I am big fan of Japanese cuisine and furthermore, Japanese culture. So, I thought it would be appropriate to launch this Restaurant Review column by something I personally love…and maybe by the end of this column, I would have managed to pass this love on to you!
Under Review Today :
Bonzai Japanese restaurant – Holiday Inn, Nicosia, Cyprus
Address: 70 Rigenis street, 1212, Nicosia, Cyprus
Reservations: 22712712 (Hotel reception number, please ask for Bonzai restaurant)
Open daily. Lunch 12:30 pm – 15:00. Dinner 18:30 – 23:30
Tuesdays: SUSHI night at Peninsula SUSHI bar, Bonzai restaurant closed
Parking: across the hotel
DEFINITION: Bonsai is a Japanese delicate miniature tree which is cultivated in small pots and shaped in various styles.
NEWSFLASH: Japanese is NOT all about sushi. If you get freaked out by the idea of eating raw fish, well, guess what; some sushi is cooked! Sushi is also very healthy, low in fat, high in vitamin D. No wonder Japanese people live till they are 100!
After being escorted by the friendly Asian waitress to my table, I realised to my surprise I was sitting in front of the chef! No, I wasn’t escorted to the kitchen, but the kitchen was right there in front of my eyes. A teppanyaki cooking plate was perfectly fitted in between the corners of the traditional island table I was sitting at. (see picture). Good thing about this abstract way of arranging customers is that everyone can see the chef from different angles. Plus, you get to socialise with all sorts of people who are sitting right beside you or even across from you. Bad thing about sitting so near the cooking area is that your clothes smell of food after you have enjoyed the cooking show.
One can tell that a lot of effort was put into the interior design of this restaurant to create the illusion that one is situated in the heart of Japan. Bamboo sticks and small water fountains, traditional Japanese music in the background and low lighting create the perfect atmosphere to enjoy your meal. The temperature of the restaurant is neither hot nor cold, it’s moderate and you can easily speak with your friends without shouting.
After carefully scanning through the menu, I decided to order Ebi Sushi for starter, Teppanyaki Chicken with Egg fried rice and cooked vegetables for main course and a Crepe with cooked fruit for dessert. I soon tasted the Ebi sushi, which are cooked prawns on vinegar rice with hot wasabi sauce and ginger shavings on the side. After about 20 minutes, the chef approached my table and repeated the order to double check. He soon began some excellent tricks with the salt and pepper containers, as well as some magnificent tricks with a meat knife and a large fork. I found those very entertaining as well as a very original way to begin the food cooking ritual.
Not forgetting the Japanese cooking philosophy “cooking everything as little as possible to maintain its original and true taste”, I was first served the cooked vegetables; cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and coloured sweet peppers cooked in garlic butter, white wine and something the witty chefs call ‘coca-cola’ which is probably soy sauce. Maintaining their crunchy nature and all the natural flavourings, I couldn’t resist but to gulp them down using my chop sticks.
Teppanyaki in simple words means ‘cooked in front of your eyes’, hence, chicken teppanyaki comes next. Tender Argentinean chicken pieces cooked to perfection with spring onions in a light soy sauce with a hint of pepper tickled my taste buds and left me wanting for more.
As I was eating my lovely chicken, the chef in front of me decided to crack the eggs for the egg fried rice, in a very interesting way. He used a flat metal spatula to throw the eggs, one by one, in the air and as the eggs accelerated downwards he turned the metal spatula on the side, such that the thin width of the spatula cracked the egg in half, leaving the egg shell on the spatula but releasing the yolk on the teppanyaki plate!! Amazing! He then carried on cooking the rice and shaping it into a heart, since a couple was sitting at the table he thought that would be appropriate, until the egg was cooked.
Last but not at all least, the chef cleaned the teppanyaki plate, started cooking my fresh fruit and poured the pancake mix. After all was done, he decorated the serving plate with a scoop of ice cream. De-li-cious. That’s all I can say.
I left the Bonzai restaurant with a fat belly and a fat smile on my face, as well as a fat wallet. For all this, it cost me approximately 25 Euros. Don’t freak out – It’s a three course meal and it’s a Japanese restaurant in a hotel in the centre of the capital! Now really, is that too much when you weigh everything out?
You can always do the ‘trick’ me and my friends do whenever we go there but are not too hungry. We order various meals like the one above and share them, so we get to try different plates.
Sapporo Japanese beer is also available so if you are a beer taster, that’s the place to go. Different flavours of homemade Japanese ice-cream
and sorbets are also available.Handmade and homemade Sushi, Maki rolls, Sashimi rolls, Teppan Yaki and Teriyaki dishes occupy a large section of the menu as well as the large variety of noodles and rice side dishes. Set menus are also available at a reasonable price which is perfect for large family gatherings.
Whether you are Vegan, Vegetarian or Meat lover, you’ll definitely find something to eat at this restaurant. One restaurant satisfies all.
Hope you all enjoyed reading this, please leave your comments =)
And remember, life’s too short to eat bad food so… a Fat belly is Fat smile!