This Is The Best Restaurant In Dubai That You Probably Haven't Heard Of (Yet)

Screenshot 2016 09 25 At 10 41 17 Pm

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)

Screenshot 2016 09 24 At 9 10 47 Am

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.

Screenshot 2016 09 24 At 9 07 19 Am
Screenshot 2016 09 24 At 9 08 43 Am

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. 

Screenshot 2016 09 24 At 10 16 58 Pm

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. 

Screenshot 2016 09 24 At 9 10 27 Am

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. 

Screenshot 2016 09 24 At 10 18 51 Pm

For mains we had an incredible oven roasted Chilean seabass with jalapeno and ginger marinade unite 

Screenshot 2016 09 24 At 10 17 50 Pm

Grilled chicken assorted mushrooms and truffle teriyaki

20160910 202227

And Miso caramel cheese cake for dessert

Screenshot 2016 09 24 At 10 19 48 Pm

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.

Hanabito
Pontianak

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

Written By

Casey Fitzgerald

You'll find Casey teaching a class full of kids by day and eagerly restaurant hopping by night. Always excited about unique dining experiences, she never eats at the same place twice...

Comments