Golden Spoons Review: Taikun

| 26/10/2018 | 3 Comments

Taikun, CNS Local Life(CNS Foodie): Tucked away in a quiet corner, just beyond the splendidly decorated foyer of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, is an unassuming set of wooden sliding doors, which remain locked until 6pm each day. Once opened, this portal transitions patrons from the bright, cheerful environment of the adjoining Silver Palm Lounge to a dimly lit dining area with a subtle Asian theme.

Dark woods, black décor, and red and yellow accents deliver a distinctive elegance and offer a familiar setting found in many restaurants where sushi is the prime focus.

Upon arrival, we were met by a pleasant and professional hostess. She checked her list (reservations recommended) and summoned someone to escort us to our table, menus in hand. The focal point at the end of the room was an expansive sushi bar, where chefs were busily rolling various fish and veggies into the rice and seaweed layers as patrons looked on. A glass encasement showed the many cuts of brightly coloured fresh fish and seafood; raw slices of tuna, salmon and others were neatly arranged on platters awaiting selection for the next roll on order.

Taikun, CNS Local Life

Mai Tai (left) and Cumber Jacques

Booths and tables lined the walls, while a long table of 10 seats rose from the centre of the room, clearly designed to host larger groups or a multi-diner communal meal. Its mustard yellow chairs offered a bright contrast to the darker hues surrounding them.

Our waiter arrived immediately and our drink orders taken. I chose the Cumber Jacques ($14), a cucumber-infused gin, with St Germain, fresh watermelon juice and homemade basil syrup in an exotic and fresh medley. Served in a martini glass, it was sweet, punchy and delicious. My companion picked the Mai Tai ($14), blended with Martinique and Jamaican rums, orange Curaçao, lime, and fresh-made orgeat (a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar, and rose water or orange flower water). She was well pleased with her choice and our glasses were quickly emptied as we surveyed the dinner options on the menu.

Taikun, CNS Local Life

Wakame

When it comes to sushi, the process can be a bit overwhelming. You have to decide which type of protein: fish, shrimp (ebi), crab (kani), eel (anago); rice on the outside (uramaki) or seaweed (nori) on the outside (maki); or you can opt for nigiri or sashimi, sauce on top, roe sprinkled on the roll. The possibilities can be endless and confusing.

I like to go for tempura options filled or topped with several proteins – usually shrimp or tuna with salmon or eel. I love the drizzles, be it a sweet and salty glaze or unagi or a spicy mayo. Plain sushi rolls bore me, so I steer clear of them, opting for the specialty rolls, either unique to that restaurant or their take on the tried and true favourites, like the dragon roll or spider roll.

So with high expectations, we read each offering on the menu, recognising several combinations that we just knew we were going to pick. For the starter we opted for the wakame ($8), a standard seaweed salad with sesame seeds, and the gyoza ($16), chicken dumplings served with ginger, chili and soy sauce. The generous portion of wakame was chilled, crisp and sweet, while the four gyoza offered a hot chewy middle surrounded by a semi-crunchy outer layer. The filling was a tasty minced dollop of chicken and the chili sauce and soy gave it just the right punch.

We were ready for the mains.

Taikun, CNS Local Life

Gyoza

We both selected two sushi rolls – sometimes you just never know what you’ll get and one roll of about five or so pieces might not hit the spot. Because I like to choose items named after a restaurant, assuming that if they attach their name to it, they must be proud of it, I chose the Taikun rainbow maki ($19). The brightly coloured eight-piece rainbow roll came with Alaskan king crab, tuna, Atlantic salmon, Caribbean snapper, tiger prawns and Jonah crab, along with Hass avocado and cucumber.

My second choice was the dragon maki ($18). A go-to roll for me, the dragon came with shrimp tempura, BBQ eel, kabayaki sauce, Hass avocado, sesame seeds, cucumber and yuzu tobiko roe (fish eggs). The kabayaki was drizzled all along the 10 pieces of the roll, its sweet soy sauce-based glaze perfectly balancing the shrimp and eel, the latter of which was layered on top of the roll.

Taikun, CNS Local Life

Dragon (left) and rainbow maki

I found the fish to be very fresh and perfectly portioned. The rainbow roll had no accompanying condiment, so I dipped it into the soy sauce provided on the table. Light and tender, it was not overpowered by any particular flavour, instead allowing you to savour the natural tastes of each fish which were alternated along the length of the roll. The presentation was immaculate — crafted with care and arranged with distinction — showing that the chef took pride in his art.

My personal favourite was definitely the dragon roll, which packed more flavour and personality. I ignored the wasabi in the middle of my plate, but enjoyed the ginger, which was fresh and natural, not pink and processed.

Taikun, CNS Local Life

Tiger prawn (top) and volcano maki

My dinner partner ordered a volcano ($19), with ahi poke tuna, spicy salmon, shrimp tempura, cucumber, shiso leaves and orange tobiko roe topped with wasabi mayo and kabayaki sauce. She also chose the tiger prawn maki ($16) which featured shrimp tempura, cucumber, spicy mayo and orange tobiko roe. The volcano was spicy and delicious, the tiny orange bubbles of flying fish eggs encrusting the outer layer of rice. Each bite was a journey through textures and flavours that pleased the palate.

With chopsticks in hand, we zipped between plates, expertly snaring each delicious roll in a merry-go-round of activity, bobbing and weaving to avoid midair collisions with each other’s utensils. Some were dipped into the soy, others gobbled up without any additional seasoning. All were amazing. It was difficult to choose a favourite (but the dragon was definitely top of my list).

Our server was very polite and respectful. He kept a trained eye on our water glasses, refilling without request when he noticed they were getting low. He was quiet but attentive, not invading our space or intruding unnecessarily. His presence was muted but effective, as empty plates were deftly removed, there one minute and gone the next.

Taikun, CNS Local Life

Lychee ice cream

Our progress slowed as we gorged on the variety of sushi plated before us. Our chairs were deep enough that you could scoot back from the table, cross your legs and enjoy your beverage and conversation, with comfortable pillows nestling you into the curve. This was welcomed as we tried to catch our second wind, several pieces of each roll remaining on our plates.

The room’s atmosphere was low key: soft music in the background, with table chatter from other parties barely audible, presumably afforded by the high ceilings and relative emptiness of the restaurant. It was calming and enjoyable.

We attempted to finish the remaining sushi, but finally conceded defeat and asked for the bill. Our server returned with shot glasses of complimentary lychee “ice cream”. It presented more as a cup of sweet-flavoured cream and although cold, it did not resemble ice cream in terms of consistency and firmness. It also contained a mystery flavour that we could not determine — either a strawberry or raspberry that gave the dessert a red tinge — but we knocked it back.

Smiles all around the table, we paid the bill and headed out of the refined swank of the hotel, back to reality but happily sated by Taikun’s authentic and delicious sushi.

The total bill for two at Taikun was $154.44, which included 17% gratuity.

Taikun web page

Recent Golden Spoons Reviews

Golden Spoons Review: Taco Cantina

Golden Spoons Review: Taco Cantina

(CNS Foodie): After a day spent in East End enjoying a break and a change of pace, my partner and I decided a fitting way to end our little “adventure” was to try out the newest spot in the district, Taco Cantina. Turning into what may very well be the smallest parking lot in the […]

Golden Spoons Review: Full of Beans Café

Golden Spoons Review: Full of Beans Café

(CNS Foodie): I found myself running errands in “town” this week and had a few minutes to meet up with a friend for an early lunch. Busy as we were, we decided the place needed to be quick and easy to get to, so we decided on Full of Beans Café. Strolling in around 11:30am […]

Golden Spoons Review: Mizu Asian Bistro and Bar

Golden Spoons Review: Mizu Asian Bistro and Bar

(CNS Foodie): Asian food is some of the most satisfying food to eat. The sauces, textures and use of fresh ingredients are enough to make my mouth water at the thought of the perfect combination. I’m happy to say that I’ve found a few dishes at Mizu which confirm those feelings. Although the restaurant has […]

Golden Spoons Review: Tukka

Golden Spoons Review: Tukka

(CNS Foodie): One fine Sunday afternoon we decided to travel to the eastern end of the island to partake in the perennially popular ritual of

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Dinner, Golden Spoons Review

Comments (3)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    How do you justify giving Taikun and Taco Cantina the same rating for food and ambience?

    2
    2
    • Anonymous says:

      Why shouldn’t they get the same ratings? You are not comparing them directly but for the experience of that type of food. Does it feel like a Mexican cantina / does it feel like a Japanese restaurant. Is the food authentic

      1
      1
    • A Golden Spooner =0) says:

      The same way you would look at a horse and say “what a beautiful creature” then turn to a cat and say “what a beautiful creature”… Two very different animals in every way: size, build, purpose, sound…but both possessing qualities that qualify the rating and sentiment.

      I suppose you are one of those parents who has a favourite child because they do well in school and treats the one who isn’t so scholastic as a 2nd rate citizen, huh?!

      Ambience and flavour are not reserved only for 5* restaurants, dearie. It is possible to be a hole in the wall and still give off a great vibe and excellent food…

      Baffles me that I even had to write this reply.

      2
      1

You can comment anonymously. Please read the CNS Comment Policy at the top of this page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

SIGN UP FOR THE CNS NEWS LETTER, SENT EVERY WEEKDAY STRAIGHT TO  YOUR INBOX