Monday, February 22, 2010


The first time I went to Nikko I remember thinking it was not as good as many people had told me it was. Fortunately I've been back several times since and I've come to realize that this is one of the better Japanese places in Cologne. It's in a small shopping arcade, a bit out of the centre of town, but nevertheless seems to be consistently busy. Luckily for me it is close to where I go for japanese lessons.

Although the sushi here is very good, this is not just a sushi place and the menu actually has a wide range of different dishes to offer. These days I always have difficulty choosing (no surprise to anyone who knows me) and usually ending up eating too much (also no surprises), so as not to miss out on my favourites.

Starters such as yaki gyoza (fried dumplings) and tako su (octopus ad cucumber in vinegar) are consistently good for getting the juices flowing. There is also a tasty grilled mackerel which always comes high up my personal list of options.
I find it hard to resist the tempura, which is excellent here, or the fresh and tasty sashimi and excellent nigiri sushi, so I have yet to try many of the main courses like katsujyu (breaded pork and egg on rice) or tori no shougayaki (chicken in ginger sauce). But I'm hoping to go often enough to try everything at least once!

At the weekend I opted for one of the excellent fixed menu meals, the Momo. This comes with 5 small vegetable starters, each delicious and with a contrasting range of flavours. Then sashimi - delicious but a little smaller portion than I remember having before. Next deep fried tofu in soya sauce. I was a bit suspicious of this the first time I had it, and didn't expect much in the way of flavour. Turns out to be very good indeed and a nice complement to the courses on either side. The main dish is teriyaki beefsteak, which was a very flavourful and beautifully cooked. I was unable to resist supplementing my meal with four nigiri sushi at that stage (toro, unagi, saba and hamachi), all of which were excellent, and with a generous portion of fish. The toro (fatty tuna) was especially good. However, by this stage I was unable to manage my final course of green tea ice, but fortunately one of my companions was happy to oblige.

If I had to ask them to improve one thing, it would be the speed of service. Nikko gets pretty busy in the evening and the gaps between the courses can get a bit extended, which is OK if you are there for a leisurely meal, but can still be a bit frustrating. The sushi chef gets especially stacked up with orders, but when you see the beautiful, and large, platefuls he comes up with, it is no surprise that he needs a little time.

All in all, a great place that requires repeat visits.

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