Ikigai with a Taste of Saigon: Where Sushi Meets Vietnamese

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Ikigai with a Taste of Saigon: Where Sushi Meets Vietnamese

Tucked away in a plaza off of 54th Ave N. in St. Petersburg, Ikigai with a Taste of Saigon is offering up a memorable experience of a blend of sushi and Vietnamese delights. Their concept encourages both take out and dine-in experiences, but the to-go option appears to be the most popular amongst the masses. Whether you’re a sushi aficionado or a lover of Vietnamese pho, Ikigai with a Taste of Saigon captivates your palate with a menu that celebrates the best of both worlds.

Pho, sushi bowl with tuna and sushi from Ikigai
Pho, sushi bowl with tuna and sushi from Ikigai

Ikigai with a Taste of Saigon started its journey seven years ago and was originally only a sushi-focused spot. They were open for five years and then temporarily shut their doors for renovations. They were supposed to only close the establishment for a couple of months; however, the renovation process lasted longer than expected and Ikigai remained closed for two years. Three months ago, Ikigai was able to reopen to the public with an expanded menu which included Vietnamese cuisine. Jason owns and operates Ikigai with the help of his sister, Trang. Trang said that while they were closed, her brother teamed up with his friend, Au, who aided in adding the Vietnamese options to their menu.

Sushi side of the Ikigai menu
Sushi side of the Ikigai menu
Pho, appetizer and grilled offerings from Ikigai
Pho, appetizer and grilled offerings from Ikigai

The space at Ikigai is simple and humble. They’re situated in a small plaza with enough parking spots to handle their flow of customers. It may not be located in a popular area for dining in St. Pete, but it certainly appears to draw quite the crowd. We visited Ikigai on a Saturday afternoon around lunchtime and the restaurant was buzzing with both dine-in and take-out clientele. Though, take-out was the clear favored option. Delivery services were in and out of Ikigai constantly, but there was also a steady flow of diners enjoying their meal on premise.

Ikigai with a Taste of Saigon
Ikigai with a Taste of Saigon
The front counter area at Ikigai - this is where you place your order
The front counter area at Ikigai – this is where you place your order
Mural of the Skyway inside Ikigai with a Taste of saigon
Mural of the Skyway inside Ikigai with a Taste of saigon

If you’re eating in at Ikigai, as we did, you start by selecting your seat, reviewing the menu and then you place your food and drink order at the counter. Everything is then brought to you as it is prepared. As far as drinks are concerned Ikigai offers sake, soju, a few beers, water and some bottled soft drinks. We love sake and enjoy it often so naturally, that’s how we started our lunch. Sho Chiku Bai Nigori unfiltered was the selection and it was mild and a touch sweet. It was quite refreshing and paired well with our lunch.

Sake - an idyllic pairing for a meal at Ikigai
Sake – an idyllic pairing for a meal at Ikigai

We usually tend to gravitate towards eggrolls, but it was 98 degrees on this Saturday afternoon and my husband suggested the fresh spring rolls with shrimp and pork and I couldn’t say no. These were a sleep hitter for me – we absolutely loved them. The flavors were so vibrant and I really enjoyed how present the fresh mint was. Not only were they delicious, but they were visually appealing too.

Pork and shrimp spring rolls to start
Pork and shrimp spring rolls to start

As we were finishing our last bites of the spring rolls, the pho landed. Ikigai has phenomenal pho offerings which include beef pho, chicken pho, a build your own bowl option and more. We selected the beef pho which comes with two meats and we landed on the beef meatball and the shrimp. Additional meat options include steak, tendon, chicken, shrimp, tofu, fish balls, imitation crab, pork hock, blood cubes and egg yolks. After your pho arrives, you then have the option to head up to Ikigai’s buffet-like condiment station which entails lots of garnishes and sauces. We obviously took advantage of this garnish station and topped our huge bowl of delectable pho with cilantro, thai basil, jalapeños, sprouts and chili oil. This pho was incredible. The broth was so packed with flavor, noodle ratio was pristine and the do it yourself garnish game really was the cherry on top. As far as portions are concerned, this bowl was absolutely huge – we took more than half of it home and happily enjoyed it the next day.

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The pho before adding garnishes
The pho before adding garnishes
The DIY garnish area at Ikigai
The DIY garnish area at Ikigai
The pho after adding garnishes
The pho after adding garnishes

Sushi bowls are also a very popular option at Ikigai with a Taste of Saigon. When ordering this, they hand you a laminated card with all of the bowl options with an erasable marker to make your selections. For my bowl, I selected tuna, sweet and spicy Ikigai sauce, avocado, cucumber, edamame, jalapeño and onion. When it arrived, I first noted how ideal the portion was. Had we not ordered any other food, this bowl would’ve been the perfect amount of food to sustain me for lunch. A bed of rice with fresh tuna and vivacious accoutrements – it’s the utmost satisfying, to say the very least.

Sushi bowl with tuna
Sushi bowl with tuna
Build your own sushi bowl and the spring rolls
Build your own sushi bowl and a spring roll

Sushi rolls are a must at Ikigai. They have classic and specialty options and we had to order one of each, of course. Both rolls arrived on a platter together and the first standout detail of note was their beautiful appearance.

The Mexican and Kamikaze rolls
The Mexican and Kamikaze rolls

The Mexican Roll under the classic selection of rolls has been deemed a favorite with the masses, so that one was a no-brainer. Tempura shrimp wrapped up in a blanket of seaweed and rice with avocado and topped with smelt roe – it’s a hard roll not to love. Texturally, this sushi roll is on-point. The avocado levels out the richness that the shrimp tempura brings to the table and all of it together makes for a glorious bite.

The Mexican roll with shrimp tempura
The Mexican roll with shrimp tempura

A specialty roll was a must and we seem to always lean towards the tuna offerings – specifically, spicy tuna options. Luckily, they have a roll that is 100% up our alley and that is the Kamikaze roll. The roll is simple, but it hits all desired notes with spicy tuna and cucumber inside and more fresh tuna and spicy mayo on top of the roll on the outside. I often don’t love how large slices from a specialty roll can be, but these pieces were great and more than manageable. Spice levels were enjoyable without being too intense and the tuna was quite fresh. I find that less is more when it comes to a sushi roll and if you’re looking for that, this option is it.

The Kamikaze sushi roll
The Kamikaze sushi roll

Ikigiai with a Taste of Saigon is truly operating on their “A” game as far as meal quality and service are concerned. Everything exceeded our expectations and we left here full and extremely happy with everything that we experienced. It’s a no-fuss restaurant which delivers in all aspects. I would deem it as a great spot for a casual meal of sushi, pho and more that is certain to please.

Ikigai with a Taste of Saigon
  • Readers Rating
  • Rated 4.8 stars
    4.8 / 5 (11 )
$-$$
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  • Ikigai with a Taste of Saigon
  • 727-999-0444
  • Sushi, Vietnamese, Take Out
    • Wed - Mon 10:30am - 9:00pm
  • View menu
  • 4195 54th Ave N. Suite E, St. Petersburgt, Florida 33714, United States

Fast Casual Sushi Restaurant

DISCLAIMER: Kevin, Lori, Abby, Haley, Lindsey & Mahika do not dine anonymously (this would be impossible) and we sometimes get free food (though never expected). However, we dine with the locals and we support our own. You will always get honesty in a respectful manner. We do not include any large national or regional chains in our ratings and reviews. We focus on independent locally owned eateries exclusively.

PLEASE NOTE: Reviews reflect a certain moment in time. Some restaurants stay extremely consistent over many years, and some change for the better or worse. Some things that may change are: chefs, recipes, food suppliers, ingredients, philosophies, ownership, etc. We always hope that you have the same good, or great experience we had.
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2 Responses

  • Thank you so much for the amazing and honest review! It was my pleasure to serve you ☺️ And I am humbled you listed me as an owner but I cannot take that credit. I’m just a proud sister here to support my amazing brother in his venture.

    • It was so nice meeting you, Trang! I updated the review accordingly. We enjoyed our meal at Ikigai so much – looking forward to our next visit! Wishing you all of the best.

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