These days there are a lot of sushi bars in Dubai. There are the sushi bars in shopping malls where you can grab a quick meal from a revolving bar – never my first choice. There are well-known restaurants that will deliver a delicious meal to your house almost anywhere in Dubai. And they have ingenious ways of packing the food so that it does not arrive spoilt even if you have ordered sushi and noodles. Then there are the more elaborate restaurants that provide a great dining experience in attractive surroundings.
Katsuya by Stark
My current favorite is Katsuya by Stark, which can be found in Dubai Mall. Don’t be put off by the location. From the door inside the mall, it does not look its best. But, if you go in the evening or during the cooler months, make sure to book a table out on the terrace.
The terrace hangs above the Dubai Mall Fountain, so you are in a prime position when the fountain springs into action. You also have a stunning view of the Burj Khalifa. And in the hotter months, an early booking will secure you a table in the floor to ceiling window area which offers the same stunning view, although the heat does get through the double-glazing somehow.
Katsuya is a fusion restaurant, although there is enough authenticity to please all comers. But, if you are brave, try the Brussel sprout starter. It comes in an irritatingly inefficient basket, but I manage to ignore that by eating with gusto. The sushi is fresh and delicious. The mochi ice cream, especially the green tea flavor, makes a visit to this restaurant a real highlight for me. Sadly, last time I was there, I ate too much and was not able to face even this most tempting of deserts. It does mean that I am heading back soon!
Sushi is all about fresh fish, sharp knives, Japanese rice, nori (seaweed) and the skill of the chef. Nobu offers all of this in abundance. There is even a chance to learn to make sushi with the head chef once a month. Of course Nobu is also a fusion restaurant, one of the most famous Japanese fusion restaurants in the world. The creator, Chef Nobu Matsuhisha, is no stranger to Dubai, so is able to ensure that the quality is maintained. This restaurant even offers a Japanese garden experience to be found nowhere else in Dubai.
Sushi in the Grand Hyatt, is a traditional Japanese restaurant in appearance even though it is inside a huge hotel. The plentiful wood and Japanese designed indoor garden add an air of authenticity and this is also evident in the food. The menu is relatively limited, which I always think is a good sign when you are looking for authentic Japanese food. It certainly reduces the risk of ordering a traditional dish and finding a fusion twist to it. I am not against fusion, but it is also good to get authentic Japanese food.
Sushi is highly acclaimed and has won well-deserved awards for its food. It is possible to see the chefs at work preparing sashimi and sushi just as you would in a sushi bar in Japan. However, keep in mind that the term sushi bar is no indicator of an inexpensive meal. If you want quality, you do have to pay for it.
Okku is a Japanese restaurant groaning under the weight of awards it has won. The décor tends toward minimalist chic, a style I am comfortable with. The policy of the restaurant is to source sustainable fish, a popular approach these days as the world begins to contemplate the impact of the fishing industry on sea life. It is not a traditional restaurant, so although you will get quality sushi and sashimi, there are many options to choose from.
Toko in Downtown Dubai, just down the road from Dubai Mall, is another Japanese fusion restaurant first launched in Sydney, Australia. This restaurant is a delightful place to eat in, as the tables are well spaced and the stainless steel kitchen is aranged along the back wall, meaning there is plenty see. There is also an outdoor area for the quieter months. The businessman’s lunch offers sushi, scallops and black cod among other things, so it is possible to put together a menu that meets your tastes.
The full menu also includes chawan mushi, a savory egg custard I adore. This particular version, being fusion, came with truffle shavings on top. Although I was not delighted to see this, it was an inspired addition.
Miyako is an excellent choice if you want to feel as though you are in Japan. There are several choices. You can eat in a traditional tatami room, but remember this involves taking off your shoes and sitting on the floor, not easy if you lack flexibility. There are also communal teppanyaki tables and a sushi bar. The nine course Kaiseki menu is a bargain at AED350 as this is top level Japanese cuisine. Each dish is meticulously prepared and presented. It is about the appearance as much as the flavor. There is a reasonably priced businessman’s lunch as well. For an authentic experience, this is an excellent option.
These are a few of the top quality Japanese restaurants in Dubai, but there are others you might be tempted by. Zuma has a great reputation and a great setting in the Dubai International Financial Center. Armani/Hashi is elegant in the extreme and more sedate.