Sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki and more of the best Japanese food in Dubai
Time Out Dubai staff
Armani/Hashi Few restaurants boast a spot in the world’s tallest building – even fewer at its very foot, sitting next to The Dubai Fountain. Armani/Hashi’s unique setting is indisputably impressive, and you can expect a menu as visually tantalising. At how many other restaurants are you likely to come across foie gras spring rolls? It’s the kind of place to try something different, and not head straight for the sashimi list. The robatayaki and teppanyaki samplers allow you to do just this, featuring a selection of top quality seafood, chicken and wagyu and Angus beef. Open daily 7pm-11pm. Armani/Hotel, BurjKhalifa, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3888).
Chez Sushi A bright and airy sushi and bento spot just a stone’s throw from Safa Park, Chez Sushi is the casual Japanese dining venture by the people behind swanky Jumeirah eatery ShoCho. Friendly staff happily guide customers through the menu, which features dishes ranging from classic maki rolls and teriyaki mains to contemporary fusion dishes such as ceviche and calamari salad – all made fresh to order. One of the best features of the menu is the option to custom build your own rolls – which will either be a great success or utter failure, depending on your ability to combine flavours. Creating your own also allows you to choose healthier options such as brown rice, and your own toppings and dressings, from California-style cream cheese to tangy yuzu to Mediterranean spicy lemon. The thoroughly famished won’t be disappointed by the salmon teriyaki bento, which features a generous serving of fish fillets, tuna sushi, salmon sushi, California maki, tempura and mixed greens. While we won’t blame you for wolfing it down, do leave room to try the café’s ever-changing selection of Japanese KitKat flavours, such as green tea. A satisfying lunch indeed. Open daily noon-midnight. Al Wasl Road, www.chezsushi.com (04 380 5780). Other locations: Silverene Tower, Dubai Marina (800 78744).
Tomo Tomo is surprising in several ways. First, you might expect that a restaurant – Japanese, no less – sitting at the top of one of Dubai’s most recognisable hotels would be expensive. It is not. You might expect it to be exclusive. Nope, not that either. Is the food not that good then? Actually, it’s pretty great. Grab a table on the terrace for views that stretch all the way from Dubai Festival City to the towers of Sheikh Zayed Road, and while you take them in, tuck into excellent value and delicious mains, many served bento-style, accompanied by sides ranging from kimchi to edamame. Open 12.30pm-3.30pm, 6.30pm-1am. Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 357 7888).
Katsuya Created by a dynamic duo in the form of master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi and renowned designer Philippe Starck, Katsuya is not at all what you might expect from a mall restaurant. It’s stylish, carefully laid out and a million miles from boisterous food courts and eateries lining The Dubai Fountain. The menu is much the same, a thoughtful combination of classics and more unusual fusion dishes – though it’s hard not to take exception to (and by confused by) the fact that here, surimi is advertised as crab, particularly when real crab itself also features throughout the menu. One of the stand-outs is the edamame hummus – a delightful example of Far East meeting Middle East. The overall experience is exciting and refreshing – it’s a joy to not quite know what to expect. Open daily 11am-midnight. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 315 3633).
Kiku Welcoming staff, cosy corners and an army of Japanese diners – first impressions earn Kiku major kudos. Get a table near the bustling kitchen and watch as chefs send out huge bowls of steaming, fragrant ramen, huge, crisp tempura and lean basted meats bursting with umami flavour. Lunch time is a noticeably busy period for the restaurant, which sits just across the road from Dubai’s incredibly busy airport. But back to that ramen, which, it must be noted, boast the absolute tastiest broths we’ve encounter anywhere in the emirate – it’s the sort of dish that will have you going back, and then again and again. A rich chorus of prawn, garlic and salty soy, but with more complexity than we’ve come across in any other restaurant. Also not to be missed is the tenderloin steak set – a riot of flavours – with tender meat served alongside crunchy beansprouts, and heavenly soft squares of tuna sashimi. But really, it’s all good, and not-at-all unreasonably priced. Go now. Open daily 12.30pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-11pm. Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, Airport Road, Garhoud (04 217 0000).
Nobu Named after its famous founder and head chef, Nobu may have been open for a couple of years now in Dubai, but even with this city’s typically fickle crowd, it still feels like the place to be on any given Thursday night. Packed to the rafters with a moneyed crowd, the restaurant ditches austere Japanese minimalism in favour of cosy sofa-style seating and large, almost rustic wood tables, while the kitchen fires out chef Nobu’s best-known and loved dishes, from miso black cod to a yellow tail sashimi and jalapenos, through to soft shell crab tempura, served atop squares of sweet watermelon and dressed with a tangy amazuponzu sauce. If you’re a fan of Japanese and fusion cuisine, a meal at Nobu’s has to be done at least once. Open Sat-Wed 7pm-11pm, Thu-Fri 7pm-12.30am, Friday high brunch noon-4pm. The Avenues, Atlantis The Palm (04 426 2626). Brunch: Dhs395 (with soft drinks), Dhs595 (with house beverages). Fri noon-4pm.
Okku Long one of Dubai’s coolest nocturnal haunts, Okku is a swish, stylish nightspot knocking out excellent food. While the crowds may pour in on Thursday and Friday nights for fancy drinks and moody surroundings, there’s no need to reserve your sampling of this fusion fare only for the weekends. Throughout the week, the restaurant-lounge is open for lunch as well as dinner, with an excellent-value tezukuri lunch, with varying numbers of courses. Try the ebigyoza to start, and stick with the seafood theme for mains – the black cod donburi is delicate yet filling, not to mention fantastically tasty. If you’re just around for nibbles, order the organic salmon carpaccio, with tender slivers of the Scottish fish layered with daikon cress, cherry tomatoes and an intriguing shiso-yuzu pesto. Brilliant service is the icing on the cake – everything’s brought to the table with haste, a beaming smile and even a bit of banter if you let them know you’re in the mood. Okku may be stylish, but it’s not too cool to show you a good time. Open Sun-Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-12.30am; Fri-Sat 7pm-12.30am. The H Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.okku.com (04 501 8777).
Sho Cho ShoCho’s location, overlooking the sea at Dubai Marine Beach Resort, is stunning. The outdoor area is bathed in low, blue lighting and the place can be very romantic. The food is good, especially the starters. Edamame beans are always a safe bet for an appetiser and prove so here, also good are the vegetable gyoza, the dumplings filled with shiitake mushrooms and fried until crispy. A must-try appetiser is the softshell crab spring rolls, which are inventive and tasty. There’s a wide selection as far as sushi and sashimi goes, and while it might be tempting to go for one of the sharing boards, with a selection of deliciously fresh fish, you’ll probably get more variety by ordering separate dishes. Open Sun-Fri 7pm-3am (last food orders 11.45pm). Dubai Marine Beach Resort and Spa, Jumeirah 1, www.sho-cho.com, (04 346 1111).
Toko Toko ticks every box. The setting is fantastic, with a stylish, atmospheric garden area, as well as a quieter indoor space in view of the open kitchen. The ambience suits the decor; there is a buzz about the place and it is clearly a hit with the beautiful people of Dubai. Staff are swift and friendly and the food is superb. The flavours, imaginative ingredients and quality of produce are hugely impressive as is the range of dishes on the menu. There are many sushi and sashimi options, as well as tempura (try the huge prawns with dashi broth), meat and fish dishes. The miso salmon is a house favourite, but try the Alaskan crab as well; the white meat is topped with a zesty citrus crumb that will make your taste buds come alive. Everything is presented beautifully as well. Toko is an exciting, stylish place to eat fabulous food. Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, www.toko-dubai.com (04 442 8383). Brunch: Frinoon- 4pm. Dhs365 (with soft drinks), Dhs450 (with house beverages and Japanese beverage), Dhs535 (with one bottle of bubbly per two guests).
Zuma A multiple award-winner and established force in Dubai, Zuma hardly needs introduction. Located in the city’s financial district, it’s a classy, contemporary and enormously popular hangout for the UAE’s most affluent residents and visitors. While its much-loved brunch may have been off the cards since summer 2014, Zuma is still pulling in a regular lunchtime crowd, but it’s in the evenings (weekend and indeed midweek) where this place really comes into its own as the bustling heart of the neighbourhood. Each and every dish on the menu is consistently impeccable, from starters such as beef tataki and prawn and black cod gyoza to mains including yuzu pepper jumbo tiger prawns and spicy tenderloin, right through to green tea desserts, everything that comes out of the kitchen is so faultless it’s almost fantasy. But have your date pinch you – because this is the real deal. Open daily 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-12.45am. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 425 5660).