Talk about extremes – I think I just had the best spicy edamame of my life at Katsuya by Starck but also the worst soft-shell crab; so bad, we sent it back.
And that more or less sums up my experience there – a meal of extremes. Located in one of the most drop-dead gorgeous (and nicest smelling) hotels in Dubai, the fancy-schmancy Jumeirah Al Naseem, Katsuya takes pride of place at the seafront end of the horseshoe around the hotel’s central turtle lagoon. Its neighbours include Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, Black Tap and Flamingo Room by Tasha’s. Its handsome, minimalist interior is the work of famous French architect, Philippe Starck, and is spread over no less than three indoor dining rooms (all with their own bars) and an outdoor terrace with a breath-taking waterfront view which includes a full-on of the Burj.
Katsuya gets its name, menu and fame from multiple award-winning master sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi, so it’s advisable to try some sushi and/or sashimi when there. Before making a splurge though, try the samplers as they are probably the only items on the menu which you can mention in the same sentence as value for money. And besides, they’ll give you an idea of what you like or what you don’t. Order big from there, or don’t. In true Izakaya style, we decided to order nibblings to have with our bottled Asahi rather than go for a heavy meal – it was already 16:00. The sashimi sampler we started with included slivers of tuna, yellowtail, salmon, red snapper, snow crab and over sweet egg. It was ho-hum as opposed to OMG.
After returning the hugely disappointing Soft Shell Crab, which looked, tasted and smelled like cheap fish and chips, the kitchen vindicated itself by serving up their amazing mini Tuna Tacos followed by the Crispy Rice Duck Confit which Iranians in particular will love as the crispy rice looks and tastes like their Tahdeeg (bottom of the pot). I wasn’t too impressed by the Beef Asparagus Robatayaki but the Seaweed Sunomono was very refreshing, if a little too sweet. All in all, the food was good but nothing to rave about, nothing good enough to take me back.
My first impression of Katsuya started with a telephone call to see if the restaurant was open (sadly so many have closed due to C-19) and it wasn’t a good one. The restaurant receptionist was cold and snobbish. Our walk-in experience was much the same. Once we were seated, however, their brilliant Filipino staff took over from the pretentious models at the door and, I suspect, the true Katsuya experience started from there; we were very well looked after. That said, unless I want to impress someone with the location and the Katsuya brand, I would not come back here…preferring the more down to earth Kimura-Ya at the Oberoi where, irrespective of who I am or how I am dressed, I am greeted and treated like a returning regular every time.
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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 email@example.com.