The United Arab Emirates is a foodie’s paradise. Abu Dhabi and Dubai, specifically, have been chosen as the central locations for world-famous restaurant chains. Additionally, gastronomic trends thrive in the capital and the City of Gold.
Therefore, if you will be visiting Abu Dhabi for holiday or a weekend getaway, you definitely should include a food trip in your itinerary. There are so many cuisines to try, from beloved Emirati to Instagram food, to fusion, to authentic Japanese fare.
Japanese Dining Experiences in Abu Dhabi
Speaking of Japanese cuisine, Abu Dhabi is known for having the best sushi restaurants in the entire MENA region. You can get an extensive variety in a platter. Not only that, but these restaurants also have other menu offerings that harmoniously go with your sushi platter.
If you want a taste of Japan while in Abu Dhabi, (because why not?), make sure to visit these top restaurants. But to get more out of the experience, it’s best to learn how you can fully enjoy Japanese cuisine.
Here are 6 great tips from chefs and gourmands:
1. Don’t add anything to your sushi.
If you have never tried sushi before, you may be inclined just to follow what other people do, which is to dunk the sushi in soy sauce. For your first try, enjoy the sushi as it is. Relish the freshness of the raw fish or seafood and the well-prepared rice.
One of the best things about sushi is that it’s the epitome of high-quality food preparation which, according to chefs, should always be about the preservation of the ingredients’ natural flavors and texture. Sushi is one of the foods that will allow you to experience the authentic taste of good quality ingredients. So at your next Japanese meal, eat your sushi as it is.
2. Ditch the chopsticks.
Most people are unaware that sushi was originally eaten by hand. It’s finger food, and people only use chopsticks for hygiene reasons. But, if you go to an authentic Japanese restaurant where you can wash your hands, or are given a hot towel, you can skip using the chopsticks for sushi.
Just pick the sushi up with your thumb and middle finger and pop the whole thing in your mouth. This is so much better, especially if you are still getting the hang of eating with chopsticks.
3. Add just the right amount of wasabi.
Top sushi chefs always say that wasabi plays a significant role in the enjoyment of sushi. You must be able to taste and feel the wasabi’s effect in just the right amount.
It makes for a more refined and refreshing taste. Start a little conservatively and gradually add more until you find the right amount of wasabi that beautifully hits the spot.
4. If possible, sign up for a dining experience wherein you’ll be served directly by the chef.
Some of the best Japanese dishes are the ones made by and served straight from the chef’s hands. If you end up in a Japanese restaurant where you can have this experience, sign up for it.
There’s a big difference between sushi that’s been made to wait a couple of minutes before being delivered to your table and sushi that was prepared in front of you and served after it was assembled. The seaweed is crunchier, and the rice and fish or seafood are still in the perfect temperature.
5. Try the seasonal fish or seafood.
Whether you are eating sushi, sashimi, ramen, or braised or grilled dishes (which are other must-try dishes in a Japanese restaurant), ask about the ingredients that are in season and order the dishes they come in. Grab the opportunity to eat dishes with ingredients that are in their best quality.
This is a fantastic way to broaden your gastronomical perspective and learn what top quality ingredients are supposed to taste like, such that even the parts that are typically thrown away are delicious enough to eat.
6. Order the recommended beverages.
Green tea and sake are the best beverages to pair with Japanese food because they simply go together. If your server or the chef recommends beverages to drink, trust their suggestion (make sure you have your alcohol license!). These people know what they are talking about and their suggestions are sure to be aimed to enhance your dining experience further.
A City of Authentic International Flavors
You’ll be happy to discover that you can have an authentic Japanese dining experience in Abu Dhabi; it represents just how culturally diverse the capital is. Also, this proves that there are indeed no boundaries when it comes to food — international cuisines can take root anywhere, and the fusion of these cuisines is inevitable.
If you want a full experience of Abu Dhabi, you simply cannot do without exploring the local as well as international flavors that it offers.
Chiara Bisignani is the F&B Marketing Executive at Saadiyat Beach Club. She oversees website maintenance, PR requests, marketing initiatives and all general guests’ enquiries for the company’s destinations of KOI Restaurant & Lounge, Boa Steakhouse and Caramel Restaurant and Lounge in Abu Dhabi.