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Food review: An enchanting evening of Japanese culture at Niko

Delectable cuisine, a great view and evocative dancing at the Mondrian Hotel, Cala Llonga

Greeted by the open arms of a gorgeous geisha, resplendent in a dazzling silk kimono, it was immediately obvious we were going to be treated to something a little different as we entered an already busy Niko restaurant in the Mondrian Hotel at Cala Llonga.

This small, family-friendly village is fast becoming a mini gastronomic destination, with a quality and quantity of restaurants per square metre rivalling that of the most upmarket resorts on the island. And with this new addition, Niko has now added a dash of Eastern spice to the palate.

Recently renovated, the Hyde/Mondrian hotel complex, overlooking the pretty beach, is attracting a trendy and youthful crowd. One vector of that strategy is through the stomach. Guests now have the tempting choice between avant-garde Mexican cuisine at Cuyo at Hyde or fresh and vibrant Japanese at Mondrian. As you will find out, both are excellent in their own right.

Musically, the evening began with the resident DJ spinning some mellow Balearic tunes before moving into new territory with a flow of Japanese electronic music - a quirky combination of House and J-Pop. Throughout the night, the soundtrack was accompanied by a sequence of shows involving our geisha, her billowing fans and a trio of seductive dancers that became increasingly risqué as the evening progressed. It made for an interesting and engaging diversion between the many courses, and the time seemed to fly by.

A quick browse of the wine and cocktail list revealed at least 15 top-quality sakes and a tempting array of cocktails, many containing Japanese whiskey, helping to set the scene. We plumped for a Bataa cocktail, with light and golden Nikka Days whiskey, caramelised miso and oolong tea, an Umeboshi, a plum-infused gin fizz with an aromatic spray of jasmine soda, and a Kurumitsu, a Japanese take on a classic whiskey sour. Each was expertly blended and had the signature dryness one would expect.

Niko has transformed the Mondrian Hotel’s panoramic restaurant into a minimalist dream, bedecked with paper lanterns and with the essential open sushi preparation area. It looks and feels like an authentic environment to enjoy Japanese food. However, considering the recent proliferation of Nikkei restaurants on Ibiza, would the Niko menu and the quality of the produce stand up to comparison with some of the illustrious competition?

Our waiter insisted we try the Niko carpaccio of hamachi (yellowtail), and we weren’t disappointed. With slices of crunchy daikon and cured in sweet truffle and chive oil, it was a subtle new take on this increasingly popular dish.

We could not resist sampling the almost compulsory sushi selection. Our trio of nigiri were topped with plump and meaty langoustines with a fizz of wasabi, slivers of delicate sea bass fillet, and, for this writer’s first time, beautifully presented squid - the finely scored strips had a uniquely plastic yet yielding texture, bursting with saltiness. The sashimi bowl included fresh and tender mackerel alongside the more familiar tuna and salmon.

A couple of glasses of Les Argelières Chardonnay were ideal to give a light and citrus balance to accompany the raw fish plates.

Iberian pork katsu, with white cabbage and sticky black garlic sauce, was a great sharing dish and added a little more weight to the meal.

Finished off by the waiters at the tableside, Niko’s special fried rice is decadently luxurious and contains cubes of tender Wagyu beef, a coddled egg, and some foie gras.

Saving the best for last, our unanimous favourite dish of the night was the stack of aubergine firecrackers. These very spicy sticks of deep-fried aubergine were soft and gooey on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside, with a sweet and oozy sauce full of hot red and green chillies.

Our brace of desserts included a very tart yuzu granita, with hazelnuts and a jasmine mousse, and a delicate pistachio cake, topped with a salty sesame tuile and paired with soft rice ice cream. Both were very fresh and summery, and our resident geisha would approve!

Mondrian Hotel has made a very bold statement with Niko restaurant, striking just the right balance between atmosphere and authenticity. Aside from the consistently high quality of the cuisine, the decoration is on point, the entertainment engaging, and the atmosphere lively. It all adds up to a fun and fulfilling night out in one of Ibiza’s most up-and-coming resorts.

If you're looking to boost your Ibiza holiday with an exotic treat, book your table at Niko here.

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