A little over a year ago, I fell in love with Amsterdam. Everything about that city set my soul on fire – from the weather during summer, to its people, to the history – and the food. Oh, the food. In the words of the band Nothing but Thieves, I left my heart in Amsterdam – and my stomach too.
Therefore, need I say that I was ecstatic to know that Taiko, Amsterdam’s much loved restaurant, was opening doors in Dubai? For context, the award-winning concept, located in the Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam, was created by Executive Chef Schilo van Coevorden six years ago to honor the beautiful flavors and textures of the Far East and is now a leading restaurant in contemporary Asian cuisine. Located at Sofitel Dubai the Obelisk, the Dubai-based Taiko is headed by Chef Guido who has travelled the world and immersed himself in an array of culinary adventures. I arrived ready to embark on my own adventure.
A dining experience for me starts from the moment you walk through the doors – or in Taiko’s case, through the long elegant corridor that leads straight into its open floor kitchen. My immersive escapade into Asian culinary culture started at the bar, with dramatic mood lighting, involving music, high ceilings and lush decor. The array of specialities cocktails was impressive, to say the least. I opted for the Royal Dr, a whiskey based drink with fortified wine, cherry hearing, thai lime & basil and egg white. Think of a whiskey sour with an exhilarating twist – I was sold.
The elegant bar allows for diners to watch as their cocktails are being prepared, a spectacle of its own. I sipped on my cocktail whilst admiring the details of the setting – meticulously decorated to create a mysterious yet accommodating ambience. It was easy to get excited to try the dishes that were to come.
The polite and charming staff soon moved me to the table where I was taken to the second realm of my adventure: the dinner. From my table, I could see the open kitchen revolving around a char-fired robata grill and a sushi bar, where the cooks performed an artistic show of scents and shapes with the Asian delicacies.
The menu played with my emotions, how could I pick dishes when I wanted to try a little bit of everything? I opted for a selection of signature dishes, including the Salmon Sashimi, Salmon Avocado Maki, Peking Duck Gyoza, Miso Black Cod and the Shisha Sushi. Yes, Shisha Sushi. Served in Delftware, the traditional blue and white pottery from the Netherlands, the flavors for this eccentric sushi were Torched Salmon and Soy Glazed Wagyu. As Peter, my endearing waiter for the evening, opened the dish smoke came out of this traditional pottery bowl creating the perfect marriage of Arabic culture and in a Dutch setting. The taste was exquisite.
The star of the show was without a doubt the Miso Black Cod, a unique dish with traditional Asian flavors. Tender and succulent, I watched as the fish soon disappeared from the table and into my memory as one of the best dishes I have tried in Dubai to date. My splendid dinner came to a close with the Crème Miso Caramel and green tea – giving an unexpected spin to a traditional dessert. I was satisfied and pleased with my choice.
Taiko Dubai surprised and excited me every step of the way. The ideal place for a special date night, or a drink and dinner with friends. A restaurant for every occasion really, as long as you love fantastic food and a true dinning adventure. Much like its original location in Amsterdam, I can’t wait to see Taiko becoming one of the most sought after restaurants in Dubai – and it definitely will.