Dining with the Samurai 食与武士
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.
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.
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.
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。
Hotel Nikko Xiamen
Address : No. 199, Wenxing Dong Road, Siming District, Xiamen;Tel: +86592 5020 888
地址：厦门市文兴东路199号；电话：+86592 5020 888