This Is The Best Restaurant In Dubai That You Probably Haven't Heard Of (Yet)
There's an overkill of the phrase 'hidden gem' going on in Dubai...
So I'm not going to sit here and use it...BUT, I'm happy to report that we've found a lesser known (doesn't have quite the same ring does it?) spot in Dubai that you're going to want to know about.
Located in the Sofitel Downtown, Wakame is a stylish Asian inspired restaurant with the cocktail-menu-to-end-all-cocktail menus, a relaxed fuss-free attitude and some seriously impressive food. Here's everything we loved about it (and one thing we didn't)
You feel like you're sitting in an edgy Asian restaurant in the middle of New York city
Why? Because this spot has got cool and contemporary down to a T. From the modern 'greige' (grey and beige obvs) artworks, the numerous over-sized black bird cage lamp shades on the ceiling, the striking circular and horizontal design throughout and the slick adjoining bar (we'll get to that later)...
Business lunchers in for a quick bite would love the high top bar stools, perfect to get a better look at the chefs in action, the big square dining booths are ideal to host a 'Dubai family' get together and smaller tables in the centre of the restaurant would suit smaller parties.
How do you feed your Dubai family? With a sharing menu of course
The menu is a sharing concept, perfect for big groups and parties. We started with a sauteed exotic mushroom dish with crispy taro root and black truffle miso and then some super crispy rock tempura with spicy mayonnaise...always a crowd-pleaser.
We also had a seriously good spinach and cream cheese dim sum - each starter was individually impressive: order a couple, grab your chop sticks and dig in.
Specialised imported produce made this dish a cut above average
The chef used yuzu truffle and a special eggplant imported from Japan to make one seriously fantastic salad. I'm not a massive fan of burrata cheese (yep...I'm aware that's pretty much a crime if you live here in Dubai) but this dish was egg-cellent (sorry). The eggplant was crispy on the outside and super soft on the inside, apparently you can't achieve this texture with regular old Dubai eggplants, so these ones had to imported all the way from Japan. Worth it.
Flaming the sushi wasn't the best call
Have you seen those amazing chocolate puddings that break open and just ooze chocolate sauce that are all over Instagram? So all restaurants should serve Instagram worthy dishes, because an Insta-worthy dish basically means free publicity right?
Which might (but probably not) be what they had in mind with the next dish. Our chef arrived to flame a beautiful veggie maki roll and naturally we snapped the entire display. But while it definitely looked cool (our Snapchat account thanks you) warmed cheese on top of the maki didn't work for us. Next time we'll have it torch free.
For mains we had an incredible oven roasted Chilean seabass with jalapeno and ginger marinade unite
Grilled chicken assorted mushrooms and truffle teriyaki
And Miso caramel cheese cake for dessert
The adjoining bar is slick, and could hold its own as a stand alone bar without a connection to Wakame
There's no such thing as a brief glance at the drinks menu here...it's huge and exotic with ingredients like Wakame Peanut Butter Bourbon, fresh Fujian lychees and saffron & lemon foam all grabbing attention, but the the staff are more than accommodating and happy to help you navigate this foreign spread.
We visited on a dry night so made do with some mocktails, and while the addition of fresh colourful fruits was a bonus, we couldn't help but feel disappointed that we were missing out on the real thing.
So what sets Wakame apart?
There are PLENTY of fine-dining options in Dubai with the likes of Catch, Zuma and Okku all within a stone's throw away. But Wakame isn't trying to be five star. It's a relaxed environment, but the contemporary design adds an edge and the fantastic food makes it a must visit.
When should you visit?
Do like the New Yorkers do and go for a business lunch - 3 courses for AED 125.
Or go for dinner; when small sharing plates start at AED 70 and mains start from AED 85
Cocktails start at AED 65
Call 04 224 6663 to make a reservation