Reif Japanese Kushiyaki is a casual dining Japanese street food inspired franchise by acclaimed local chef, Reif Othman. I must add affordable to that description – affordable compared to other restaurants his name is tied to like Zuma, Play and Billionaire Mansion. The truth is prices are surprisingly reasonable for the quality and celebrity. This branch in the snooty but deserted Dar Wasl Mall is one of two, the other has just opened in Nakheel Mall on the Palm. Inside, I really liked the subtle Asian influenced, modern décor especially the wrap-around glass kitchen – I found it so cool watching the chefs go about their work.
The name Reif has become synonymous with some of the most amazing food in Dubai BUT with fame comes great expectations. Perhaps that’s why I found everything so underwhelming. I’m being polite, the kimchi melon was simply – hello! what were they thinking? Yuck! The rock shrimp reminded me of Wagamama’s Ebi Katsu on wooden skewers. This’ll be a good time to mention that “skewers” is what kushiyaki means in Japanese – it’s where the name of the restaurant comes from. And on…I didn’t think much of the gyoza, and the ramen was a joke. But then they brought out the Angus Beef Clay Pot Rice…and all was forgiven (but not forgotten).
Friendly, engaging staff and impeccable service joined the clay pot in making up (in a small way) for my disappointment in the food. Our table was attended to by an amazing young man by the name of Cepi – what a star! Ultimately, and I can’t believe I am saying this about a Reif Othman restaurant, Reif Japanese Kushiyaki was an exercise in mediocrity – nothing more, maybe less. It’s possible they were having an off day when I visited. I say that but believe me, no amount of improvement is going to make that kimchi melon taste any better. Keep your expectations in check and give the place a try but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.