The city boasts an overwhelming number of Japanese restaurants offering delicious food. But, to us, there is only one go-to destination for Japanese cuisine: Okku.
Merging delightful dishes with an elegant interior, Okku is the perfect place to hang out with friends for a weekend cap, a special occasion or just a simple catch up. It’s buzzing with modern yet dim and ambient lights, sleek decors, and the chill-out music playing in the background makes you relax, allowing far more hipper venue to chat and eat.
But for us, we went there to indulge in a culinary delight, and so we did. It was practically a new menu – a long list of amazing take on traditional Japanese food – that greeted us. Overwhelming, at first, but we took on the challenge of tasting the decadent array of dishes. Kick starting our dinner was a bowl of tender edamame beans flavoured with truffle and teriyaki sauce, and a bowl of green bean with yuzy-truffle aioli. Edamame is a staple Japanese starter we always munch from everywhere we can get it, and must say that this Okku version is one of the best in the city.
Moving on to salad, a big bowl of greens, avocado, cucumber, red onion and tomato, drizzled with wafu-soy vinaigrette, and topped with generous shreds of lobster greeted us. The other salad – the Taraba Salad – was something, though. Perhaps, it’s the crab, but the Yuzu-truffle vinaigrette delivered an authentic note of truffle oil to what was essentially a fresh-tasting dish.
At Okku, we discovered, the courses are divided into small plates and large plates. It was almost a case of gluttony, we admit, but we had to taste a bit of everything. But we forgot our inhibitions in eating a long list of courses when the delicate portion of pinkish red salmon sashimi came to our table. The slices of meaty fish were spanking fresh – just the way they should be, particularly when eaten raw. And the shredded ginger and sweet yuzu-soy sauce provided a welcome clarity on the palate.
The crispy pieces of tofu tempura paired with citrusy mushrooms and creamy wasabi was worth noting for order in our next visit. While the crispy prawn, scallop and shiso rolled with yuzu sweet chilli kicked our taste buds without overpowering. The duck tataki and beef carpaccio offered seemingly tender bits of meat, but the fish won our hearts in the small plates category. The Hamachi Truffle grilled rice cake served us yellowtail tartar with right amount of spicy mayonnaise, masago, soy black truffle on a grilled rice cake.
The fun continued on when the large plates were served. The pearly white steamed seabass cooked with Asian leaves, ginger, leek and garlic sesame soy-vinegar was just as refreshing, and filling especially when taken with Shiso steamed rice. The other dishes were equally successful: the crispy in the outside, soft in the inside grilled in miso-soy ribs, the wagyu steak extremely well cooked on a sizzling and authentic Himalayan salt stone, and the huge pieces of miso grilled lobster stuffed with prawns.
Finally, the four-hour dinner almost came to a close with desserts being served. It was a combination of passion fruit and ginger crème brulee, lemon sorbet, chocolate and sesame sorbet, green tea tart, and a cup of comforting Jasmine flower tea.
The Okku experience was synonymous to any Dubai experience – opulent, lavish and wonderful. Its new menu we savored included a long list of names, some familiar while others were complete never heard of. Yet we enjoyed every bite, each of which was taking us to gastronomic heaven, resulting for us to silently wish that every meal we’d partake was as good as those Japanese delights.