ThirtySeven Woodfired Grill + Bar: A Unique and Special Dining Experience
Hoi An is a town with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fresh local produce grown in the outlying farms and fresh seafood caught a few miles off Hoi An’s coast. What Vietnam’s top chefs can do with this produce is astonishing. A recent addition to the restaurant scene, ThirtySeven Woodfired Grill + Bar, joins the restaurants of the region in celebrating the wonderful food of Hoi An. Offering dishes that are somehow close to home in a foreign country, yet at the same time with a twist of the exotic. In other words, exactly the experience you come to Vietnam for.
Blending right into Hoi An’s traditional townscape and just five minutes from the Old Town, ThirtySeven Woodfired’s atmosphere reflects both the liveliness and tranquility of the ancient town. The restaurant boasts both courtyard and riverfront seating with a seamless view. Their covered courtyard comes to life with indigenous plants, sculptures and even a water fountain. So no matter where you sit, you are reminded of Vietnam’s lush landscapes.
For travellers seeking familiarity with a new twist, ThirtySeven Woodfired is the answer. From the food served at their main restaurant to specialty cocktails and a wide selection of wines from their wine cellar, ThirtySeven Woodfired is perfect for large groups, couples, and foodie travellers. Whether you’re dining here for business or just for pleasure, you are bound to be impressed.
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ThirtySeven Woodfired Grill + Bar identifies itself as fine dining with a casual atmosphere, a steakhouse-style menu with a twist. They provide cuisine that utilises both local ingredients and flavours, all cooked on a woodfired grill. The original concept being steak focused due to the chefs love of woodfired cooking. However this has since morphed into something much more, as the three chefs have combined their skills to create a unique dining experience.
Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs: 4 – 11 p.m.; Fri – Sun: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and 4 – 11 p.m. (Restaurant serves food until 10 p.m., bar stays open until 11 p.m.)
Price Range: 50,000 – 2,100,000 VND (2.10 – 92 USD)
A Meeting of Minds
Duc Tran from Mango Mango and Ben Attwater teamed up to create a unique fine dining experience centered around the age-old tradition of wood-fired cooking. Utilising locally grown or sourced ingredients and flavours, ThirtySeven Woodfired Grill + Bar is an experience that begins in the fields and seas surrounding Hoi An.
The chefs collaborate with local Vietnamese fishermen and farmers to include the best and freshest ingredients in every dish. Thus providing both a unique flavour and a connection to the local community.
Offering a range of premium imported steaks and wild-caught local seafood, using a variety of cooking methods from direct grilling, smoking, slow-burning wood-fired oven, and an open Asado style fire pit, and incorporating local inspirations and ingredients; ThirtySeven is a mouthwatering experience that leaves you craving for more.
Three Highly Regarded Chefs
The menu is a collaboration of the three chef’s nuanced interpretations of classic dishes. You can clearly see each chef’s influence in each dish. Chef Ben Attwater brought woodfired cooking into the mix. Chef Duc Tran is influenced by Vietnamese cuisine, bringing in fish sauce and other local ingredients. While Chef Alonso Luna Zarate brings Mexican influences and a background in fine dining. The resulting combination has created a menu full of new and exciting takes on dishes you already know and love.
ThirtySeven’s Point of Difference
What makes ThirtySeven Woodfired Grill + Bar such a unique experience? Hidden thinks it is the magic that happens both inside and outside the kitchen. To make the most out of locally sourced ingredients and flavour, recipes of well-known dishes are tweaked to utilise what is available locally. Meaning the chefs creatively swap out imported ingredients for local ingredients creating a signature dish of their own.
Lotus Seed Hummus
Hidden’s favourite example of their creative cuisine is the lotus seed hummus. The main ingredient of traditional hummus being chickpeas; however, because they are imported to Vietnam, the chefs replace the bulk of the chickpeas with a local ingredient: lotus flower seeds. By either supplementing local ingredients or adding Vietnamese touches into a well-loved western dish or by creating dishes out of local ingredients and flavours presented with a western cooking technique, ThirtySeven Woodfired produces uniquely different dishes.
Locally Designed Restaurant
ThirtySeven Woodfired’s atmosphere fits right into Hoi An’s unique blend of indigenous and foreign influences. Maintaining the building’s original wooden structure and traditional motifs, along with the addition of modern touches, ThirtySeven Woodfired is a direct reflection and extension of the town itself. While designing the restaurant, Duc and Ben, with the help of Duc’s wife – Ly, relied on local builders and businesses to successfully create their look. Using locally sourced furniture and decor, just about everything in the restaurant comes from Hoi An itself. This includes their exquisite copper bar and lovely wooden tables, all custom-built to fit the look of both Hoi An’s past and future.
Locally Sourced Ingredients
One of ThirtySeven Woodfired’s most popular dishes is the grilled asparagus starter, made with asparagus grown on a local farm. It’s a beautifully presented dish. The fresh asparagus is served under a perfectly poached egg, smothered in smoked buttercream and topped with parmesan cheese. It’s so delicious, even the picky-“no greens”-eater will devour it.
Duc actually stumbled upon the asparagus farm while searching for a lizard to cook and eat. One meal not many of us are used to eating but is a fairly popular dish among some Vietnamese families. Lizard has not yet found its way on to the menu at ThirtySeven!
Many of ThirtySeven’s locally sourced ingredients have stories of their own. Firstly their fish sauce, locally sourced from a woman whose family has been making fish sauce all their lives. Just over the Tam Ky Bridge in a small village, she can be found making barrels of fish sauce. Still following the same recipe that has been in her family for generations.
While on a motorcycle adventure Chef Duc Tran stumbled upon her village. He had a taste of her popular fish sauce, and decided to invest in the materials she would need in order to produce even more. The process of creating fish sauce is a lengthy one. It must be aged in a barrel for a year before it is ready for use. Chef Duc assisted this woman in producing enough fish sauce to sell to the other villagers and to be the primary supplier for the restaurant. She is now as successful as ever and the restaurant uses her delicious traditional Vietnamese fish sauce throughout their menu.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, ThirtySeven Woodfired steers clear of fish farms and frozen imported seafood. Instead, all of the seafood they serve is fresh and wild-caught right here in Hoi An’s local waters. This includes the octopus, caught about 30 minutes off the coast of Hoi An on the shores of the Cham Islands. Each octopus comes in weighing about two to three kilograms.
The octopus is used in the ceviche, influenced by Alonso’s Mexican origins and his background in fine dining. We can totally vouch that it’s nothing short of amazing. Served in a bowl filled with large chunks of fresh yellowtail and octopus, avocado and red onion all soaked in a sweet and sour lime juice mixture. Hidden found this dish proved very difficult to share with the rest of the table.
Popular Dishes and Plate Sharing
For a crowd-pleasing shareable dish, try the anchovy flatbread under the ‘for the table’ section of the menu. Covered in ricotta cheese, topped with smoked tomatoes and white anchovies, and lightly toasted in the woodfired oven.
ThirtySeven Woodfired’s slow cooked suckling pig entree is very popular and rightly so. Served deconstructed, without bones, under a layer of crispy skin alongside pickled vegetables and a charred salsa. The delightfulness of this dish is how little work is required to eat it. Without any bones to work around, you are left with a rectangle of pure deliciousness to devour.
Hidden Hint: Flip to the very back of the menu for a full vegetarian menu which follows the same inspirations as the rest of the menu.
Butcher Cut Steak
ThirtySeven Woodfired offers a large selection of premium steaks. With five different types of steak on the menu, each cooked to your idea of perfection, this restaurant is a steak-lovers paradise. One of their top-selling dishes is the butcher cut steak, a grain-fed hanger steak with a marbling score of two. All cuts of steak come with a choice of one of four decadent sauce options; chimichurri sauce, gai lai peppercorn sauce, Hoi An herb butter sauce, and miso mustard sauce. So it’s a tough decision choosing just one.
Hidden Hint: Chef Ben recommends you mix the Hoi An herb butter sauce with the gai lai peppercorn sauce for a wonderful blend of flavours.
Gourmet Sharing Plates
ThirtySeven offers three delectable, gourmet plate sharing options, each suitable for two to four people. Note these do need to be ordered 24 hours in advance.
Hidden’s favourite is the woodfired whole fish. A large wild-caught fish coated in turmeric, lemongrass, and ginger. Then cooked in the wood-fired oven and served with a side of locally sourced fish sauce. This succulent dish leaves your taste buds screaming for more.
Their second plate sharing selection is the baked lamb shoulder, served with yoghurt dressing, pickled red onion, and corn tortillas. Third, is their slow cooked short rib served with caramelised onions, pickled mustard seeds, and greens.
ThirtySeven Woodfired Grill + Bar Wine Pairing
Something you don’t find in many of Hoi An’s other restaurants is ThirtySeven’s large selection of wine. Easily paired with each dish served, livening up up your plate sharing experience. With almost 50 bottles of wine on their menu, ThirtySeven Woodfired has 17 different types of wine from 11 countries worldwide to choose from. Having such a large selection of wine can be overwhelming, so Hidden recommends asking your server for their recommendation.
Hidden Hint: Chef Ben recommends pairing the Quinta da Lixa “Phinho Real” Vinho Verde from Portugal with the woodfired whole fish.
Premium Steaks Paired with Handcrafted Bombshell Steak Knives
Offering a large selection of premium cut steaks, ThirtySeven Woodfired deemed it necessary to make a statement with their steak knives. After Hidden heard the story of their locally sourced and innovative steak knives, we can attest that they do just that!
Chef Ben said to Chef Duc, “We need to make our own steak knives”. So, in order to incorporate the Vietnamese culture into their design, the chefs decided to make them look and feel like a Vietnamese farming tool. To achieve this they made the wooden handles and copper rings themselves. However, it is the blade of each steak knife that makes this story so fascinating.
Going straight to the source, Duc found a local Vietnamese man whose family has been making farming tools for four generations. Located out on the way to My Son, these farming tools differentiate themselves, because they are made with the metal of empty bombshells from the war. Stripped from the shell, the metal is hammered flat and cut and sharpened into individual blades. Then they are attached to the wooden handles and placed on ThirtySeven Woodfired’s tables.
In fact, the process itself is such a unique experience that Chef Ben actually took celebrity Chef Luke Nguyen out to the farm to have a chef knife made as a gift. Chef Ben says that in the future they hope to refine the style of the knives and make box sets to sell. Accompanied with a storybook explaining the process of how the knives are made – so watch this space!
Hoi An Cigar Club
Hidden recommends you take the time to find ThirtySeven’s Cigar Club. Inspired by Ben Attwater’s love of cigars, the room is full of imported Cuban cigars. Coupled with cosy leather couches, a fully stocked whiskey bar, and adorned with beautiful photographs of Cuban locals taken by Hoi An based French photographer Rèhahn, it’s the place to relax. The Cigar Club offers a selection of 21 different types of imported Cuban cigars and over 20 different kinds of premium whiskey. Even if you’re not a cigar smoker, we suggest taking a peek into this hidden space.
Three Chef’s Top Hoi An Picks
Hidden asked all three chefs for their personal top picks of things to do/see/eat in Hoi An.
Ben Attwater suggests renting a motorbike and riding out along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, taking in the spectacular views along the way out of the city, through the rice fields, and into the mountains to the Prao Minority Village. What can be as short as a day trip or as long as a weekend getaway, this trip offers the opportunity to experience the culture and life of the Co Tu ethnic minority villagers. Prao is a place where the culture and traditions remain untouched. The people here welcome you with a friendly smile.
Born and bred in Hoi An, Duc Tran loves to spend his free time swimming with his family at the beach. While visiting Hoi An’s beaches, Duc recommends eating delicious local seafood at one of his favorite spots: Hon Restaurant on Cua Dai Beach. Known for being one of the more popular beaches in Hoi An, tourists can mix with locals and enjoy spending time together.
Originally from Mexico, Alonso Luna Zarate has been in Hoi An for many years. He advocates visiting the beautiful Chau Thanh Ha fish market, just as the fishing boats arrive. Alonso says the best time to go is either at 3 a.m. or after 4 p.m. This is in order to get the best pick of the freshest seafood available. When on the hunt for fresh ingredients, he says there’s nothing more inspiring than the rush of a lively fish market, as the boats begin to dock to unload their catch of the day.
Dining at ThirtySeven Woodfired is a one of a kind experience in Hoi An, or anywhere else for that matter. Their vision and execution come together beautifully to provide you with a meal that will not easily be forgotten. With options for all types of travellers, for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. ThirtySeven Woodfired has created something for everyone with their uniquely special takes on classic dishes.
Channelling Hoi An in every dish, their premium cuisine is both distinctive and memorable. Hidden hopes that you make enough time for a full blown four-course meal here. But if you can’t then just pop in to try one of their specially crafted cocktails and bar snacks. We feel that dining here is something that you should not leave Hoi An without doing. A fine dining experience with none of the stuffiness, but all of the flavour.