VietNamNet Bridge – Interim statistics of the Consulate General of Japan in HCMC show that there are over 200 Japanese restaurants in the city. The figure is projected to increase fast in the coming time as Japanese investors have become keener on the culinary service and the Japanese cuisine movement has flourished.


The pavilion of Japanese food at the Delicious Japanese Food Fair taking place in HCM City.

The central quarter encompassing areas along Le Thanh Ton, Ngo Van Nam, Thai Van Lung, Thi Sach, Hai Ba Trung and Nguyen Hue streets in District 1 has been considered as the ‘Little Japan Town’, featuring around 30 Japanese-styled restaurants. Diners there can enjoy many Japanese specialties with original ingredients and recipes as well as experience business culture and daily lives of Japanese people.

Japanese cuisine movement

Some Japanese restaurant chain owners have expanded their networks to District 3 or District 7. Yoshinori Yakabe, Deputy Consul General of Japan in HCMC, says that these restaurants are running good business and attracting a large number of Vietnamese clients. This is a Japanese cuisine movement as the restaurants have seen more Vietnamese guests than Japanese living in the city, though the latter were considered as key customers of the service earlier, Yakabe observes.

Many Japanese restaurants such as Tokyo Deli, Tokyo Town, Sushi Bar and SumoBBQ have become popular to Vietnamese customers. To meet the increasing demand of diners, many enterprises have strongly expanded their outlet chains. For instance, Tokyo Deli, owned by a joint venture between a Japanese firm and a Vietnamese company, has opened eight restaurants after six years. SumoBBQ also has five restaurants in districts 1, Tan Binh, and Phu Nhuan while there have been six MOF bakery & café shops in the city.

Although the Consulate General of Japan has yet to have official statistics, Yakabe notes that most Japanese restaurants in the city are invested by Vietnamese people. In his opinion, Japanese restaurants run by Vietnamese people do not serve food with authentic Japanese flavors.

“Lately, I have found out that these restaurants have changed something in the recipes to suit the taste of Vietnamese diners,” Yakabe comments.

Instead of rushing to Japanese restaurants, many Vietnamese people have also bought traditional ingredients to cook Japanese dishes at their own taste. “This is the potential Japanese firms wish to develop,” Komeoki Tomofumi, a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, said at the second ‘Delicious Japanese Food Fair’, which is taking place at the Tokyo Town Restaurant at 188 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, HCMC and Tan Binh Exhibition and Convention Center, 446 Hoang Van Thu Street in Tan Binh District. Through the fair, the ministry wants to bring Japanese flavors to Vietnamese people, learn about demands and favorites of local people to introduce Japanese food ingredients in the country.

The show still goes on

Yakabe predicts that more Japanese restaurants will be opened in the coming time given the fast development of eatery and entertainment services in Vietnam, especially in HCMC. Japanese food has been popular for its safety and nutrition. Besides, Japanese and Vietnamese dishes have many things in common.

After local customers have been acquainted with Japanese food, Japanese investors will invest in high-class restaurants with original specialties to serve Vietnamese gourmets, Japanese food lovers and the Japanese community in Vietnam, according to Yakabe.

Japanese restaurant owners in HCMC also say that the competition will be tougher in the coming time due to the potential market and high profitability. Nguyen Cao Tri, branch director of Golden Gate, owner of Kichi Kichi express rotary hotpot restaurant chain, says that besides Japanese investors, many foreign enterprises have eyed on the Japanese restaurant industry in Vietnam.

Msato Tsunoda, owner of Kabuto Tokyo Restaurant on Mac Thi Buoi Street in District 1, once told the Daily that the dining business remained a bright spot despite the current economic slowdown. He believed that traditional Japanese flavors will be the strong point to attract Japanese, Vietnamese guests and international tourists to his restaurant.

Yakabe, meanwhile, notes that the development of Japanese restaurants will bring about business cooperation chances to Vietnamese enterprises such as in supplying ingredients. However, he advises that Vietnamese firms must ensure product quality as Japanese people always attach much importance to trust and food hygiene and safety. “When problems occur, a restaurant will surely go bust,” he explains. (The Saigon Times Daily)

Source: SGT