Sushi lovers, I found one: a unique gem where your taste buds will be treated to an amazing feast! I can’t wait to take you to Hokkai Kitchen. Every bite, from the first to the last, was simply 100 percent hit.
Imagine a culinary master workshop under the inspired leadership of chef Kuniyoshi Ohtawara, a former chef at Amsterdam’s Okura. Only top-quality dishes are created here that surprise and conquer your senses. And oh, the Maguro – a masterpiece featuring five different heavenly preparations of the delectable bluefin tuna – is simply blissful in all its simplicity. The ingredient did the work. For me, the highlight of the evening.
My culinary trip took me to IJmuiden, a place you might not have expected for such a culinary treasure. Here, in this coastal village, is hidden possibly one of the best Japanese restaurants in the Netherlands. Amidst an old industrial area and among all the port activities, you will find this unique hidden gem. Getting here is almost an adventure in itself, and you really wonder where on earth you are going and what awaits you. You’ll understand exactly what I mean if you drive there yourself.
Standing in front of an old harbor shed and looking at that unassuming little restaurant, you are no doubt as surprised as I am at how such an unlikely location can host something special. But don’t let the looks stop you from seeking the entrance. The door can be found in an alley between two sheds where there are some wooden pallets.
Once through there, you enter a world of fish and seafood in refrigerators. Again, amazement and wondering if you are in the right place. In those first moments of doubt, you are greeted by the friendly hostess with a welcoming smile that immediately makes all worries disappear and reassures you that you are on the right path. “Yes, you are in Hokkai Kitchen. Glad you’re here!”
And then you step inside the restaurant, surrounded by the bustle of professionals in the kitchen. You feel it right away: something special is happening here, and best of all? You see it all happening right before your eyes. Because the restaurant has a completely open kitchen. I like that so much! Enjoy watching the chefs and their skills.
Ala carte menu or...omakase!
At Hokkai Kitchen, you have the choice of grabbing the menu and deciding for yourself what to eat. Or…..you put your trust completely in the hands of the chef and his team and go for omakase: What the chef serves you.
I gladly place all responsibility in the hands of chef Kuniyoshi Ohtawara and his team. And we absolutely did not regret it.
Flavorful dishes by chef Kuniyoshi Ohtawara
We begin the evening with the delectable Sake Nanban, a deep-fried salmon belly Japanese style to delight your taste buds. Because it’s certainly not just sushi that runs the show here. The chef is on a mission to introduce the Netherlands to the richness of washoku, Japanese food culture, especially the delicious grilled fish. And believe me, that goal is beautifully reflected in the menu.
Step two takes us to a colorful cocktail of salmon, tuna and kingfish sashimi, presented in an elegant black cocktail glass. This dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the tongue. The flavors dance on your tongue and leave you speechless.
Our next adventure takes us to a trio of grilled fish, with the Black Cod – black cod marinated in miso – completely stealing our hearts. I had not eaten Black Cod before. But what a blissful fish that is! It is a taste sensation beyond our expectations. The rice on the next three nigiri is perfectly prepared, each grain like a dance partner in your mouth. Together with the squid and tuna, these nigiri form a trio of absolute best.
One nigiri had a little too much wasabi hidden in it. That made for quite a spirited finish including tears in the eyes. Fortunately, we were able to mitigate that with a good glass of wine. Every disadvantage has its advantage doesn’t it!
As the fifth dish, we had one nigiri of my favorite ingredients from Japan: Grilled eel. Unagi Nigiri. I haven’t eaten these this soft and this rich in flavor anywhere. Next time I’m going to kindly ask how they managed that 😉
As icing on the cake, the Hokkai Futomaki simply completes this dish.
But wait, there’s more! The highlight of the evening for me is the unprecedented Maguro. Five different preparation methods of Bluefin Tuna are waiting to be discovered and tasted. Each bite is a symphony of flavor that leaves you enraptured. Fingerlicking good. How much I love bluefin tuna. Great job by the chef in letting the ingredient do its job without adding too much fuss. Pure. Rich in its own natural flavor.
Who is Hokkai Kitchen suitable for?
Many top chefs in the Netherlands already know the way to Hokkai Kitchen. Because this is definitely a restaurant for the true connoisseur of food. The connoisseur of fantastically good and pure Japanese food. It is a paradise for those who love purity of this cuisine: grilled fish, sushi, sashimi, and much more.
The kitchen brigade is a spectacle in itself, and you feel like you are part of something special as you wait expectantly for your next surprise. No wonder even Japanese expats flock here, as it offers a slice of home that irresistibly attracts them.
A visit to Hokkai Kitchen is not only recommended, it is almost a duty for any lover of sushi. Small warning: One time is not enough, because once you cross the threshold, you will be enchanted and want to return again and again. In any case, I can’t wait for my next visit! 🙂
Tip: Reserve a table in advance at Hokkai Kitchen
And, oh yes, a tip from me for you: definitely make a reservation before you go. This intimate restaurant has only a limited number of tables and has already been discovered by foodies from all over the country. Avoid disappointment and book in advance.
Address Hokkai Kitchen, IJmuiden, The Netherlands
Hokkai Kitchen is waiting for you, at the following address:
Egmondstraat 2, 1976 BR IJmuiden, The Netherlands
Phone: + 31 6 13 14 62 46
You can reserve a table through the website https://hokkaikitchen.nl/
So what are you waiting for? Let your taste buds dance and discover the culinary Japanese treasure chest called Hokkai Kitchen!