Taiko at the Conservatorium Hotel recently revealed its new Taiko ingredient of the year: Soy. If you aren’t familiar with the restaurant, Executive chef Schilo van Coevorden takes a new ingredient at the start of every Chinese new year to highlight in his menu. From wasabi to wagyu and last year’s king crab, we’ve seen numerous of ingredients decorate the menus at Taiko. So we were eager to find out the latest love of Schilo – which so happens to be soy.
Soy is a much underrated ingredient. It is used heavily in Asian cuisine but here in the Netherlands, it’s mostly popular in soy milk (as part of the healthy movement nowadays). As a Chinese, I grew up with lots of soy in my food. From soy sauces in Chinese dishes to soy beans being used in tofu dishes and even desserts. It’s an ingredient that not a lot of chefs would dare to take on as a highlight ingredient. But we’ve seen amazing things from Schilo before and know he is capable of taking soy to a whole new level.
The new menu showcases the Taiko ingredient of the year in every form. We start with a soy mille feuille – a crispy soy dish, lightly salted and very reminiscent of vegetarian dishes found in the Chinese kitchen, mixed with samphire. My mother would love this! Then there’s the ‘sprouting soy’ dish, with bean sprouts, an uni mousse and drops of yuzu to cut through the sweet flavours. A mouthwatering dish. We move on to the sashimi dishes we know and love from Schilo – blue fin with kombucha, wasabi and the newly released Taiko soy sauce. The kombucha paired well with the Taiko soy sauce, which has a light note of kombucha and seaweed.
The menu continues with tofu foie – a play on foie gras – with miso and umeboshi. I loved this dish – it was light and the toasted brioche it was served with added just the right crunch. The umeboshi though, gave it body. We move on to the porcini cappuccino with egg foam and a mushroom XO sauce – a rich and creamy dish! At this point, the mains enter of scallops, silken tofu and Cantonese style beef with oyster sauce and xiao long bao.
We end with a fresh lychee popsicle and a dessert of dark chocolate with hazelnut and miso. The latter was mind-blowingly good. The miso added a beautiful balance of umami to the sweet dish. The menu couldn’t have ended on a better note.