Restaurant review : Ikoi-Tei @ Hilton | Sunday Observer

Restaurant review : Ikoi-Tei @ Hilton

Japanese food is making an impact globally creating a culinary revolution. In 2018 Tokyo retained her title as the city with the most number of 3-star Michelin restaurants. It is part of vibrant culinary resurgence. To the Sri Lankan gourmet the flavours of Japan would take some time to sink in, be appreciated and truly enjoyed. It is a domain of delicate food presentation that expresses itself in a myriad of taste.

While there is a mélange of Chinese restaurants in our island the search for authentic Japanese cuisine ends when you enter the Ikoi Tei located in the beautifully restored Dutch Hospital in Fort. The Dutch Hospital precinct itself has become an iconic culinary landmark of Colombo city. The restaurant has some elements of the colonial interior, which is the theme of the restored Dutch building. There are two magnificent detailed paintings of the Dutch Forts in Japan. The high black ceiling adds a unique aura to the interior. The private dining room can seat 10 guests.

We met up with Japanese Master Chef Hiikaru Takahashi, who during his four-year stay at the Hilton Colombo, has strived to maintain the highest form of Japanese cuisine, making the venue a desired stop for all foodies. The evening started with an authentic Japanese cocktail Lychee Saketini - infused with gin, sake and lime. The traditional Plum sake is another option. The Plum sake is one of the finest renditions of sake I have tasted over the past decade. Another cocktail on the menu had quite an alluring name - Flame of Seduction!

Next we tried a plate of rolls filled with tempered prawns and avocado garnished with tuna. The contrasting flavours of seafood were an absolute delight. The dinner menu has a wide selection of sushi and sashimi. The highlight of the dinner was the experience at the Teppanyaki grill. This is an exciting and interactive process. Junior Sous Chef Wayne Zieseniss was ready to show us his culinary skills at the Teppanyaki grill - the options to choose from include chicken, beef tenderloin, rib eye steak, lamb chops and the venerated meat of Japan: Wagyu. Food prepared on the Teppanyaki grill has a unique taste as the juice of the meat is retained. The flames rising above the grill are picture perfect moments for foodies. The pork and beef were brilliantly turned out, as the grill sizzled and unleashed enticing aromas into the restaurant. Even the assorted vegetables tasted different from the normal pan cooked or sautéed method used in other forms of food preparation.

Chef Takahashi presented two other pork dishes to sample - one marinated in ginger and the other slow roasted pork that was cooked again on the grill. The pork retained the moist flavours and was golden brown on the outside. Chef Takahashi is strongly focused on presentation, and each plate is an endorsement of his creative genius. The meal is best enjoyed by using chopsticks - which requires some level of coordination. After this regal indulgence a cup of green tea is a must as you reflect on the moments that you have just enjoyed.

We concluded our dinner with a bowl of pineapple tempura and vanilla ice cream. This again was a lovely dessert - the pineapple crusted with tempura batter and deep fried.

Ikoi Tei is an opulent venue and offers a meal experience that is a nice contrast to our routine rice and curry. In addition to their extensive menu they also offer the famed Bento Box meals for lunch.

(Dishan Joseph)