HCMC Dining Guide

Friday, July 22, 2011

Red Meat

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to dine at New York Steakhouse & Winery, a fairly recent addition to Saigon's restaurant lineup. Only open for about a year, NYSH has rocketed into the top tier of Saigon's fine-dining scene, and it has gained a reputation for having some of the best steaks in Southeast Asia. While it is easy to get dishes featuring all sorts of meat here, it is more difficult to get high-quality cuts. Needless to say, I was excited to have my first top-notch steak since leaving the U.S.

Before I get to the food, however, the interior of NYSH deserves mention. Covering two floors, the dining area is bathed in soft white light. Black walls and overstuffed, bright red seats lend a cool, retro-New York feel to the place. Black and white portraits of famous Hollywood actors from decades ago adorn the first floor, while similar pictures of women like Marilyn Monroe are located upstairs. I could imagine characters from Boardwalk Empire, or The Godfather, plotting the "disappearance" of a rival at the tables here.

The Steakhouse also features a massive wine list, which is actually presented on an Ipad. Wines from France, the U.S., and Chile dominate. (While I still think Ipads are pointless, this was actually pretty cool.)
Now, on to the food. Before we even ordered anything, two bread baskets were delivered to the table, along with individual cups of butter and chicken liver pate, which you could spread on the bread. Delicious.
The Steakhouse offers a number of appetizers, ranging in price from 95,000 VND, to 390,000 VND for the "Pan-seared foie gras with truffle sauce". (1 USD = 20,000 VND) I went for the New-York style blue swimmer crab cake, which was served on a bed of cucumbers, beneath a pile of basil leaves. The presentation was flawless, and the crab cake was delightfully fluffy, not to mention absolutely delicious.

Once our appetizers were cleared, the side dishes began to arrive. There are sixteen sides to choose from, and most of them cost just 40,000. We decided to try the macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, asparagus wrapped with bacon, and sauteed mushrooms. All were excellent.

However, as expected when "steakhouse" is in the name of the place, the steaks are the main attraction at NYSH. Five types are served: Sirloin, Ribeye, T-bone, Chateaubriand, and the Porterhouse. You can choose between "Choice" steaks, or the more expensive "Premium Natural" option. I'm not sure what the difference is between the two. The steaks range in size from 250 grams to 800 grams, although the latter is meant to be split between two people. Prices run from 390,000 for the 'Choice Sirloin', up to 1.6 million (about $80) for the 'Porterhouse for two'. For Saigon, these are very high prices but, given the quality of the steaks, it is actually a rather good deal. These USDA-certified, 100% Angus steaks would cost at least 50% more at, say, Ruth's Chris or Morton's in the U.S.

I ordered the 'Choice Sirloin', and it was fantastic. Cooked medium-rare, the steak was juicy, tender, and cooked to perfection; the inside red, but not so red that it mooed when you cut into it. I took my time eating, not wanting to finish because it was so damn good. Absolutely worth the price.

The New York Steakhouse could hold its own against the best of the U.S., so I have no trouble believing that it serves possibly the best steak in the region. The wait staff was excellent: at the table right when you needed them, but nearly invisible the rest of the time, surreptitiously removing plates and glasses without getting in the way. I have no palette for wine, but ours was good. Expect to pay at least 1 million for most of the bottles. The appetizers and sides were fabulous, and the steaks were just incredible. NYSH also serves four entrees that aren't steaks, in case you aren't in the mood for red meat. Then again, if you're not, why would you even go? 

New York Steakhouse is located at 25-27 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, in District 3. If you're visiting Saigon and your budget allows for an expensive night, have it here. You won't be disappointed.

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