EAST MEETS WEST
Japanese aesthetics, bend-over-backwards hospitality, and swish contemporary comforts—it’s a flawless triple play the prolific Okura portfolio has executed for nearly half a century now. When the burgeoning hospitality group decided to venture past Japan's borders in the early 1970s, it looked towards The Netherlands, inspired by longstanding trade relations between Japan and Holland, as the site of its first European outpost. Today, that deep-rooted cultural alliance surfaces in myriad forms at the Hotel Okura Amsterdam. In the springtime, the terrace at the in-house brasserie, Serre, which usually trots out tasty Dutch pub fare, transforms into the backdrop for a traditional Japanese cherry blossom viewing party, enhanced by vistas of the neighboring Amstel Canal. At the onsite Nagomi Spa, where five treatment rooms wreath an indoor Zen rock garden, patrons can choose from an extensive healing menu, where highlights include lotus-scented exfoliation treatments and Shiatsu massages. Though the hotel’s roof, an unmistakable example of zany but highly functional Dutch design, confirms you’re most definitely in Amsterdam: it doubles as the country’s largest barometer, courtesy of an LED light display that changes colors according to the next day’s forecast.
In the springtime, the terrace at the in-house brasserie, Serre, which usually trots out tasty Dutch pub fare, transforms into the backdrop for a traditional Japanese cherry blossom viewing party.
TOKYO, WITH A TWIST
No one embodies Hotel Okura Amsterdam’s unique cultural mélange better than chef Masanori Tomikawa, who helms both the property’s Michelin-rated Japanese restaurants. At Yamazato, a kimono-clad staff serves impeccably plated creations that seasonally rotate in a nod to the dainty meals associated with Japan’s ancient noble classes; a more casual and animated grilling experience awaits at neighboring Sazanka.
For Tomikawa, who cut his teeth as a porter at the Okura’s flagship in Tokyo before landing in Amsterdam in 1984 to pursue his culinary ambitions (he credits his parents, who ran a Tokyo bookstore, for fueling his obsession with food—the family often ate out piquing his interest in the restaurant scene), adaptability contributes to his continued success. At Sazanka, he’s enlisted sommeliers, typically uncommon fixtures at teppanyaki joints, to circle the lively dining room.
And instead of adhering to the rigid rules that steer traditional Japanese kaiseki menus, at Yamazato, Tomikawa offers diners a gently edited spin on established practices. The result is a breathtaking, multi-course extravaganza that is equally authentic and avant-garde, much like the sleek, metropolitan high-rise it calls home.
To learn more about Hotel Okura Amsterdam, or to reserve a table at one of the hotel's five restaurants, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.