A charcoal grill restaurant that brings classic Vietnamese streetfood indoors. Photos and review by Chris Mueller.
Vietnam is consistently rated in travel publications as one of the best places in the world to get streetfood, and for good reason. While the streetfood here is amazing, it is also open to the elements. And let’s face it, the streets of Saigon aren’t exactly clean.
That’s why the minds behind Grillbar, a new restaurant behind Ben Thanh Market in District 1, are trying to bring the best recipes the street has to offer into a cleaner environment.
The first thing you notice when you walk in the restaurant is the eponymous charcoal grill at the front. From there, the three-storey restaurant stretches back and up with a modern décor and an industrial touch.
With a name like Grillbar, it comes as no surprise that grilled meat is the star here. Even the banh mi sandwiches (from VND 75,000) start off on the grill. Forgoing the mystery meats of a street banh mi, these are instead filled with choices of grilled chicken, beef, pork or tofu.
To start off, I went with one of my favourite streetfoods, com tam. While Grillbar’s com tam (starting at VND 95,000) is many times the price you find on the street, it is of better quality. The grilled pork ribs with the peppery Grillbar sauce were juicy and tender, and there was more meat than bones, which can’t often be said of street com tam. The ribs also came with a healthy portion of broken rice (you can also choose sticky rice or coconut rice) and soup.
Starting this month, Grillbar will make further use of their grilling capabilities by offering a few western options, including a hamburger (VND 145,000) and a charcoal-grilled half chicken and french fries (VND 250,000).
Grillbar also offers some classic Vietnamese salads, like a heaping bowl of spicy papaya salad (VND 89,000). The restaurant recently added pho bo to the menu for VND 95,000, which is by far the most expensive pho I’ve eaten. That being said, it also had the most meat I’ve seen in a bowl of pho — easily two times the amount I usually get.
For some, it may be hard to justify paying double the price for these dishes when you can get them on the street. But, like with everything, you get what you pay for. And at Grillbar, you’re paying for not only quality, fresh ingredients and larger portions, but also for some tasty food.
122 Le Thanh Ton Street, D1
08 38 22 79 01
9am-10pm, seven days
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