Insider food news in Dubai

Japanese restaurant invasion, brunch season is back and Rhodes Mezzanine birthday

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It looks to us as though Dubai is turning Japanese. Next week marks the opening of new venue Yuraku, welcoming to our city a traditional Japanese eating concept that’s rarely represented outside of Japan: the izakaya. This type of restaurant is essentially a cross between a gastropub and tapas bar: food is more of a focus than in your average bar, but constant snacking and sipping throughout the evening are standard. Scheduled to open on Saturday Septemeber 15, at the Asiana Hotel in Deira, Yuraku will also offer karaoke.

New Media City-based venue Sushi Counter, which threw open its sleek wooden doors last week, is already in the process of launching a second outlet. In contrast to its first bijou sushi bar, the new Sheikh Zayed Road venue will be a huge split-level, wide-windowed affair. It will offer a similar menu, with plenty of downstairs dining space. The crucial difference will be the upstairs area, which will operate as a hotdesking communal workspace, with Wi-Fi and a built-in library, ’70s-inspired custom-designed furniture and vintage wallpaper. The new venue is also opening on Saturday September 15 – it’s going to be a busy day in Dubai for Japanophiles.

Miyabi Sushi and Bento, which already has one Californian-influenced venue on Sheikh Zayed Road, is also expanding: a new branch is due to launch in Media City in October. And, in case you missed it, there’s also the new Japanese joint TOMO coming to Raffles in Oud Metha in October.

Brunching season is now back with a vengeance, and with it comes a few new brunches to try. The Mövenpick Hotel Deira has ditched its brunch at Wok In, instead launching a new Friday event at Jigsaw. It will offer the expected international selection, with stations for sushi (there it is again) and live cooking. If that doesn’t whet your whistle, try the new evening brunch at Mistral at the Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate. The surf-and-turf-themed event will offer live music too.

It’s also a season of celebrations, with several birthdays coming up. On Sunday September 16, global hotel brand Raffles kicks off events to mark its 125th anniversary. While the Dubai venue isn’t quite this old, it will join in with the festivities by offering a year of nostalgic promotions, including specialities and mixed drinks, dating back to the 1880s.

This week, Rhodes Mezzanine celebrates its fifth birthday with a visit from chef Gary himself, and a five-course themed menu for Dhs500. And looking ahead, La Petite Maison in DIFC celebrates its second anniversary with performances from the Gypsy Queens, a band that performs regular residencies at the restaurant’s branches in Nice and London. Until next week, bon anniversaire and bon appétit!

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