Gilgamesh, Camden

Camden’s Gilgamesh has always been something of an enigmatic place, an exceedingly plush eatery with an elevator helping you glide up to the restaurant. Yet it is surrounded by Asian buffets with all you can eat for a fiver and your meal may be disrupted by the London Overground trundling its way onto Camden Road. But it is testament to the luxurious decor and settled atmosphere of the restaurant that it seems completely removed from its locale. My companion and I entered with some trepidation as the focus of the restaurant is pan-Asian food, which always suggests that rather than do one type of cuisine very well, they do a lot to a mediocre standard.

But oh how my prejudices were dismantled, well not so much dismantled as atomised and blown away. With each successive course, the restaurant showed off their prowess at mastering each of the cuisines of the different countries that make up the region. We started with sake salmon sashimi and the presentation set the tone for the rest of the meal. Rather than simply plumping the fish on a straw mat, this came riding on top of a dish with billowing dry ice. It kept the expertly prepared fish cool and scintillating to taste.

The next course was sushi and following the recommendation from the charming and knowledgeable waiter, we picked out the salmon avocado and king prawn tempura. These were so good that it set off a degree of competition between myself and my companion. Beforehand, there had been a healthy flow of conversation and bonhomie between us. Now, we were eager to stop talking and fill ourselves with the neatly prepared and fantastically flavoured sushi. Decorum dictated that we continued talking but we tried to finish our sentences as quickly as possible and get the other talking so that we could pick off more than our fair share. The recriminations from this may be felt for years.

For mains, we went for two dish-based dishes. These were the Chilean seabass, which was marinated in tamarind and miso and baked in hoba leaf, and steamed red snapper, which came with szechuan broth, bok choi and edamam. Both of these were exemplary, rich in texture and ingeniously paired with the accompanying flavours.

To round the meal off, we took a selection of desserts, which contained a chocolate fondant that was simply deranged in its luxurious taste. Alongside this fantastic creation were a ravishing apple and pear crumble, a sumptuous passion fruit crème brûlée and a divine green tea cheese cake.

While the food at Gilgamesh may range on the pricey side, it is well worth your investment. You’re not just spending your money on the excellent food, but on very informed service with the servers willing to provide suggestions that have an unnerving capacity to match exactly what you have been looking for.

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