Meat-lovers will not want to miss the beer and barbecue at The Rooftop BBQ in District 1
Opened in June, what sets The Rooftop BBQ (2nd floor of M Plaza at 39 Le Duan, D1; www.facebook.com/therooftopbbq or therooftopbbq.com) apart, an open-air restaurant, are a few distinct features. First, unlike other BBQ places where you cook your own food and end up smelling like you worked an 8-hour shift on the grill, here they prepare the food for you with a special type of grill called Fuego. Fuego, the Spanish word for fire, is a unique propane grill designed by Robert Brunner, the former chief of design at Apple and the designer of Beats By Dre headphones, which has superior features for even heat distribution. With the lid on the staff, you can cook food next to your table without patrons leaving feeling like they’ve been fumigated. Another wonderful feature of The Rooftop BBQ is the beer. Barbecue and a good beer go hand-in-hand, so being able to order from a selection of the best craft beers available in Vietnam is another bonus.
BBQ Platter – Acqua Pazza
With Head Chef Daisaku Takenaka manning the kitchen and run by Ryo Takigawa, the restaurant is a Japanese BBQ experience, the type that have become quite popular in Tokyo. Influenced by Korean barbecue, yakiniku is relatively new to Japan. It started around 70 years ago with the arrival of Korean immigrants, and there are now over 21,000 yakiniku restaurants on the island nation. Various cuts can be used for yakiniku, like the ever-popular beef tongue, chucks and ribs. In addition to meat, all kinds of vegetables, such as onion, green peppers, cabbage, and eggplant are grilled and served with the yakiniku.
To begin I ordered a craft beer, a Kurtz Insane IPA from Heart of Darkness, as the staff brought over a tray of raw foods to be grilled: bacon, marinated chicken breasts, Australian beef steak, skewered prawns and more, with cross sections of corn on the cob, okra and other veggies to go with the meats. Everything looked clean and fresh, and once I gave the staff an approving nod they took the tray over to the Fuego grill and commenced grilling as more food arrived. This time it was a Caesar salad with the lettuce stacked up to make it resemble a hamburger. Meanwhile they brought a charcuterie plate with cured meats, cheese and olives—the highlight of the plate were the boiled quail eggs stewed in a soy marinade.
Next came ratatouille with succulent zucchini, green squash and eggplant. While wonderful, it was too quickly abandoned as a tub of what they call Happy Fries arrived, which are french fries covered with bacon, cheese and chives. Shortly after this, the staff returned from the grill with our meat and seafood. The prawns were large and tender, perfectly accented by the traditional mix of salt and pepper in lime juice to dip them into. We enjoyed the smoky, thick bacon and the grill marked corn. The grilled sections of crunchy onions dipped in Japanese teriyaki sauce were delectable as well.
Beer can chicken – Smoked salmon salad
While we were already stuffed, we couldn’t decline The Rooftop BBQ’s signature dish, a beer can chicken, where a partially filled can of beer is inserted into the cavity of a chicken before it’s cooked, adding moisture to the meat as the chicken is steamed over the beer. The staff brought this to our table where we were able to watch them take out the beer can and carve up the chicken. The chicken pieces were so tender and juicy that we gnawed on the bones getting the last morsels of meat clinging to them.
After our dinner we lingered over our craft beers as we looked down from the restaurant to the street scene of Hai Ba Trung below, as well as Book Street, which is opposite M Plaza. The Rooftop BBQ has a great atmosphere for relaxing and enjoying the surroundings once finished, and that we did.
Images by Vy Lam