Is there a big demand of Japanese cuisine in Dubai lately? Judging from the number of new Japanese food joints, authentic or fusion, opening in Dubai lately, it definitely seems so.
And of course, we are always curious to check it out. We already have a favorite Japanese restaurant that we frequently go to but it sure doesn’t hurt to explore new ones.
We visited ‘Atisuto‘ (the colloquial Japanese version of the English word “artist”) at the Galleria Mall in Al Wasl for lunch.
The concept behind Atisuto is based on the back-alley sushi restaurants found in Japan’s big cities, where the bustle of city life and creativity of the cuisine combine, creating a fast-paced, unique atmosphere. I love the rustic feel from the fixtures used – aged wood and earth tone colors of the cutlery. We instantly felt we were dating in Japan way back when we were students. Hmmm.
The place was bustling at 12:30 pm, most of the diners were non-Japanese so we were curious because that usually means two things: (1) the taste is not authentic for native Japanese or (2) the place is new and not many Japanese in Dubai may have not known about it yet.
We started to order, ready to delve in. The menu looked good – lots of varieties and the price is fair, not overly priced at all.
Nasu dengaku (miso glazed eggplants) – this is with a tinge of yuzu which made it very tangy and unique. Careful, this broiled eggplants are hot!
It’s been a while since we had yakitori (tender chicken pieces skewered together with spring onion), in teriyaki sauce. I could write a lot about this that would consume this whole blog post but, you should really try this when you go there. For AED38, it is worth every bite. It’s also worth mentioning that the coals used to grill this is not normal coals but rather lava rocks from Mt. Fuji in Japan (no kidding).
We’ve been to many Japanese restaurants, some in major hotels, either independent restaurants or buffet themes offering Japanese cuisine…but THIS makes a difference: a resident Japanese chef.
Chicken ramen (AED48) – the description says noodles and chicken in “jigoku” soup. Jigoku means “hell” in English and it was indeed spicy hot but not too hot to handle. The husband is meticulous to all thing Japanese food but this ramen’s consistency and taste passed with flying colors.
And now for the main event…what we came here for. You can’t really judge a Japanese restaurant without ordering sushi, maki (roll) or sashimi, can we?
Sushi platter called “Takusan” (AED165). The ones pointed by arrows has nothing raw in it, which I am happy about as I don’t eat raw…yeah, yeah, yeah, 10+ years in Japan and my tongue is not mature enough for this…that’s why had to take the husband to judge.
So, what we have to say about this? It looks fresh and perfectly made, already impressive even before touching it.
These sushis are kampeki (perfect!). The staff at the sushi counter were all Filipinos but mind you, they got a really GREAT training from the executive chef who’s Japanese. Sushi looks simple to make: cut some fish, mold some rice and put fish on top of it, right? Truth is, the process is more complicated as it sounds. Every little detail matters: the quality of the rice grains, the way it is cooked, molded by hands (it should not be squeezed too tightly or else moisture escapes and you get a hard, dry sushi) and the presentation, of course.
Get this sushi platter to sample a little of the many varieties of sushi, probably good for 3 people. We barely can finish this and we all know we need to reserve a spot for dessert!
Mochi ice cream in coconut and green tea flavor (AED32)
We were there for a good 2 hours and there wasn’t an empty table.
Atisuto, being far different from the usual Japanese eateries in Dubai could really spice things up in the battle for that new and hip Japanese food joint and with the quality of food and value for money, this restaurant has a promising future in very competitive Dubai dining scene.
All these words but I should close in three: You. Should. Go.