“Kimura-Ya could possibly be the best casual dining, authentic, izakaya-style Japanese restaurant in Dubai”. I wrote that in my review of their newly opened Business Bay branch in August 2020. And here we are in December of the same (fabulous) year and I find myself writing another review for a second newly opened restaurant, this time at the Habtoor Grand Resort in JBR. Hello! What’s going on here? Obviously, someone at Kimura-Ya didn’t get the “there’s a pandemic of biblical proportions ravaging the world” memo. Located in a stand-alone building beside the swimming pool, it boasts a large outdoor dining deck, shaded (where required) by parasols, which one can as easily walk onto from the pool as from the entrance of the resort – a minute away. The interior has as much space as the outdoor area, yet doesn’t nearly have the same colourful, vibrant ambiance of the original branch.
My daughter was in the mood for ramen, something we had not tried at the Business Bay branch. Yet neither of us were tempted by the plain-Jane looking Shio Ramen on the weekday set menu nor could our waitress get us excited about anything else. So, my Yasmin (a sucker for udon noodles) ordered a traditional Japanese Kake Udon while I went the Korean route and ordered the Yukgaejang Ramen, a spicy beef soup. We also ordered some Edamame, Shrimp Tempura and Chicken Gyoza to start. Not, however, before I was brought an ice-cold pint of Kirin – gotta get our priorities straight, right? I mean, here we are sitting on the outside deck, overlooking the pool at mid-day and beer! beer! beer! is all I can think of…
The starters were escorted to our table by a squadron of Kamikaze flies who spent the entirety of our meal practising dive bombing manoeuvres. The ones which were foolish enough to come close to my Kirin died instantly. The rest convinced us that, unless Kimura-Ya has fly fans on their tables the next time we visit, we will sit inside….or visit at night.
Having recently dined at the amazing Maru Udon in Business Bay, I honestly thought I had tried the best Kake Udon in Dubai. Well, Kimura-Ya’s version is just as authentic and gives the boys at Maru a good run for their money. I found its broth perfectly balanced and the udon noodles had just the right amount of bite without being chewy – seriously delicious and much, much better than my also good but totally overshadowed ramen.
Service is a Kimura-Ya strong point and this was evident in the warm reception we received, the patience in which our order was taken and the speed in which our food was brought to the table. Understandably it’s still not as well-oiled a machine as the Business Bay branch but I am sure Mogi-san, the experienced Japanese manager who launched Fujiya and also Biz Bay, will have things running as smooth as a Seiko in no time. I found it amusing when one of the Filipina staff came to me in the midst of a bout of arm flapping, a fly swatting technic I developed during my meal there. I though she had come to help me take down a few more banzai buzzers, but it was actually to say that she remembered me from the Business Bay branch where she worked with my favourite supervisor – Jeca. Now if that doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy, I don’t know what will.
Kimura-Ya remains a breath of fresh air in a market segment overcrowded with bubble gum sushi joints and pretentious, over-priced poser-parlours (of which the Habtoor Group is no stranger). It takes the authentic casual dining izakaya experience of the original in Business Bay outdoors and poolside offering some of the best Japanese food in Dubai. I am already looking for an excuse to go back, this time either with Speedos and a flyswatter or at night…
#1 Food Blogger on Zomato Dubai – 2018, 2019 and 2020
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 his culinary journey on Instagram: @ravenousxerxes or reach out to him via email on email@example.com.