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A Nikkei feast

Chef Luis Rojas with Anne Dunkelgrün and friends.

Text and pictures by John Dunkelgrün

A great dining experience requires a careful balance between flavours, quality of the ingredients, presentation, ambiance, and a welcoming service. Blue Blood at the Hilton has managed to get it all just right.

Hilton’s bar, The Hague.

Entering through a huge hippodrome-shaped bar that wouldn’t be out of place in New York or Hong Kong, you come into a low-key dining area where, if you are lucky, you get a table with a view of the canal.

While the bar is big, bright, and lofty, the restaurant proper is intimate and restful. You can hear your footsteps, you can hear your companions talk.

John and Anne Dunkelgrün with friends at Blue Blood, HIlton The Hague.

The staff is proficient and warmly welcoming. Being guided to our table, we passed a sushi-bar that made our mouths water. We lucked out with a table at the window. It was a balmy evening and we saw the Ooievaart boat slide by and watched people canoeing and paddle boarding. We were totally relaxed, even before the drinks arrived.

The real secret behind this restaurant is its chef. Hilton The Hague has managed to lure Chef Luis Rojas away from Abu Dhabi, where he wore the Toque at the Hilton restaurant on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Chef Rojas has worked all over the world, but was trained in Lima, which has become the epicenter of great cuisine in Latin America.

Chef Luis Rojas, from Blue Blood.

Blessed with a long coast teeming with fish and seafood, its cuisine was inspired by a large Japanese immigrant population that has thrived in the country for well over a century. The fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine became known as Nikkei Cuisine blending the many varieties of corn, potato, and chillies with local herbs, fish and seafood.

The development of Nikkei was helped by Le Cordon Bleu School of Cooking in Lima, which has produced hundreds of top chefs for restaurants all over the Americas.

Chef Rojas, a big amiable teddybear of a man, exuded enthusiasm about the Nikkei tradition. We had ordered the tasting menu, which was organized in waves of dishes rather than in courses. Each ‘wave’ was a feast to the eye and its individual dishes were a true taste sensation.

I am not a restaurant critic and will not give a dish-by-dish description. You must really try for yourself the spectacular presentation and WOW-delicious flavors of each successive wave.

I have been lucky to dine in in top restaurants all over the world, but this evening just blew our party of four completely away. The experience was so special, that I just had to share it with you.

Meeting Chef Rojas is a pleasure in itself. He is very good at describing his creations vividly and clearly, while charming you with obvious pride in his creations.

The Hague has really gained a dining experience of international standard. Chapeau (or perhaps ‘toque’) to the chef, his kitchen brigade, and the wonderful restaurant staff.

Dining at Blue Blood with Chef Rojas’ Nikkei cuisine, is something you really must not miss.

Chef Luis Rojas, John and Anne Dunkelgrün and friends.

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