Taiko, Amsterdam

The Conservatorium is easily Amsterdam’s swankiest hotel. The place is huge (129 bedrooms in total) and combines old, a landmark heritage building, with new, a gigantic glass conservatory attached to it, in a way I haven’t seen done before.

Their restaurant, Taiko, is another blend, this time between cuisines; Japanese and the Middle East. ‘Fusion’ cooking is often something to be scared off but here it really rather works.

We’re given the 12 course ‘Progressive Omakese’ menu (115 euros a head) which shows off ingredients like king crab in the finest light. Think refreshingly cold crab-topped nigiri and warm squidgy dumplings surrounded by a frothy lobster bisque.

A chunk of black cod is sweet and sticky tasting of rich fat yet with the most delicate texture. More king crab comes with a cold green curry ice cream; the kitchen play with temperatures in the most clever way.

Thick slices of the freshest tuna going come topped with a wasabi sorbet which brings the whole thing alive. Salmon and avocado maki rolls are more traditional and less whacky yet they’re excellent quality.

Slices of duck, smokey from the grill, have the texture of pastrami yet the skin is perfectly crisp. It’s clever and unusual.

The best thing we eat is a simple bowl of rice purely because I’ve never had rice with so much flavour. It’s sticky and clumpy with chewy bits and soft bits and fresh, crunchy asparagus stalks and rubbery seaweed which explodes with umami.

Less successful are desserts because they lack the flavour and excitement of the dishes before. One of them consists of a bowl of only-white, hot and cold, hard and soft things which have no taste whatsoever.

We do at least finish with chocolate pebbles in a box of sand which is just the sugar kick I crave after a long and boozy dinner. They look so pretty too.

Taiko proves that fusion isn’t always bad. Most importantly here, good-quality, high-end ingredients are cooked and prepared with care and the result is something very tasty indeed. That’s good enough for me.

Would we go back? Yes

We dined as guest of the restaurant