The Shortlist

Downtown Toko, Vida Downtown Hotel
Best Newcomer
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With the likes of London's Zuma and Sake no Hana already open, Dubai is no stranger to a chi chi take on Japanese dining. Joining that elk is Australia's answer to this trend, with Sydney-born concept TOKO at Vida Downtown Dubai. Suitably elegant with a slickly simple wood clad decor and a Zen garden-esque al fresco dining area, TOKO serves izakaya-style plates that are designed for sharing. The traditional Japanese dish dengaku nasu (miso roasted aubergine) has an interesting dichotomy of red miso with a salty, mineral tang on one half, and white miso with a caramel-like sweetness on the other. Boneless chicken wings are an elegant alternative to this usually messy dish, with nicely crisp skin. From the robata grill, the smoked miso salmon is a lovely dish, with crispy skin, plump, juicy flakes and full flavoured miso sweetness and softly woody smokiness. While it is hard for high-end Japanese to stand-out in Dubai's miso-saturated market, TOKO is certainly a strong contender.
Open daily noon-3.15pm, 7pm-11.30pm. Vida Downtown Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, (04 442 8383).

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