Forty years ago, the Tsunaya Group started a butchery in Fukuoka, Japan. Since then, they have grown to establish 14 restaurants specializing in quality meat primarily in Fukuoka Prefecture. As they looked to expand internationally, they realized that the restaurant scene in Ho Chi Minh City was still lacking premium Japanese charcoal steak restaurants. This brings us to their latest project in Vietnam, IL CORDA Steakhouse at 11 Le Thanh Ton, District 1.
Making grilled meat delicious, sweet and soft is an art. So is designing a cuisine space so warm that you will find anything delicious. Today, Vietcetera sits down with IL CORDA Steakhouse‘s General Director, Masaaki Murakami, to find out how they manage to accomplish both.
Why did you choose Vietnam to expand your business?
IL CORDA marks the first step of Tsunaya Corporation into the world. We’ve come a long way from five years ago. When surveying the market, we went to the United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, several countries in Southeast Asia, and then finally decided to stop in Vietnam.
Saigon left me with many beautiful impressions, with its prosperous culinary culture and the diverse number of diners from all over the world. The Le Thanh Ton area resembles a Japanese neighborhood. The more we learn, the more we realize that this is where we want to contribute value.
What does the name “IL CORDA” mean?
It means many different things for us at Tsunaya Group. “Corda” (Italian) and “tsunaya” (Japanese) both mean “the rope”. The three strains that we weave together into “the rope” for our guests are people, food, and atmosphere. We want IL CORDA to be a complete experience.
Who are your target customers?
Anyone who wants to discover a scrumptious steak experience! Barbecue has been the specialty of our group for decades.
Tell us more about your culinary specialties.
Charcoal-grilled beef is a specialty of IL CORDA. We treat our meat with great care, and we have a dedicated space for every step of the cooking process.
First we bring the meat to room temperature, then we put it on a high, direct fire, so the outside of the meat is cooked, while the inside remains raw. After that, we slowly cook the meat with a low, indirect fire so its moisture doesn’t escape. Finally, we infuse the meat with the charcoal aroma before serving.
The steak retains perfect moisture, the original sweetness and the aroma of coal, winning the hearts of even the most fastidious steak lovers.
In addition to charcoal steaks, our chef makes a variety of dishes from scratch, such as Pate De Campagne, Salsiccia, or Rich Red-wine Sauce. The sauces at IL CORDA are handmade meticulously with rigorous attention to detail.
Can you explain the culinary philosophy of Akon-Yosai?
“Akon” is the “soul of Asia”; “Yosai” is the “Western way”. Akon-Yosai means “Western cuisine with Asian spirit.” Akon-Yosai originates from IL CORDA’s kitchen, which celebrates the harmony between the quintessence of Japanese and Western cuisine.
The main dishes here are Italian dishes prepared by Japanese chefs, inheriting the thoughtfulness and meticulousness of Japanese culture. Some raw materials are also imported directly from Japan. While Western dishes tend to have a deep color, the Italian dishes at IL CORDA have a variety of eye-catching colors typical of Asian cuisine. At the bar, we have a multicultural selection with liquor from Italy, France to Japan.
Can you tell us about IL CORDA’s process of selecting and preserving beef?
We have two types of beef: AUS Wagyu and Black Angus Grain-fed, imported from Australia. In order to choose a good supplier, we visited the warehouse and inspected the quality of the meat.
Every time a new batch of meat arrives, IL CORDA’s experts hand pick the meat thoroughly. We check the manufacturer, check each meat fiber, how they vacuum for preservation, the color of the meat, the packaging date, and then finally import. After receiving the meat, we keep it in cold storage at a favorable storage temperature and check it again every day.
Tell us about the special features of the restaurant’s design.
To create a diverse culinary space, we have immersed ourselves in the eating habits of many different cultures. Japanese and Korean guests like to eat in private rooms, so we have private areas ready to serve. In this area, the light is dampened and the music is quieter.
Go to the left and you will see the open space with shimmering lights and a large wooden dining table, as found at parties in Europe. Western diners prefer to sit at a large counter with louder music. In order for guests to sit on a high chair without fatigue, we also install a footrest just below the table.
The balcony table area with bustling street views is inspired by the eating habits of Vietnamese people. Craft beer taps are also set to dispel the heat of Saigon.
Deep in the restaurant is a secret room with dim lights, a large dining table and a large mural. I think that Chinese customers will love this mysterious, yet charming atmosphere.
The distance between the seats and the dining table is also carefully calculated so that guests can always comfortably cut meat. No matter where the customer is sitting in the restaurant, we always want them to feel cherished and cared for.
What is the best time of day to visit IL CORDA?
Anytime! An interesting fact is that the playlist of the restaurant is designed to change with the time of day. At 5pm, we play calming jazz. The music fastens as we move towards 8-9pm. From 9pm until late night, the music softens. The harmony of time and music is an important factor when we build the experience at IL CORDA.
If I bring my date here, what should we order from the IL CORDA menu?
For appetizers, I recommend Pate De Campagne. This pate is made from scratch at the restaurant. Fresh IL CORDA Salad is also worth a try, because vegetables are brought from Dalat.
If you come here with your boyfriend, one of you can order the AUS Wagyu steak and the other can get the Black Angus Grain-fed, and then you can share and try both. For a more balanced nutrition, you can order pasta, such as the IL CORDA Linguine Bolognese.
If one day things get more serious and your parents want to see him, you can order a kilogram of Wagyu Tomahawk Steak for the whole family!
Experience IL CORDA at: Address: 11 Le Thanh Ton, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City Hotline: 028 3823 4929 Website: https://ilcorda.com/ You can make your reservation here!