Honyaki opens at Madinat Jumeirah
Dubai; Hurrah – finally a licenced sushi joint arrives in new Dubai! Honyaki (translates to the sharpest of all Japanese knife blades by the way), has opened at Madinat Jumeirah Souk replacing Caviar & Prunier. So FooDiva and fellow foodie The Hedonista grabbed lunch by the window overlooking Madinat’s amphitheatre and meandering canals. It’s teeny, almost capsule-like with a bright red and cerise pink decor, but with a huge outdoor terrace; a tad too hot for daytime munchies though.
It’s a ‘tick your selection’ menu, à la Jumeirah Restaurants’ very successful Noodle House concept and created by Chef Keneth Lim (ex-Nobu London). Note, Honyaki is managed by Madinat Jumeirah as opposed to the company’s restaurant division. The waitress informed us immediately that the ‘moriawase’; basically mixed platters of sushi, sashimi, nigiri and maki were not available, as were a couple of other dishes – still leaving us with a pretty comprehensive choice of edamame, miso soup, sashimi, nigiri sushi, temaki cones, maki sushi rolls and tataki.
So after the obligatory edamame (with spicy chilli paste), first on our hit list was ‘shake’ salmon and ‘hamachi’ yellowtail tuna sashimi (three slices of each); whilst the salmon was silky soft, it was sliced too thin – should be roughly 1cm wide, like the yellowtail which matched the salmon on tenderness. Now I’ve said this before am sure, but salmon is considered an inferior fish in Japan and you’d be hard pushed to find it on any menu. But it’s still a FooDiva fave. Now incase you’re wondering the fish is imported from Europe and Australia, not Japan – but having eaten my way round the country last year (click here) and given Japan’s recent calamities, am up for supporting all things Japanese right now. Needless to say, accompanying soya sauce, wasabi, ginger and even a chilli infused spice were on tap.
Next up the signature dish of Honyaki sandwich (four pieces); lumps of crab and crispy tempura sandwiched by sushi rice in a triangular, club-like shape. Fans of Sumo’s delivery sushi, you get the picture. Tasty and crunchy enough, but lacking slightly in flavour; a little spice would have gone some way to wowing us. The rock ‘n roll maki sushi roll (six pieces) with spicy tuna and wasabi caviar also disappointed in the flavour stakes despite the added wasabi.
A seared wagyu beef on a bed of rice and sweet soya sauce presented in two white china spoons of the kind canapés are served was a welcome surprise. Best eaten in one huge gulp to soak up the sauce with the just-slightly-cooked-to-perfection wagyu. FooDiva loved this so-not-traditional Japanese dish so much, that I chose a similarly spooned salmon sashimi version over dessert; rice drenched in sweet mustard miso topped by the sashimi and large dollops of marinated salmon roe. Slipped down perfectly (I guess the slimmer salmon helped); irresistibly impeccable.
Honyaki excels at presentation, with the creations presented on simple cast iron platters. With the restaurant now almost full, a number of dishes wizzed past us that can only be described as works of art. Service swayed from slightly over-attentive to slow when it came to ordering our last dish and asking for the bill, but am confident the friendly staff will adjust with time – it’s only been open a couple of weeks.
Our bill for two including unlimited sencha tea (beautifully smooth by the way), ginger ale and a café latte; AED 380 including service and taxes. Not bad value considering it’s licenced – and comparing favourably to other sushi establishments.
A bright and buzzy sushi joint serving a mix of business and leisure clientele, Honyaki is geared more towards a lunchtime crowd. FooDiva would most definitely return for spoonfuls of sensual sashimi, if nothing else; must remember to leave the car behind so I can enjoy a tipple or two of sake. By the way, no delivery for now. Honyaki, here’s to a four out of five FooDiva knife rating.