I was really looking forward to our visit to Meisei as I hadheard the quality of the food is excellent and this restaurant has a reputation for being out of the ordinary.
I tried very hard not to have any preconceived ideas and I was delighted by the modern décor, beautiful lighting and comfortable seating. Our group of four was immediately seated at a window booth but unfortunately had to move as the air conditioning was set to super-chilly in our area. Once re- seated in the centre of the restaurant, comfort levels went up and I could concentrate on making my selection from the menu.
The grape selection was varied and extensive and covered both fine (super-expensive) and more conventional choices but certainly good enough to suit any palate. Our favourite juice, lemon and mint, was also on offer and was perfect.
The menu was deceptively simple, with a good appetiser selection and then on to a diverse range of main courses including a great collection of more typical sushi, sashimi and maki choices.
On the spur of the moment, we decided to choose the Peking duck with pancakes, cucumber, spring onions and sauce as a starter to share, it appears on the menu as a main course. A great decision! The duck arrived at the table presented on a large plate and our waitress made an excellent job of shredding the meat off the bone. We made short work of it although the sauce was described as a vinegary and a bit runny. The vegetarian member of our party chose the edamame (soy beans in the shell) which were presented with a spicy sauce and an extra pile of napkins as you eat them with your fingers. We all tried them and they were indeed delicious.
The Japanese have a reputation for doing things a little differently and this restaurant has facets of oddness which give it a unique atmosphere. The most obvious is that you can see the chefs at work behind a wall of glass and every one of them, immaculately dressed, was sporting a Perspex mouth hygiene guard. At first glance I thought that they were wearing apparatus to support a broken jaw and felt momentarily sympathetic until I realised my mistake. Following on the unusual clothing line, the waitresses were modelling beautiful mint- green fitted linen dresses which looked great, however the eye was drawn to the hem where a perfect rectangle had been removed to expose one knee.
I smiled watching the presentation of our main course choices. I don’t use the word presentation lightly as every component of the meal was bestowed upon us with grace and attention to detail. The bottle of water was treated with as much care as the grape and food! The serving of prawns was generous and they were big, fat and juicy although perhaps a little overdone. My friend ordered herb-crusted veal and said it tasted as good as it looked. Our vegetarian guest had ordered the quesadilla which she described as a delicious Asian take on one of her favourite dishes. It was light and crispy and had dipping sauces and cheese on the side. The chicken ordered by our companion arrived in an outsized, high-sided bowl which made eating it a bit awkward however, it was scrumptious. We had also ordered a side of vegetable noodles and a bowl of wasabi mashed potato, neither of which were on the menu but our waitress assured us that this was not a problem. The noodles arrived piping hot and yummy but the mashed potato was sadly absent. It finally appeared with murmured apologies and was eaten on its own with gusto.
Too full to really appreciate a desert, we ordered one portion of banana chocolate brownie to share - light, moist, delicious and so pretty.
Afterwards, investigated our surroundings in more detail. The restaurant is spread out over three floors. The top floor is open and is more of a bar, although food is served in a lounge area. A DJ was providing the music with the views of Manama being quite stunning although, at this time of year, I’m afraid I found it just too hot even though they had several fans spraying mists of water. On the middle floor smoking is allowed and I realised this area was much busier as patrons had gone straight upstairs to be seated and there was more of a party atmosphere.
A fantastic setting with good service and food and I would definitely go again but for a special occasion as it was a little pricey.
The bill (for two) Peking duck BD10.000 Edamame BD3.000 Prawns BD15.000 Quesadilla BD7.000 Vegetable noodles BD5.000 Wasabi mashed potato BD5.000 Banana brownie BD2.500 Water X3 BD7.500 Total (Not inc service) BD55.000
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com