like, and I know when it’s good quality and good value:

Click a name below to read more about it:Budget Sushi in Saigon, Vietnam

      1. SUSHI NHÍ: Binh Thanh

      2. SUSHI KO: District 4

      3. SUSHI HƯNG: District 1

      4. MIKU SUSHI: District 2

      5. BAMBOO SUSHI: Phu Nhuan


MAP:

5 Great Budget Sushi Restaurants in Saigon


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1: SUSHI NHÍ

Address: 25 Nguyen Cong Tru Street, Binh Thanh District [MAP| Open: 11am-2pm & 5pm-10pm | Price: 25,000-150,000vnđ ($1-$7)

Opened in 2014, Sushi Nhí is fabulous. Recently relocated (well, just a couple of doors up from its original location) and completed redecorated,  Sushi Nhí makes a mockery of expensive, formal sushi restaurants. Right in the middle of a classic local neighbourhood food street, the quality, variety and presentation is excellent. Even since its makeover (now boasting indoor seating on comfortable, modern furniture on three levels), the ambience is pleasantly low-key. The staff and chefs are young, gracious and polite – there’s the sense that they’re proud of the work they do. Prices are very reasonable and ingredients are crisp, fresh, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Over the last couple years – since business has been booming – they’ve added many comforts and extras, such as air-con, a sushi bar, ink-and-water paintings on the walls, Tiger Beer on tap, and excellent carafes of Japanese-style plumb wine (unfortunately, they’ve also added sugary pop music). Hân, a chirpy, attractive, and highly organised woman in her late twenties, runs the show on the ground. Sushi Nhí is popular with Saigon’s youth, middle-class families, and, increasingly, foreign expats. It’s ridiculously good.

Sashimi at Sushi Nhí, Saigon, VietnamSushi Nhí is superb quality and value: a plate of sashimi like this one costs a few bucks

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2: SUSHI KO

Address: 122/37/15 Vinh Khanh Street, District 4 [MAP| Open: 4.30pm-11pm | Price: 25,000-150,000vnđ ($1-$7)

On the lively, trendy, street food mecca that is Vinh Khanh Street in District 4, Sushi Ko is in a prime position. Surrounded on all sides by well-established Vietnamese seafood restaurants, Sushi Ko’s Japanese menu has been pulling in crowds of young Vietnamese and expats for a couple of years now. It has all the buzz and atmosphere you’d expect from a Vinh Khanh establishment: the echo of blaring street-karaoke; clouds of cooking smoke drifting from roadside barbecues; and the raucous cacophony of passing traffic and excited diners. The menu is extensive but prices are higher here than other places in this list. Sushi Ko has recently expanded, and now includes two locations (Sushi Ko 1 & 2) on Vinh Khanh Street, so there’s plenty of outside and inside seating available. Sushi Ko is bigger and badder than most budget sushi joints in Saigon: the fish is richer, the soy sauce is saltier, and the wasabi is wickedly hot. However, you should try to get here early, because by 8pm the quality tends to drop slightly: the seaweed loses its crispness and becomes rubbery, and the fish loses its shine.

Salmon sushi at Sushi Ko, Saigon, VietnamSushi Ko is thriving on one of the city’s trendiest streets for street food

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3: SUSHI HƯNG

Address: 15B/14 Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1 [MAP| Open: 5.30pm-11pm | Price: 500,000-1,000,000vnđ ($25-$50)

Recently relocated to the first floor above the Blues Bar, Sushi Hưng is a cubicle of calm amid the narrow alleyways of Saigon’s ‘Japan Town’. Inside, it’s clinical, clean and minimally furnished. Behind the wooden counter, Chef Hưng slices, carves, prepares and presents all the dishes with great care and attention. A gentle but determined young man in his late twenties, Hưng learned his technique from working in numerous Japanese restaurants (he also speaks Japanese). Sadly, Sushi Hưng is no longer in the budget sushi price-range. After relocating, the prices have soared and things have changed. Previously, customers could drop in and choose from an à la carte menu, including delicious plates of tuna and salmon sashimi for a few dollars. Now, however, customers must call to make a reservation at least two days in advance (096 276 0489: English, Japanese and Vietnamese is spoken), and choose a price-range from 500,000-1,000,000vnd per person (subject to VAT and service charge), which includes a set menu multi-course meal of sushi, sashimi, tempura, soup and many other wonderful dishes. The quality is excellent, and prices are still quite low for this kind of service and standard. There’s an air of seriousness and intensity at Sushi Hưng that you won’t find at the other sushi restaurants on this list: here, the craft of sushi is earnestly pursued. Most of the customers are Japanese expats, which is quite an achievement for a young Vietnamese sushi chef. But I can’t pretend that I don’t miss the days when prices were lower, and I can’t pretend that I enjoy the sushi here any more than I do at, for example, Sushi Nhí, where prices are at least half of what they are here.

Sushi Hưng, District 1, Saigon, VietnamCraftsman: Chef Hưng rolls a delicious maki for one of dishes in his daily set menu

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4: MIKU SUSHI

Address: 86 Số 20 Street, Tran Nao Area (riverfront), District 2 [MAP| Open: 4pm-11pm | Price: 25,000-100,000vnđ ($1-$5)

Miku Sushi is rather different from the others in this list. The menu is smaller, the location is quieter, and décor is a bit trendier. Located under an umbrella tree, close to the banks of the Saigon River, Miku is a relaxed, al fresco spot for a light sushi meal. The black wooden furniture is lit by flickering candles, and dishes are served on black ceramic plates. There’s a handful of maki, sushi and sashimi dishes available. Quality is good and portions are surprisingly large. It doesn’t feel very ‘Japanese’ but that’s not necessarily a bad thing: it can be pretty romantic tucking into a plate of sashimi in this leafy courtyard, and then following it with a stroll along the nearby river.

Salmon sushi at Miku Sushi, Saigon, VietnamMiku Sushi is a quiet, leafy spot for a good plate of sushi by candlelight

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5: BAMBOO SUSHI

Address: 104 Cu Lao Street, Phu Nhuan District [MAP| Open: 10am-10pm | Price: 35,000-150,000vnđ ($1-$7)

Housed in a modern, four-storey villa in an affluent part of Phu Nhuan District, Bamboo Sushi offers pleasant décor, an extensive menu, and very good quality sushi at reasonable prices. The chef, Mr Đức, has over 25 years of experience under his belt, including time working in restaurants in Japan. Sitting on the wooden tables under a shower of white lanterns, the first thing I noticed at Bamboo Sushi was the wasabi: it’s different, better, fresher, more lethal here than any other place in this list. The food is nicely presented and the freshness and flavour are excellent. There are a lot of dishes to choose from, so take your time and explore the menu. I have a slight issue with pop music being played in the background, but that’s a minor annoyance when you’re feasting on beautiful plates of raw fish and delicately crafted parcels of rice and fish eggs.

Bamboo Sushi, Phu Nhuan District, Saigon, VietnamBamboo Sushi: an extensive menu, fresh and tasty food, and extremely fiery wasabi


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17 Responses to Saigon’s Budget Sushi Scene

  1. Patricia says:

    Hey Tom,
    I managed to get to 3 of the Restaurants on your lust- Sushi Nhi, Bamboo Sushi, and Sushi Ko.

    My fave was Sushi Nhi, amazing quality and very cool decor! Bamboo Sushi was also very good, but a bit pricy.
    I did not like Sushi Ko as much. I got there at 5, but the quality did not compare to the other two. The BBQ place next door seemed really cool, and popular (it was packed, whereas Sushi Ko only had 3 tables occupied).

    Thanks again for you awesome recommendations!
    Patricia

    • Hi Patricia,

      Great! Yes, I agree with you – my favourite is Sushi Nhi too, and I also think that the quality is up and down at Sushi Ko :-)

      Glad you enjoyed it.

      Tom

      • Long says:

        Thanks to your suggestion, I’ve been a regular of Sushi Nhi for the last two years. They have moved locations as of August 21 – just 2-doors down. The new place is bigger and the decor is very nice. There’s a sushi bar now and the seats and tables are full size. The best part is the prices haven’t changed.

        • Hi Long,

          Thanks a lot for the update. A friend of mine also told me about the location & decor change a couple of days ago, but she was worried that the prices might change too – so it’s great to hear that they haven’t.

          I will be going there tomorrow – looking forward to it.

          Thanks again,

          Tom

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  3. Khan says:

    Holy shit dude! You’re coverage of Saigon is comprehensive. And I love your wit! Thanks SO much for this. If I was in a position to do so, I’d donate to make sure you keep on at it!

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  6. Tim says:

    Hi Tom!
    I have just been to Sushi Nhi and it was great! Funny when I arrived and saw the lady in the front, asking her ´So you must bee Han?´. I was right and she was surprised of course. I mentioned your name and she recognized it immediately.
    It was very nice and fresh sushi. Quick service and just 200k for 2 persons including 3 beers. That´s much better than tokyo deli!

    • Hi Tim,

      Great to hear you enjoyed Sushi Nhi! Yes, I totally agree – it’s much better than Tokyo Deli :-)

      This is making me hungry – I think I shall have to go back to Sushi Nhi tonight!

      Tom

  7. Phuong Khuu says:

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for this wonderful post. I’m a huge fan of sushi and sashimi. I have monthly sushi meals in which I usually go to the Sushi Bar Thien Que (Zen plaza one, I love the atmosphere there and the quality is satisfactory with affordable price) I’ve tried Tokyo Deli once but it was such a disappointment and Nhan sushi which was way too expensive (it charged me twice as much as Thien Que did) compared to its actual quality. I’ll definitely try all of these budget places in my upcoming sushi meals.

    • Hi Phương,

      Thanks. Try Sushi Nhí – I think you’ll like it. It’s a relaxed ambience and the sushi is great quality and reasonably priced. The owners used to work at the Sushi Bar so the taste and variety is very similar to that. It’s actually right opposite the house I used to live in on Nguyen Cong Tru Street :-)

      Tom

  8. Richard says:

    Tom,

    Your reviews were just in time. We’ll be heading back to Viet Nam next month and will definitely be hitting Sushi Nhi. We have tried a couple sushi joints up in Nha Trang but only mediocre. Regards,

    Richard

  9. H. says:

    Maybe we went on an off night for Sushi Nhi but tonight (Monday) we went in at 6p and, a few minutes after placing our orders, were told that half of our orders couldn’t be completed because they have no Tuna, at all. :(

    I was all excited because Sushi Nhi is around the corner from where we live. The rolls that we ordered were also really light on fish, as in the fish is only on half of the roll.

    So disappointed :-(

    • Hi H,

      Oh dear, such a shame to hear that. My guess is that it has something to do with fish supplies being low on a Monday after the weekend, but that is only a guess. I would still recommend trying it one more time, especially as you live nearby (I also used to live literally across the street :-))

      I hope you have a more positive experience next time: let me know.

      Thanks for your comment,

      Tom

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