Mark Lomas04 Nov 2018 AT 12:28 PM

Akiba Dori review: Dubai's Japanese fusion restaurant with a twist

The Design District-based restaurant is an attack on the senses in all the right ways
Mark Lomas04 Nov 2018 AT 12:28 PM
Food, Dubai, Japanese, Restaurant, Review
Food, Dubai, Japanese, Restaurant, Review

Akiba Dori's neon lights, arcade games and anime characters adorning the walls ensure the influence of Tokyo can be keenly felt in both décor and menu.

While Japanese food is, of course, a key part of Akiba Dori’s offering, it is a clash of culinary cultures that makes this restaurant stand out.

We’ll be honest, the concept of Japanese pizza worried us a little. We had visions of crusts stuffed with sashimi and margheritas draped decoratively with udon noodles. Fortunately, this fusion is a lot less frightening.

At the Dubai Design District eatery, pizzas are made in traditional Neapolitan style by Italian chef Luigi, but his dough is created using Japanese ingredients. The ‘Tokyopolitan’ pizzas are then cooked with bullet train-esque speed, entering and leaving the 500-degree wood-fired oven in less than a minute.

Akiba Dori pizza at Japanese fusion restaurant in Dubai

There are plenty of recognisable varieties, including Bufala and Diavola but the 5 Formaggi is the pick of the bunch. A cheesy feast that brings together mascarpone, tallegio, parmesan, gorgonzola and smoked provola, it is surprisingly light. The base is perfectly thin and crispy, while a drizzle of acacia honey ensures a pleasant sweetness cuts through.

There are staples like chicken katsu curry, yaki soba and sushi, but it is the ‘street food’ section that really pulls us in. Taking the fusion theme further west, the wagyu tacos are superb – crunchy homemade tortillas are generously stuffed with yuzu-marinated beef, avocado salsa, caramelized onions and chives.

Wagyu stars again in the katsu sando – a dainty tribute to the humble sandwich. Strips of prime Japanese beef are coated in panko breadcrumbs, and served on toasted bread with honey katsu sauce for dipping. The four quarters are rapidly dispatched and a second plate promptly ordered. Elsewhere, the shrimp salad sees prawns perform impressively in crispy spheres alongside mixed greens, and a fiery wasabi dressing.

Akiba Dori interiors of neon lights

Japanese desserts are often quirky. Tokyo’s colourful Harajuku district is famous for rainbow candy floss the size of a small dog and slabs of cheesecake wrapped in crepes. With that in mind, the prospect of a fish-shaped waffle at Akiba Dori seems relatively ordinary. The Taiyaki – so-called because it is designed to look like Tai (Japanese sea bream) comes in three flavours: Nutella/custard, mozzarella/Nutella and for a local twist, Nutella/halawa. We opt for the former and combination of chocolate, sugar and hot waffle is impossible not to enjoy. Akiba Dori certainly is a feast for all the senses.

Three dishes to try
5 Formaggi Pizza

Let your first Tokyopolitan experience be this cheese-heavy work of art.

Wagyu Katsu Sando
Does anything in life say ‘you’ve made it’ like a wagyu beef sandwich? Just. So. Good.  

This fish-shaped waffle may look a little odd but for those with a sweet tooth it is a perfect pescatarian pudding.

Akiba Dori
Building 8, D3
Contact: +9714 770 7949