Take the lift to the 2nd Floor of the Hotel Equatorial in Ho Chi Minh City and when you enter Orientica Seafood Restaurant & Bar, you will be greeted by bold colours of red, silver and black – the predominant palette of its ultra-chic decor. All done and matched tastefully in a modern, stylish theme punctuated with bonsai plants silhouetted elegantly against the walls. Against this sleek backdrop, contemporary classy light fittings cast amber hues across the restaurant, further enhancing its luxurious setting. Lined up against one side are tanks with live fishes and all kinds of fresh seafood on beds of crushed ice… the freshest that Vietnam can offer. This is, after all, a seafood-based restaurant.
The core of the restaurant’s bustling pace is the glass-enclosed open kitchen in the centre where Executive Chinese Sous Chef Wong Yow Phun holds court. Every now and then the distant roar of flames dancing up the chef’s wok would delight diners as they wait for their meals to be served. Chef Wong, a Malaysian, clearly enjoys cooking up creative storms in the restaurant as the food he serves has unique twists garnered from other cuisines. He unabashedly told us how he learned, experimented and got inspired from watching YouTube!
The restaurant runs on 3 thematic elements: Fire, Water and Ice and these are represented in the teppanyaki bar, sake and sushi bar respectively. Based on these elements, Chef Wong served us a meal that was beautifully crafted and one which lingers deliciously in our minds.
Dinner started with Ice – a cold appetizer in the form of Fresh Soya Oyster on Smoked Salmon Tartar decorated with Black Caviar and lightly drizzled with Ponzu. The ingredients were all deluxe on their own and when fused together, it’s quite intoxicating in its richness. The oyster was sweet and slipped easily down the throat even as I was still savouring the briney popping caviar on my tongue.
Fresh Soya Oyster on Smoked Salmon Tartar with Black Caviar and Ponzu
Next came the Fire element – not exactly fiery but definitely very warm Seared Scallops, Foie Gras & Beijing Duck served with caramelized brandy apple and unagi sauce. I loved how Chef Wong has blended east and west culinary delights in one serving and they all worked sublimely.
Seared Scallops, Foie Gras & Beijing Duck
The next 2 dishes represented Water: Lobster Bisque & Lemongrass Emulsion and Steamed Cod Fish with Soya Milk & Porridge Puree. In between the two, we were served a palate cleanser – Ginger & Chilli Granite. I loved the lobster and lemongrass marriage in the bisque and there’s a little offspring of a sharksfin “xiao long bao” in it too!
Lobster Bisque & Lemongrass Emulsion
Our palate cleanser – Ginger & Chilli Granite
The steamed cod fish was a bit bland to me – a wee bit more of flavoring would have brought out the fresh sweetness of the fish more distinctly.
Steamed Cod Fish with Soya Milk & Porridge Puree
Chef Wong showcased his Chinese culinary prowess in the Sous Vide 75oC Pork Spare Rib. The tender juicy meaty rib had a thick glistening sauce clinging to it, spiked lusciously with Zheng Jiang vinegar. The western spouse to this Chinese hog was none other than Truffled Mash and they did have some pretty offsprings in the saute’ed spring vegetables! I noticed how vegetables were cut in dainty crescents, spears and florets here, then meticulously arranged in a colourful row – sweet!
Sous Vide 75oC Pork Spare Rib
Szechuan Pepper-marinated US Beef Striploin served with braised noodles in carrot reduction was the last mains for the evening. The striploin pieces were the stars – meltingly tender and juicy with only barely-discernible peppery fieriness in the meat. I think Chef Wong was very cautious with the peppers knowing how stinging they could be. The braised noodles were extremely light in flavor – perhaps intentional, so as to let the striploin take centre-stage in this dish.
Szechuan Pepper-marinated US Beef Striploin
I barely had room for desserts and it’s a good thing they kept that to a minimal. Dubbed “Saigon Sweet Ending”, the plate held a piece of Chocolate Cake with Saffron Cream Brulee & Marsala Wine Sabayon Sauce and these delectable morsels ended our dinner on a high note.
Saigon Sweet Ending
Chef Wong in his element!
Orientica Seafood Restaurant serves an All-You-Can-Eat Dimsum brunch on Sundays priced at VND310,000++ (about RM49++) per person. You get to order from their Dimsum menu and the food is cooked fresh based on your order. We saw Chef Wong and his team in full swing on the Sunday we were there as they cooked dish after dish to serve the diners.
Just look at the vigour and flames!
The menu lists all the usual popular dimsum items like steamed and fried dumplings, congee, rice rolls, paus, buns, fishballs, meatballs, stirfried radish cakes and even main dishes like meats, seafood, soups, vegetables and desserts are not forgotten, of course.
Plating work in progress
Here are some of the dishes we tried…
And these were our favourites…
Braised Shredded Abalone & Assorted Seafood Soup
Steamed Prawns & Spinach Dumplings
Fried Soft-shell Crabs with Salted Eggyolks
Steamed Beef Balls with Beancurd Sheets
Stir-fried Radish Cake
Wok-fried Beef with Black Pepper Sauce
Crispy Eggplant with Salt & Pepper
Egg Tarts & Fried Sesame Dumplings
Chef Wong spoiled us with this special Deep-fried Durian Puff
Well, the good thing is that you can order your favourites as many times as you like!
If you are in Ho Chi Minh City and find yourself hankering after some good Dimsum, Orientica Seafood Restaurant is one place you can satisfy your cravings! At very decent pricing too with top-notch quality ingredients – everything is cooked fresh and served a la carte style.
Orientica Seafood Restaurant & Bar
Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City
242 Tran Binh Trong Str.,
Ward 4, Dist. 5,
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: +848 3839 7777
Fax: +848 3835 9969
Lunch: 11.30 am – 2.30 pm
Dinner: 6.30 pm – 10.30 pm
Bar & Lounge: Daily from 10.30 am – 2:30 pm and 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm