A Japanese noodle house that introduces “dipped ramen” to Ho Chi Minh City. By Lien Hoang. Photos by Fred Wissink.

The menu is unfinished, still borrowing from the Singapore mothership, and Suzuki has only been around for half a year. But it’s already generating buzz and attracting Japanese diners in the Little Tokyo that is Le Thanh Ton Street.

Designed by the same person responsible for neighbouring Pizza 4P’s, Suzuki has an industrial interior with a stripe motif, from the lines along the glass walls of the staircase, to the spirals around the lightbulbs. If you’re with a group, make the meal an outing by going upstairs to dine in the postmodern, pod-like booths, which have openings just large enough for one person to enter at a time.

Suzuki has a tunnel-vision focus on its single main entree, Japan’s national noodle. The rainbow of ramen options include: the basic pure white, the cardinal red or jet-black versions with miso, the emerald green (because of the basil), and the shrimp-based sakura pink. All cost VND 120,000 to VND 160,000 and come with tonkotsu, a pork-based broth that’s not as heavy or oily as those found elsewhere, but is still very hearty.

The one must-try item is the “dipped ramen” (VND 190,000) at Suzuki, which seems to be the only place in the city to offer it. Servers bring out a plate of thick noodles, and a bowl of tonkotsu, pork belly and shoulder loin, a flavoured hard-boiled egg and seaweed. The fun part is dipping the cold noodles into the hot mixture for each bite, which has the bonus of preventing the ramen from getting soggy.

While waiting for the main attraction, guests can nibble on gyoza (VND 60,000) with a blend of soy sauce and chilli oil. Suzuki brings something new to the table, preparing the dumplings with basil, which adds a surprising amount of flavour and texture for such a small leaf.

The menu includes instructions on how to eat ramen (sip, taste the noodle, stir in sauce). Diners also can exercise creative control by putting together their own bowl using a form on the table. Check off the colourful ramen preferred, then choose from toppings such as black fungus, bamboo shoots, fish cakes and spring onion.

There are three levels of noodle firmness and three
levels of broth and oil intensity. Just make sure to finish everything. Suzuki doesn’t have takeout containers because ramen is meant to be eaten immediately.

8/5 Le Thanh Ton, D1
01 26 89 95 61 8
11am-2pm, 6-11pm Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm, 6-11pm Sat-Sun
Suzuki-hcmc.com