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Dining with the Samurai 食与武士

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By aJung

It was a calm evening in Xiamen.  I was dining with Benkay, the Samurai.
Benkay, a legendary mythical worrier, that is well known for his loyalty, courage and his final act the “standing death of Benkay” (also known as “Benkei no Tachi Ojo”; where he died standing still while protecting his lord from the enemy).  His story represents vitality in Japanese culture, and people name various items after him, including the Benkay crab, a train, and a harbour, as well as the worldwide chain of signature restaurants in all Hotel Nikko.

弁-餐厅铁板烧
Benkay Japanese Restaurant is located on the 26th floor of the Hotel Nikko Xiamen.  As I walked out from the elevator, the entire view of the Xiamen harbour was right before me.  I walked through the sushi bar, the Chief Chef gave me a heartily greeting, while he was preparing for the evening.  I passed by the teppanyaki area and arrived at one of the private dining rooms.  Outside of these dining rooms, there was a display of Benkay’s armour, standing tall with dignity, as if he was there to guard the guests, ensuring that they would have an enjoyable meal.  The restaurant was decorated with walnut wood furnishings, in contrast with the neutral surroundings and ambient lighting, this created a natural peaceful atmosphere.  The simple yet elegant decor is perfectly matched with the Xiamen harbour, which provided a relaxed dining environment.
The menu has a wide range of food, from various kinds of Japanese salads, sushi and sashimi dishes along with the chef’s specialty, deep fried dishes, like tempura and teppanyaki.  All the food ingredients are selected with care.  Special seasonal items are imported from overseas, to ensure the freshest quality for each dish.  My dinner kicked off with a beef salad, not too filling and subtle yet not too plain; followed by little dishes of Japanese appetizers ornamented with washi decorations.  The main course was a symphony of favours with freshly made sushi and sashimi to start.  As a cheese lover, I specially like the flamed salmon sushi with a creative touch of cheese on top._DSC8258

The sashimi platter can be ordered based on one’s  own preference, mine being salmon, tuna, scallop, and ark shell.  Paired of a bottle of warm sake this is an excellent way to celebrate one love of life and food.  If guests find that there are too many choices, one of the assorted platters should be considered, with all kinds of mouthwatering fish and seafood skillfully selected.  Moving on to the round of cooked dishes, was a grilled cod with hint of citrus and vegetable tempura, that was so crisp and delicate, they just melted in my mouth.  Last but not least, a small fruit platter, and a fruity plum wine jelly dessert, another specially of the Chef, was refreshing and hit the spot; a perfect sweet finale indeed.
Thanks to Chef Atsushi Naiki, the Chief Chef of the Benkay Japanese Restaurant at Hotel Nikko Xiamen, for such a wonderful food adventure.  He has over 20 years culinary experience in Japan and China.  He specializes in tempura and has obtained the Fugu Preparation License, a high level qualification that shows his achievement in Japanese cuisine.
Although Chef Naiki did not know Chinese, he came to say hi, explaining his dishes with bits of English and written Chinese characters.  I appreciated his effort to communicate and was touched by his passion towards his artful food.
Aside from the friendly professional chef, excellent quality, and soothing dining atmosphere, one little thing worth mentioning was the beautiful dinnerware mostly sourced from Japan.  They were a sizable part of the beautiful food art experience.  The restaurant is full of Benkay’s spirit of vitality from the freshness of the food, the loyalty of the passionate chef, and the soothing environment that give the guests a genuine sense of care.

 

这一夜的厦门颇显宁静,我与武士弁慶相依品尝这份宁静。

弁慶,日本传奇般的武士,以忠诚、勇猛和他著名的“立往生”(即身中万箭站立而死)。他的故事是日本文化中的精粹,人们往往都将他的名字用来命名,例如:弁慶蟹、弁慶列车、弁慶港,以及世界连锁日航酒店的第一大品牌餐厅——弁慶日料餐厅。

弁慶日料餐厅位于厦门日航酒店二十六楼。当我踏入电梯的那一刻,厦门港湾的全海景映入我的眼帘。走过寿司吧时,负责料理的主厨热情地给了我一个拥抱,带着这份愉悦,我穿过日式铁板烧区域走进了包间。包间的外墙展示的是威严耸立着的弁慶的盔甲,仿佛弁慶就置身于此,守护着宾客。弁慶以胡桃木建成,加上昏暗的灯光,勾勒出自然祥和的画面。极简的装饰与厦门港遥相呼应,营造出惬意的用餐环境。

餐单上有众多日料选择,比如日式沙拉,寿司,生鱼片,更有主厨特荐菜:天麸罗和铁板烧。所有食材均经过严格筛选。为了保证料理的新鲜度,很多季节性食材都是直接从海外进口。我选择的首盘是牛肉沙拉,无强烈饱足感,味道很细微但并非索然无味;随之而来的是用日式和风开胃菜。第一道主菜是口味大融合的现做寿司和生鱼片。作为芝士的忠实粉丝,我特地选择了一款芝士寿司。生鱼片拼盘可以依照食客的要求任意组合,我选择的是三文鱼,吞拿鱼,扇贝和瓦楞子。两盏清酒诠释了生活和饮食的美好。如果食客觉得选择太多,无从下手,那么餐厅推荐的拼盘组合是你最好的选择,里面有令人垂涎的各类生鱼片和海鲜。接下来是熟食品尝,烤鳕鱼,以柑橘和素食天麸罗为点缀,味美香脆,香气充盈整个口腔。最后再来一份水果拼盘和梅酒果冻,梅酒果冻也是主厨的拿手好戏,非常轻盈爽口,作为绝佳的餐后甜点。

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非常感谢厦门日航酒店弁慶日料餐厅主厨Atsushi Naiki的款待。Atsushi Naiki在中日两国有着20年的料理经验,他最拿手的便是天麸罗,他更持有河豚制作的许可证,足以证明他在日本料理中的极高造诣。
尽管主厨Naiki并不通汉语,他还是热情地用英语和汉字向我介绍了他的料理。我非常感谢他如此尽心地讲解,他的热忱完全融入到了他的料理中。
除了优秀的主厨和舒适的用餐环境,还有一点是值得称赞的是精美的日式餐具。这些精致的餐具与美食相互映衬,无比美妙。餐厅秉承了弁慶的精神:鲜活的食材,忠诚热情的主厨,平静的环境,都是对食客们诚挚的关切。

Hotel Nikko Xiamen
Address : No. 199, Wenxing Dong Road, Siming District, Xiamen;Tel: +86592  5020 888

厦门日航酒店
地址:厦门市文兴东路199号;电话:+86592 5020 888

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