Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Damindra

The last time we were in Copenhagen, our cruise timetable gave us only a day to explore the city, so we were only able to visit Damindra, located conveniently in the heart of Copenhagen, for lunch. During our time there, we managed to chat with Damindra himself, the warm and very talented Sri Lankan owner of the restaurant, who encouraged us to come back for dinner, when the food gets kicked up a notch. Almost a year later, we returned, and we told him to give us the works. 

Tableware and flower arrangements designed by Damindra
Almost everything you see in the restaurant has been designed by Damindra himself, from the soy sauce containers with spouts shaped like the heart of orchids, to the beautiful flower arrangements all over. The whole space is filled with the clean lines of Damindra's aesthetic, and the light smell of jasmines that scents the warm towels given to you at the start of the meal. It's a very unique blend of Japanese sensibilities and Danish simplicity with Sri Lankan flair. 

We were started off with a complimentary cocktail of apple and lime with ginger liqueur,  cognac and shochu, which was a really special gesture from Damindra, who remembered us from the previous summer. Ginger is used in all the restaurant's signature drinks, harking back to the spices of Sri Lankan cuisine. It works well in the summer when the zing feels refreshing, and in the cooler weather the warming aspect of ginger is comforting. 


Our first course was scallops seared in sake with garlic and three kinds of mushrooms (Enoki, Shiitake, Matsutake) with a yuzu garnish. With the kitchen working mainly with fresh Scandinavian produce, we got really lovely big scallops that were naturally sweet, and well infused with the aroma of Japanese mushrooms. 


We were then given sharing platters of aburi (seared) sashimi of salmon and tuna with spears of asparagus, as well as lobster marinated with ginger, chives and Japanese bitter lemon. Lobster can sometimes be a bit dry, but this was well cooked. The seared sashimi pieces were also of a good thickness. The sauce that was served with the seafood was also highly fragrant. 


As the meal went on, Damindra broke out a bottle of Daiginjyo sake for us. 


As we slowly sipped our sake, we were served some snow crab nigiri with a spicy cream sauce. 

Damindra serves up rather experimental Japanese cuisine, although the principles and techniques in the kitchen are underpinned by traditional Japanese cooking. The end result is good and rather interesting foods. 


Then came the start of a long series of makis that we ate until we nearly could not move. The first was a soft shell crab maki with ginger, avocado, cucumber and tobiko (Flying fish roe), wrapped with paper thin slivers of daikon (Radish). Not realizing there were so many courses left, I stuffed my face with these. 


Next was a deep fried crispy salmon maki with ikura (Salmon roe) on top. The big warm maki was nothing I'd ever tried before. 


Then came the Madagascan prawn maki coated with wasabi toasted sesame seeds, topped with romaine lettuce and prawn tails. The prawns were really luscious. 


By the time the crispy tuna maki arrived, we could hardly lift up our chopsticks any more, but the rather interesting toppings like crab and tuna salad meant we still ate the lot. 


Up close

A discussion on miso dengaku and aubergines in general led Damindra to get the kitchen to create a final savoury surprise for us: pieces of foie gras aubergine nigiri. The eggplant soaked up part of the fat from the foie gras, which also oozed into the rice. A complete indulgence. 


I cleansed my palate with a help of a glass of plum wine before our dessert came. It was a tofu chocolate mousse with lychee sabayon, apple bits and fizzy pineapple with a white chocolate and pistachio crumble. The mousse and the sabayon were good, but the fizzy pineapple cubes made the dish for me. (Apparently a great deal of preparation went into the pineapple.)


It was wonderful to visit Damindra again and get blown away by the really outstanding service. I still think of the bottle of fresh ginger lemon juice he gave us as a parting gift with great fondness. 

Holbergsgade 26, 1057 København

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