Tasty TashBlanchy's Tash Review & Interview with Chef Martin Brito
There’s a buzz about the food at Blanchy’s Tash and it’s easy to see why. With former Nobu London chef Martin Brito overseeing the kitchen’s output and the management's Michelin star ambitions, it is clear that sights have been set sky-high. That’s surprising enough in a city where safety first is the prevailing ethos in the restaurant sector. It’s even more gratifying, therefore, that the lofty standards are more or less nailed by the near-flawless Peruvian/Japanese fare.
Simplicity and the very finest produce is the key to the venue’s success. A starter of salmon tartare with wasabi soy sauce rings with the siren song of the sea. The soft, delicate flesh is almost creamy in texture while the wasabi offers enough astringent bite to ensure that diners don’t swoon too early in proceedings. Similarly stellar is a salad of tuna tataki salad with soya and sesame.
Salmon Tartare with Wasabi Soy
Again, the provenance of the produce nudges the dish towards the stratosphere, the generous, yielding slices of expertly seared beef tataki are served with a crisp ponzu sauce. Other highlights include meaty crab legs clad in delicate tempura and their wide range of the freshest sashimi and nigiri.
Tempura Crab Legs
Sashimi & Nigiri Assortment
Special mention must go the restaurant’s signature grilled chicken. The huge tender hunks of marinated meat would satiate a hungry farmer from Bresse (reputed to be the home of the world’s tastiest chickens) and are served with a slightly piquant mayonnaise-based dipping sauce. The recipe of the sauce is a secret, jealously guarded by Britto from prying diners; the reasons for the restaurant’s burgeoning reputation are more obvious.
Blanchy's Roast Chicken
AnyArena caught up with Blanchy's Head Chef Martin Brito to find out more about his culinary style and what he thinks of the foodie scene in Saigon.
Chef Martin Britto
You’ve gone from Nobu in London to Blanchy’s Tash in Vietnam. One an established name in a world-renowned city for dining out, the other a new venue in a developing nation. Can you explain the thinking behind the move?
After 10 years working as a Chef in London, 7 being at Nobu, it was time for a change and new challenge. Andres Arias (Owner) has been a friend of mine from the early days at Nobu and was aware of my intense passion for the Asian culture and cuisine. When he approached me for a possible move to Vietnam, the opportunity felt right. I was ready to deploy my craft and cooking skills, to be part of a fast developing country such as Vietnam & take the culinary culture to a new level.
There are many great Japanese restaurants in Saigon. You however, specialize in South American/Japanese fusion cuisine. Can you explain the difference and tell us the types of twists you will be putting on the cuisine to mark Blanchy’s out from the competition?
My cuisine is more Japanese inspired, with a touch of South American influence, taken from my travels across the continent, particularly Chile, where my father was born. Together with my own twists and flavors such as the Anticucho sauces. I have also been influenced by Thai food which I have worked with for many years. You can see it as a major influence in my "grilled Angus beef salad". I like to use local produce and love the selection available here in Vietnam, such as fresh “thin ly”. I have a new "roast chicken blanchys style" on the menu which is slowly marinated for 3 days in my own signature recipe to make it especially succulent & tender. Most of my recipes do have a twist of Japanese about them and are all quite unique. I am confident that no one else in Saigon let alone Vietnam is doing a similar fusion style like my own.
Since opening Blanchy’s has become a byword in Saigon for huge party nights. How does the dining fit into the concept and are you confident the venue will become as well known for its food as it is for its reputation for revelry?
My vision is that people will come for dinner first, and then go downstairs for a cocktail and a dance, giving them a complete night out. A very similar concept that works extremely very well at Nobu, London. I also believe that if you're doing great food of the highest quality, people will return again and again.
Andres Arias (owner/manager) of Blanchy’s has stated that he has ambitions for Blanchy’s Tash to be awarded a Michelin star. Do you share this goal and how realistic do you think it is?
My first goal is to produce great new food of the highest of quality for Saigon. Blanchy’s Tash is still building its reputation for great food, experience and service. We have a popular venue with regular and new customers, we want them to enjoy and recognise our dishes, any awards after that, will be a bonus. However, I am confident that if we continue to provide the highest quality of food and service with a unique personal touch a Michelin Star would be a realistic future goal.
Saigon is regarded by most as a foodie city. What are your impressions so far of the eating scene here?
I am very impressed with the high quality and many choices of cuisine here in Saigon, which another reason I was attracted to Blanchy’s Tash and Vietnam. I have eaten some great food here and have one or two favorite places already. I am also excited about further exploring the fast growing and high quality cuisine in Saigon and the rest of Vietnam.
You were born in Australia and worked in London for many years, where did your passion for Japanese/South American cuisine originate?
I have always had a passion for Asian food, which is extremely popular in Australia. Working with David Thompson (a Michelin Star Australian born Thai Chef ) in London for 4 years that passion developed, and continued to grow over the past 7 years while I was working with the great Nobu Matsuhisa. During those 7 years at Nobu, my love for Japanese food and flavor grew even more. My father is from Chile where I have spent lots of time throughout my life. Exploring the food and flavor there & while traveling thoughout South America, I picked up many great skills and tricks from different prospectives. And being Australian, I naturally love to BBQ. All of these experiences combined plus lots of experimentation and dedication in the kitchen is where I get my great cooking ideas and recipes.
Ideal Meal: Salmon tartare with soy wasabi, tuna tataki salad with soy and sesame dressing, Blanchy’s chicken.
Summation: Five stars for the faultless food.
Price point: 800,000-1million for a meal for 2 people with drinks.
Address: 95 Hai Ba Trung
Hours: Dinner Monday through Sunday