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What Makes a Good Japanese Restaurant in Abu Dhabi and Dubai?

on 07th Feb, 2019

What are the 17 top qualities to look for in Japanese restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2019? 

Well beyond the traditional décor, popular rolls, and staple dishes such as teppanyaki and Teriyaki Chicken, there are a number of factors that make a traditional dining location stand out. The best sushi in Dubai is characterised by the extensive history of Japanese cuisine. Chefs often train and apprentice for ten years before taking the helm.

While each brings talent and originality in their own way, Japanese chefs take tradition very seriously. The best sushi, in Abu Dhabi and around the UAE, is centred around this rich culinary history. Here are 17 things that define a good sushi restaurant

Sushi Counter at Sono | Japanese Restaurant Abu Dhabi | Sushi Counter1. Comfort will be Paramount

With the overall focus of the food industry in 2019 being geared towards the customer, there will be far more need for comfort within any good Japanese restaurant in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The greater the comfort; the more immersive the dining experience. There are few cuisines that lend themselves quite so readily to that comfortable and immersive dining experience as Japanese food.

The immergence of a more comfortable Japanese dining experience will definitely take place in the best Japanese restaurant in Dubai. This comfort will no doubt find the form of new seating arrangements (following the ‘grazing table’ trend which will also be big this year) as well as a more customer-focused décor and interior. However, the best Japanese restaurant in Dubai 2019 caters to their customers, it will no doubt be a far more comfortable place to enjoy one of the world’s favourite cuisines.

2. Your Meal Should be a Sensory Experience

Beyond the food itself, enjoying the best sushi in Abu Dhabi and Dubai should leave a lasting impression. The presentation of your dish will be set in a purposeful way, highlighting each ingredient’s role in the meal. Often, chefs in Japanese restaurants incorporate inedible items such as branches or leaves to accent a meal. The lighting in the restaurant should reflect the mood that the chef intends to create.

Sushi restaurants located near large bodies of water should focus on celebrating the local mood and offerings, as well as those found in traditional Japanese restaurants. If you leave talking about how the meal made you feel, not just how good it tasted, you know you’ve stumbled across some of the best sushi.

Veggie Sushi Platter | Japanese Restaurant Abu Dhabi | Sushi Counter3. Vegetarian Sushi Reigns Supreme

In 2019, we will see more of the popularity in vegetarian dining that we witnessed in 2018. Unlike previous years however, we are now viewing vegetarian dining as much more of a mainstream ideal and it is therefore no longer such a specialised food type. Most world cuisines have readily embraced the vegetarian dietary need in 2019 and Japanese food is no different.

Japanese food and sushi are actually both foods that lend themselves quite well to the vegetarian diet as the meat or seafood that it is known for can be easily replaced with vegetables. Although there were a few vegetarian dishes on the Japanese menu, this year will see a rapid rise in the amount of dishes available as well as the number of customers that will be eating vegetarian Japanese food.

4. Sustainable Japanese Dining

The industry leading Japanese restaurants in Dubai in 2019 will be looking for ways to stand out to their customers and this can be in the form of sustainability. There will be a number of ways that these restaurants will be introducing sustainable ideals for their customers. Some restaurants will do this by creating a menu that is filled with more sustainable food items. Others will be achieving it by using more sustainable packaging for their delivery.

More businesses in the food industry including Japanese food chains would choose to use any sustainability measures to better cater to their customers. It will be sure to have nothing but a purely positive effect on the world we live in as well as on the customer experience.

5. Authenticity is Key

The need for authenticity is indeed amongst most traditional world cuisines and in 2019, we will only see it become even more important to the diner, especially the Japanese food enthusiasts. In a year that brings change across the board in the food industry, there will be a huge weight placed on the authenticity of any Japanese restaurant in Dubai.

To see what makes a traditional Japanese restaurant, click here.

6. Innovation Brings Fresher Dining

The Japanese dining experience in 2019 be refreshed and renewed with a host of innovative new ways to look at Japanese food. No doubt the various trends surrounding diet such as vegetarianism, veganism and the paleo diet will all find their way onto the Japanese dining table. This innovation that will be at the forefront of Japanese dining in 2019 will also centre around the customer and we will see various types of ‘easy-ordering’ and online delivery services become popular in the Japanese food world.

But 2019 will not simply see innovation change the way that food is ordered or delivered, no. this is the year that will see innovation change the food that is served as much as how we serve it. Taking into account new dietary needs, sustainable fishing and farming, new vegetable protein substitutes and a wealth of food innovations that we have seen over the past year or two, 2019 should have no end of innovative food ideas for the tables of the best Japanese restaurant in Dubai.

Fish | Japanese Restaurant Abu Dhabi | Sushi Counter7. The Menu Should be Centred around Fish

Japan is surrounded by some of the most bountiful waters in the world. As a result, their cuisine is very fish-centric. Which types of fish are used depends on the season, which we’ll discuss more, and a good chef will only serve the finest cuts of fish. Although many dishes, such as Yakitori and Ramen will have meat-based proteins like fish, the best sushi and Japanese restaurants highlight fish as the main protein in their dishes.

Look for different types of fish, and whether or not they are served raw. If the fish is fully cooked, particularly in many types of sushi, which may be because it isn’t as fresh as it could be. Some dishes call for fully cooked fish, but sushi is frequently served raw.

8. Seasonal Ingredients will be Used

Quality Japanese restaurants follow the tradition of season ingredients. Sushi Counter has the benefit of being located next to pristine bodies of water, meaning that ingredients used are fresh and represent what is currently available. Enjoy bamboo shoots in the spring and chestnuts in the fall. The best Japanese restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have access to the freshest ingredients from Japan and around the region. Your dish will be a true taste of both Japanese culture and Mother Earth’s latest offerings.

Menus may change multiple times per year to accompany the current season. Summer rolls may not be available all year. Accents and side dishes may also rotate in and out. This means that while you may not be able to get your favourite roll all year long, it is going to be in prime condition every time you do.

9. It’s All About the Rice...

The best sushi restaurants in Dubai, as anywhere, have mastered the art of rice. For many western countries, rice is merely an add-on or a layer of starch used to complement the protein. But for Japanese chefs, rice is the star. Each accomplished chef will have his or her own trademark way of preparing and serving rice.

Want to know how to distinguish good rice before tasting it? Look at the presentation of the plate. A heavy emphasis should be put on the rice. If you can see it, smell it, and actually desire to taste the rice before other parts of the dish, odds are you’re in a good spot. Even when wrapped in a sushi roll, the rice should stand out. In fact, the term ‘sushi’ actually refers to the rice, not the fish. If it’s hidden underneath the fish and slathered in sauce, that’s a good sign that you’ll want to dive deeper into the Japanese restaurants in the area next time.

Traditional Japanese Spices| Japanese Restaurant Abu Dhabi | Sushi Counter10. ...And Traditional Japanese Spices

Spices define the flavouring of quality Japanese dishes. Togarashi, chile pepper, miso, ginger, and Wasabi powder are very common at Japanese restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Authentic Japanese food is very easy to distinguish from most other styles. The texture, the smells, and the lingering tastes are created by the chef’s extensive training in the use of traditional spices.

Ginger is frequently used as a palate cleanser, which is why it usually accompanies sushi. When eating different rolls, a slice of fresh ginger in between bites allows for maximum recognition of the different tastes within each roll. Wasabi adds a bit of kick – and when complemented with soy sauce makes for a definitely Japanese flavour.

11. Quicker Delivery for All

In the previous years, we have seen that more and more restaurants are offering delivery services to the masses of customers who would now prefer to eat at home or at work. Although the trend of delivery services in the food industry has been steadily growing, this year will see the delivery services really stepping up to this almost unspoken aspect of food delivery; speed.

Of course we would like our food to be well prepared from ingredients of the highest quality, but the best Japanese restaurant in Dubai and throughout the country last year did not gain that title by simply doing what the rest did. No, they went above and beyond, and 2019 will be no different. In order for industry leading Japanese restaurants in Dubai to maintain the top spot, they will be aspiring to provide not only good delivery services but faster ones as well.

12. Superior Service

The customer is king in 2019 according to most people predicting what trends we will see in Japanese restaurants in Dubai over the next year and so there is little doubt that those customers will be given the best service that the restaurant industry can offer.

2019 will see an increase in the ways that restaurants attend to their customers. There will be a higher level of focus placed on how the customer’s needs are met and on the number of services that the restaurant provides. Services such as delivery and take-away will remain on the rise in the popularity charts.

13. Searching for Ways to Cater to the Masses

This focus on service and customer that seems to be so prevalent in the Japanese restaurant industry in 2019 means that industry professionals will be searching for yet more ways in which they can cater to the masses. Whether this is being done to better serve their existing customer base or to bring in new ones, the result will be the same; new ideas to better serve the Japanese restaurant diner. This can include improving the menu, services and many more.

14. Aura and Feel

A diner’s comfort should never be ignored and good Japanese restaurants understand this. They understand the restaurant’s “atmosphere” will certainly affect how the customers enjoy their experience. This common knowledge should challenge the best Japanese restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to stand out from their competitors by ensuring that they provide the best dining experience. This can include re-aligning fixtures, adding new furniture, or revamping the whole interior when necessary.

Japanese Tea Party | Japanese Restaurant Abu Dhabi | Sushi Counter15. The Tea Party Returns to the Japanese Restaurant

With tea being a big thing just about everywhere in 2018, there is no surprise that it is going to make a big return to the Japanese restaurant this year. Japan is one of the world’s homes of the original tea party, and although the Japanese ceremonial tea party is much more formal than those making waves today, the Japanese definitely know their tea.

2019 will be a year that sees customers of Japanese restaurants making the most of their host’s tea knowledge and adding more than a few cups of tea to their orders. Look out for the more specialised teas on the menu of the best Japanese restaurant in Dubai 2018.

16. Layering of Ingredients

The best sushi in Dubai and Abu Dhabi comes from restaurants where each menu item boasts a collection of top quality ingredients. Sushi Counter complements fish and rice with offerings of fresh vegetables, miso, and hijiki. While many Japanese restaurants focus on a small offering of dishes that they do very well, those dishes should be able to please wide audiences of diners.

This is particularly true in international cities in the UAE. Travelers from around the world bring their own expectations of great Japanese food based on what they have experienced back home, and what many of them have experienced in Japan itself. Part of a quality dining experience is being able to bring the family or an entire group, and have everyone be able to enjoy something on the menu.

17. The Desire to Come Back for More

This is what we’ve found really defines great Japanese cooking. The best Japanese restaurants leave diners jumping to come back. If you catch yourself daydreaming of that perfect sushi roll you discovered last weekend, you’re on to something. When a restaurant such as Sushi Counter successfully expands to multiple locations around Dubai and Abu Dhabi, that’s a sure sign that the ingredients are fresh, the menu is well curated, and the staff works hard to ensure a memorable dining experience.

You can also read here about a beginner's guide to Sushi.

What Makes a Good Japanese Restaurant in Abu Dhabi and Dubai?

What are the 17 top qualities to look for in Japanese restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2019? Well beyond the traditional décor, popular rolls, and staple dishes such as teppanyaki and Teriyaki Chicken, there are a number of factors that make a traditional dining location stand out. The best...