Wakame is the Japanese restaurant your taste buds deserve

The Dubai restaurant will even make you look more handsome. No, really.

Robert Chilton April 17, 2016

We’re pretty sure that, upon walking into Wakame, your handsome points will instantly increase by about 40 per cent, making it an ideal choice for a date.

The soft, amber light that gently drips down from lights encased in baskets are incredibly flattering and also very calming. Hard day in the office? Come here for dinner and that angry email from your boss will soon be forgotten.

A good-sized bar is off to the right as you enter, where dozens of beautifully labelled sake bottles sit on shelves. The long sushi counter pulls you along into the main restaurant, the creation of which must have required an army of carpenters.

There is wood everywhere; furniture and beams are regimentally positioned in straight lines and there’s a modern, minimalist feel to Wakame. It actually feels kind of Scandinavian. The menu, however, is most definitely Japanese – you won’t find Swedish meatballs here. Far from it, in fact. Dishes at Wakame are dainty works of art. Colours, shapes, arrangement, slices of sashimi, drizzles of sauce – all were neat, delicate and quite beautiful.

If you name a salad after your restaurant then it had better be good and the Wakame salad (AED 45) of marinated seaweed glowed with green goodness and flavour from the creamy sesame dressing is certainly that. Elsewhere, four miniature duck tacos (AED 65) contained shreds of green apple and sharp pickled kumquats to lift the heaviness of the duck – top class. 

Moving onto larger dishes, the sight of black cod on a menu always sends the saliva glands into overdrive. Wakame’s version (AED 185) was marinated in soy and acacia honey which may have been overdone a touch, as the sweetness was quite cloying and suffocated the fish. Better was the jumbo prawn (AED 85). Simply grilled and displayed on its shell, it came with a jalapeno and red onion salsa that elevated the giant prawn.

A slab of miso caramel cheesecake (AED 52) rounded things off, paired with a shell of dark chocolate ice cream that was brilliantly bitter. The Japanese influence here was a shortbread base made from black sesame. It’s pretty heavy so you might want to share it with your date who, thanks to that gorgeous lighting, will no doubt think you are better looking than when you walked in.

Rating: 7.1 out of 10

Wakame, Sofitel Dubai Downtown. wakame.ae