“Love food. Love Life. Love Okku”… The hint’s in the wifi password at one of Dubai’s most buzzy Japanese restaurants.
It’s a favourite among the city’s bon vivants for its trendy vibes with dinners that famously turn into late night/ early morning parties, not to mention the hedonistic brunches here on Fridays… And as mother and I found, Okku proved to be a pretty good shout for a quick-fix Japanese lunch too!
Tucked inside the H Hotel, there’s something very up-beat yet laid-back about the ambience at lunch-time, with the restaurant drawing in an eclectic mix of nearby office goers, conducting meetings, and ladies who lunch.
Almost everyone was there for the generous “Tezukuri” weekday set-menu lunch, which includes miso soup, salted edamame, a small and large plate from the extensive selection (featuring all of Okku’s classics from ginger salmon sashimi to black cod) and a chocolate fondant. The only tough part of course, was choosing between the enticing options.
Although our lunch started off on a slightly bland note with steamed edamame and tofu pancakes (we found it to be lacking in any depth of flavour), it picked up soon thereafter with Miso Nasu Shigiyaki – a tender sliver of baked Japanese aubergine capped with a sweet miso glaze and a sprinkling of sesame seeds, an extra miso dip presented on the side. We loved the silky smoothness of the dish, which struck a perfect chord between savoury and sweet.
From the small plates, we also called for Horenso No Gom-ae – steamed spinach on a bed of sesame seed dressing. Fresh and wholesome, with a lovely nutty texture, there are few more delicious (or beautiful) ways to get in those daily dose of greens than with this Japanese classic!
Head Chef Kiichi took the time to speak with us during our meal, explaining his balanced approach to cooking, driven by a desire to bring a nutritional difference to the way that people perceive food.
Under his direction, the menu also reflects a broader set of Asian influences, particularly with the Korean-inspired Yasai BiBimBap and Chap Chae, both presented in bento boxes.
The bibimbap featured a hearty and incredibly filling mix of flavoursome veggies from bean sprouts to carrots to and courgettes, with rice and a poached egg on top. While Chap chae saw rice noodles stir-fried with shiitake mushrooms and bell peppers in a garlic-sesame soy dressing. Both were altogether quite a substantial affair…
… So it’s a wonder that we had room for dessert! Okku’s signature chocolate fondant, encasing a rich gush of chocolate, did not disappoint in this regard. I couldn’t resist a scoop of the sharp yet wondrously delicate matcha ice cream either, as well as springing for a refreshingly minty basil sorbet!
It was quite the power lunch. Safe to say that mother and I left suitably refuelled, ready to take on Dubai Mall with gusto.
Okku, 1st Floor, The H Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Trade Centre Area, Dubai
I was hosted by Okku, but as always hog full credit for my opinions.
I herd we were getting an Okku in London, I don’t know if plans fell through cos I haven’t heard more about it in ages.
Oooh Okku London, now there’s a heady thought! Here’s hoping talks are revived soon… Xx
What is it about miso aubergine that gets me every time?! I absolutely love it! And I love the combination of chocolate fondant and matcha ice cream too!
They’re two of my favourite things on a Japanese menu too, along with sesame-spinach! I just love that this cuisine is so vegetarian friendly … Xx