Teppanyaki Delights – 99 of 365

Teriyaki Chicken

Living in Vietnam exposes how much in the west we take for granted, even things as simple as food.   We have so many items we don’t even give a second thought until easy access is no longer an option.   Welcome to the expat experience in Vietnam where substitutions and occasional hoarding are a way of life.  Of course Doritos, Fruit Loops and even Coors Light line the grocery store shelves, but going out for a restaurant meal leaves our cravings short many a night.  Sometimes we don’t even realize we have missed something until it makes a rare appearance as at a recent dinner.

My friends Kevin, Thuy, Evelyn and I were invited to sample an amazing six course meal at Vicki’s Teppanyaki and BBQ at 42 Le Anh Xuan in District 1.  And yes, I do realize this is far, far from being Vietnamese.  Our friendly host, Harry, owns the Lion City group of restaurants and selected our menu cooked right before us on the table grill.  Whether Salt Lake, Singapore, or Saigon one thing is for sure…the theatrics at a Japanese hibachi joint are all the same.

This isn’t even a Vietnamese “same same but different” knockoff.  This is the real deal at home in any Benihana’s with the the heart shaped pile of rice beating, eggs spinning wildly and caught mid air on a spatula, and shrimp heads tossed into the chef’s pocket.   Actually come to think of it, where was the flaming onion volcano?  OK…so a little same, same but different.   But not too much…

Calimari

Courses of garlic chili crab, mee goreng noodles, spicy calimari, fried rice, and garlic chili shrimp stuffed our guts to new girths not even known to be humanly possible.  But one selection proved an interesting trip right back to America…the teriyaki chicken.  Kevin commented this may very well be the only such chicken in all of Saigon, yet think about how common this dish is in America.   Just about every mall and airport food court is littered with crappy Japanese booths serving rubbery chicken chunks slathered in some overly sweet and syrupy glaze.  Ordering a helping does little more than keep us filled until the next meal and nothing more.

Harry’s chefs, however, grill an amazingly soft and tender teriyaki chicken, and their version with its subtle yet flavorful sauce has caused some pretty strong cravings to stir.   I never knew I missed or even liked teriyaki chicken until this wonderful meal.  Now if only all the rubbery junk at hibachi places in America could taste as good as Vicki’s in Saigon…

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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