From the creators of Relish & Sons and Racha Room comes a grill house like no other. C’mon…You already know it’s good. Review by Simon Stanley. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Mention ‘wood-fired’ anything and I’ll be there. There isn’t much that the sweet, aromatic kiss of wood smoke can’t improve. Throw in a menu of classic cocktails and I may never leave.
Stoker immediately feels like somewhere quite different for Saigon. Think of a traditional British hunting club after a touch of 21st-century upcycling. “We wanted to create something that was unique in all senses of the word,” says business partner Kristian Harmston. “The idea is that you walk in and you’ve stepped back in time, to a place where things are a little simpler… back to a more traditional way of eating and drinking.” In addition to the decadent yet refined interior, Stoker also comes with its own backstory – that of intrepid patron Francis Oldric C. Stoker. Be sure to read up on the full history before leaving. It’s a wonderful injection of theatre.
An intimate yet spacious bar greets guests on the ground floor – dark woods, seductive lighting – an ideal spot for happy-hour libations (5pm to 7pm daily). Grab a few bar snacks (the thick cut chips catch my attention) and browse the thirteen-page drinks list which includes every brand of scotch, bourbon and whisky you could ever ask for. The lineup of classic cocktails is as old-fashioned as, well, the Old Fashioned. No lychee martinis or chilli infused vodka here.
Before heading to the dining space upstairs, be sure to check out Stoker’s own meat ageing room. Single out your own cut from a top quality lineup of US and Australian beef or simply choose from the menu and be guided by Stoker’s expert staff who will even bring the uncooked flanks to your table for assessment – if you’re into that kind of thing. Steak prices start at VND360,000 for a perfect slice of Australian Angus and top out at VND2,100,000 for a Wagyu fillet; all are served with at least one complimentary homemade sauce. With the day’s rainstorm drowning the world outside, photographer Vinh and I work our way across a selection platter racked with Stoker’s finest offerings (VND1,150,000). The flavours, the textures, the tenderness, all are flawless and we eat in a silence punctuated only by groans of meat-fuelled ecstasy.
But Stoker isn’t just a steakhouse; pork belly (VND250,000), salmon with charred asparagus (VND320,000) and a jerk spiced, barbecued chicken for two (VND480,000) are among the highlights on the equally impressive ‘Slow & Low’ menu.
If you’re willing to delay that meaty climax, a range of starters await, the most intriguing of which would have to be the bone marrow (VND210,000). Wood-fired and served with grilled sourdough, it’s a true show-stopper.
For an afternoon delight, be sure to check out the VND240,000 three-course set lunch, just don’t be surprised if you’re still there when happy-hour rolls around.