Dubai is the ‘premier league of restaurants’, says Taiko founder

Published: 22 November 2020 - 10:45 a.m.
The opening of Taiko at Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk is a return to Dubai after 20 years for Schilo van Coevorden and a return to what he calls “the premier league of restaurants”.

Having opened the first restaurants in Wafi’s pyramid two decades back, van Coevorden is hoping to put the location on the culinary map as a dining destination. Invited by His Highness Sheikh Mana bin Khalifa Al Maktoum to open a venue in The Obelisk, Taiko joins Brasserie Boulud in the new hotel.

Van Coevorden said: “I am proud to be in the same hotel as a super star chef such as Daniel Boulud, I am honoured that my concept and my name are on the same door. He of course cooks French cuisine with a New York twist whereas we are looking at Asia and a bit of the Middle East.”

Taiko is an Amsterdam-born concept, but founder and executive chef van Coevorden hasn’t simply transplanted it from the Dutch capital to Dubai.

“When I began trial cooking around four weeks ago and started preparing the menu, I wanted to bring with me a few dishes from Amsterdam. However, I quickly realised that what is special in Amsterdam, isn’t necessarily special in Dubai, because Dubai is the premier league of restaurants and Amsterdam is more of a local league – if you will,” he said.

“So, we had to up our game and bring a much more international flavour to a more advanced palette, especially when you consider that all of the major players within this culinary realm are in Dubai. Additionally, we wanted to bring something unique to the landscape, we wanted to add a local touch to the flavours; this is something we don’t see anyone else doing and I have a huge passion for it.

“Having said that, the base of high quality, creative Asian cuisine is the same across both restaurants. The essence of the restaurant in Dubai is the same, the only difference is in Holland we adjust to Dutch products and here we adapt to the local market.”

Unlike some of the other ‘celebrity’ chefs that have opened restaurants in the UAE, van Coevorden has committed a significant amount of time to Taiko and expects to be on site for a week each month. He said: “I want this restaurant to succeed and have an impact towards Wafi and my commitment to the owner.

“I’ve always been of the opinion that restaurants play a big role in the Dubai community both for travellers and discerning locals alike - it is part of the culture so to speak. A lot of people in Dubai are self-educated foodies and that’s why I love to come here.”

Having just had its grand opening last week, Taiko and van Coevorden are now stepping up to the challenge of finding its role in Dubai’s restaurant community.

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