Japanese cuisine has been one of the most loved cuisines in the world because of its usage of versatile ingredients. With the diverse culture of Dubai, it was an easy feat for Japan to give us havens of their gastronomical delights.
Positioned in the upscale Le Meridien Dubai Hotel and Conference Centre, Kiku has been serving the most authentic traditional Japanese cuisine in the Emirates for more than 20 years already. The distinct mixture of their imported Japanese ingredients made this award-winning restaurant a cut above the rest.
Upon entering this chic restaurant, a black banner of their logo, featuring the Chrysanthemum, can be seen hanging from the ceiling. A glass display of a large antique Kimono is seen too before proceeding to their dining area, giving a feel of Tokyo in Dubai. The view of their wide selection of Sochu speaks of elegance as seen from the outside of the restaurant and the dining area is dimly lit which allows customers to feel relaxed while listening to lounge music.
The Zen-inspired and minimalist interiors give every bit of what it’s like to be transported in the tranquil spots of Japan while the traditional art and displays of Japanese ornaments create a glimpse of its rich art and history.
Quite of number of flapping bird origamis are hanged as decors on top of our round dining table with a rotating center, which is aesthetically pleasing.
Kiku doesn’t only boasts of its rich culinary heritage but also by giving their guests a moment of dining to remember. They have the Teppanyaki table for the Chef’s live cooking, giving an immersive experience to guests with their culinary talents while preparing their food.
The Live Sushi Bar, on the other hand, will leave you amazed with the authentic Sushi, Sashimi and Tempura flavors that you can relish.
For a more authentic Japanese way of dining with privacy, guests can choose to dine in their Washitsu rooms with tatami mats too.
Visual food presentation is as important as the food we are eating. Japanese food has been known to be served in small portions but that doesn’t take away this restaurant’s aesthetic yet clean presentation which just adds to more excitement to savor the food.
While they prepare for the food, they first served us with the ultra-famous Piña Colada with a fun twist of cherry on top. Wherever you are in the world, Piña Colada will transport your senses back to the beach, which is quite relevant for this season as Dubai’s summer is about to end. Its fruity flavor and smooth texture will make you want to sip up to the last drop. Guests can opt for a Virgin Piña Colada too for a nonalcoholic alternative.
The Butabara, translated to pork belly, is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. It was richly marinated and grilled to perfection that you can savor all the flavors of it. The Asparagus & Bacon was savory and crisp. The bacon overpowered the taste of the asparagus but we really can’t argue with the fact that it is delicious.
Next, we dived into their famous Butabara Kimchee. Who doesn’t love Kimchee anyway? This one is not the ordinary Kimchee that you get to taste as the veggies are mixed with pan-fried pork belly which adds a distinct flavor to it. The spice is just right, allowing you to eat more than what you think you can.
Just as we thought that we’ve tasted some of the best served dishes of Kiku, we fell in love with their Takoyaki and Dragon Roll. The Takoyaki, an iconic Japanese street food, is a must try in this chic restaurant because of its unique flavor and tenderness. Its explosion of flavors will leave you wanting for more. Try not to get addicted to it though. The Dragon Roll, on the other hand, is every bit of heaven especially when you get to munch on the crunchy Tempura roll inside.
The Japanese food experience wouldn’t be complete without trying a Bento Box. Their Ume Bento consists of Tempura, Sashimi, Grilled Fish, Pan-fried pork belly with Ginger sauce, Braised beef with Potato, steamed rice served with Miso Soup and fruits. While the idea of a bento box is convenience, it is significant to point out that the variety of food is well balanced.
08 IN Ume Bento
Kiku’s Yaki Gyoza did not disappoint too as it is packed with a meaty flavor. These fried dumplings are crispy on the outside, adding a more delectable taste. The Tori Kaarage is tender and tasty which goes well with steamed or fried rice. This boneless dish is easy to snack on too.
The Nigauri Miso Yitame came as a surprise as the bitter gourd is not that bitter at all. The pan-fried bitter gourd tastes sumptuous along with the tender pork belly and miso paste topped with Bonito flakes. It can be eaten as it is but it’s also satisfying to eat with steamed rice too.
For the dessert, we enjoyed the Mochi in Matcha flavor which is a sweet treat for those who love its very soft and chewy texture. The Matcha flavored Ice Cream is also great for those who adore its bittersweet flavor. The matcha taste, however, is a bit strong and there’s only little sweetness on it.
Kiku did not leave only our palates more than satisfied – we are more than glad too with the staff. They were friendly and very accommodating, which basically reflect to what Japan is also known for – being hospitable. They look after their guests with care which extends beyond common courtesy. Service undeniably gives an impact for the customers’ dining experience.
Value for money
Despite Kiku being situated in a luxurious hotel, their food rates are favorable and not that expensive at all. They offer good for your pocket menus without compromising your appetite and they surely will leave you pleased.
With Kiku being in the food industry for more than two decades and counting, it has cemented its position in bringing authentic and traditional Japanese culinary heritage in the tables of Dubai – one that you must not miss while staying in the sandy Emirates.