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

on 10th Apr, 2017
What are the top qualities to look for in Japanese restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi? 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 eight things that define a good sushi restaurant. 


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.


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, that 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.


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.


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.


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.


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. Travellers 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.


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 Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

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