Last month, Amsterdam’s hottest contemporary Asian restaurant, Taiko at the Conservatorium has unveiled its new menu for the year ahead, focusing on the Japanese wasabi plant as its ingredient of the year.
Taiko is the brainchild of Schilo van Coevorden, the Executive Chef of Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam. First opened in September 2014 following the success of van Coevorden’s Asian-inspired tapas at the hotel’s Tunes Bar, Taiko serves contemporary Asian cuisine created with seasonal produce and is extremely popular with Amsterdam locals and hotel guests alike.
Since its first appearance on the river banks in Japan, wasabi has grown enormously in popularity along with the emergence of sushi to the worldwide market. Belonging to the mustard family, Wasabi Japonica is famous for its spicy, aromatic taste that only becomes present when the root is grated. Wasabi is also praised for its anti-flammatory, anti-asthmatic and detoxification properties, while being an excellent source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Calcium.
While the oldest wasabi farm has been owned by the same family for over 17 generations and is located in the village of Utogi in Shizuoka, Japan, the UK’s Wasabi Company is the proud partner of Taiko and Tunes, supplying their fresh produce. As wasabi is grown in a similar way to the UK’s native watercress, The Wasabi Company was started as an affiliate of the Watercress Company in Dorchester, who have been supplying watercress from Dorset and Hampshire since the 1850s. The company now sells its wasabi to top chefs across the UK, and Europe.
Traditionally, wasabi is freshly grated and served with sushi and sashimi, however the last few years have seen beautiful creations using foams, ice creams and even the flowers, stems and leaves of the wasabi plant to further flavour inspiring dishes. Schilo van Coevorden commented “I have chosen wasabi as this year’s ingredient in Taiko in celebration of the delicate plant and its array of different uses. It represents all that I admire in Japanese cuisine, colour, vibrancy, mystery and sensational taste, and I aim to champion this in Taiko’s dishes for the year”.
Taiko is opened from Monday – Saturday for dinner, 18.30 – 22.30 hrs.