|In a word: Luxe|
|Food: Amazing, one of my favourite fine-dining experiences|
|Service: Serious, yet welcoming, friendly and fun|
|Ambience: Dark, almost mysterious, definitely cool|
|Location: Number 1 Sheikh Zayed Road, Okku has THE address!|
|Value for money: This is oriental fine dining at it’s best, so take a wallet full of cash, or better still, someone else’s!|
|Worth a visit?: A must do in Dubai. Go on a Sunday night, be prepared to eat incredible food, spend a small fortune on booze and pull a sickie on Monday, as Sunday night is hedonistic!|
Okku has a reputation in the UAE as one of the best places to eat whether you’re specifically after Japanese, or a fine dinning experience with ridiculously good food and mighty fine ‘O’ style cocktails to match. The name Okku is synonymous with fine dining in Dubai and the Sunday night parties have a hedonistic reputation.
Anyone who has spoken to me in the last couple of weeks will have heard me rave on, and on, about our experience at Okku. It really was on of my favourite dining experiences in Dubai – the combination of simply breathtaking food, knowledgable waitstaff, the slightly mysterious feel and luxurious interiors really delighted all my senses.
We were treated to a selection of dishes from the Media Tasting menu courtesy of Okku and by invitation from the lovely team at Sept PR.
Our evening started off with two sizable bowls of edemame beans; one laced with Hakata sea salt the other tossed in a mild chili, these were paired with a couple of rather fantastic cocktails our waitress recommended from the extensive drinks menu.
The cocktails continued as the night progressed, I can’t tell you exactly what we drank as I put my faith in the hands of our very capable waitress and I’d recommend you do the same, the wait staff will have tried everything from the rather long cocktail list (all part of the job, you understand!) and will be more than happy to make recommendations to help your evening flow.
The first dishes delivered to the table were the Tuna Tartare; a generous slab of finely chopped Big-Eyed tuna, red onion, yuzu tobiko served with truffle soy sauce and wonton crisps served from a bowl sunken into a wooden box full of ice to keep the tuna chilled, 10 points for presentation! The Tuna was accompanied by the poached Atlantic Lobster Carpaccio topped with micro mizuna (looked like rocket to me) and masago with a wafu-goma dressing. The servings were of a very respectable size, especially the tuna which I’m sure could have fed four. The lobster was succulent and clean tasting, and paired with a beautiful dressing.
Our next round of starters (why have one round when you can have two) was lead by the “O” Style Hotate; perfectly seared meaty scallops served dressed in a truffle goma with delicate topping of finely chopped fig and a tiny sprinkling of chives. The scallops were cooked beautifully, and the sauce immense; the figgy topping helped make this dish dance on your taste buds, this is a must try. The scallops were accompanied by another generous bowl, this time of HuShiHu Salad; shredded Yuan crispy duck on a bed of baby gem, mache and romaine lettuces, with red radish, mixed cabbage, leek, dikon, and pomegranate topped with a plum-amazu dressing. I just loved this salad, it had that treat-feel to it that for me took it from being just a salad to a something much more sophisticated and just a little bit naughty. The mix of shredded veggies was fresh and clean against the rich flavours of the duck and dressing. These flavours took me back to my childhood, scoffing down shredded duck pancakes with cucumber and plum sauce in a local Chinese restaurant.
Then came a huge platter of sushi and maki, this was a real ‘Wow’ statement piece, in fact i’m going to go as far as calling it art! A huge pile of fish, meat and vegetarian delights beautifully presented on a wooden board, with slate and stone platters all decorated with fresh edible flowers, leaves and lemon. My favourites from the platter were the Soft Shell Crab with takuan, avocado and soft soy, and the Garden veggie rolls. The Wagyu went down really well with my other half, as did the huge pile of wasabi & pickled ginger which accompanied the platter, something that all too often is scrimped on in my opinion.
Generosity was fast becoming a word synonymous with our adventures at Okku.
After a short digest-rest and another cocktail, purely to aid digestion you understand, we were served Swordfish Shoyuyaki; baked swordfish in a deeply rich sauce of chive, spring onion, shallot, ginger, seaweed and chili-soy butter, accompanied by Truffle Chanan; a mix of rice, garlic, zen mai, spring onion, black sesame seeds and fried in truffle oil. The truffle oil laced chanan complemented the deep intense richness of the Swordfish’s sauce really well. The swordfish itself was perfectly cooked – it just melted on contact with your tongue. Dynamite Kani; two baked King Crab legs laid out on a board with masago, half a lime and a spicy mayonnaise. The crab was a rather inelegant dish to eat as we fought to pluck the tender little meaty chunks from the rather long legs of this huge crab! The spicy mayo didn’t do anything for me, I would have preferred a chili-based dressing or something similar to really set the crab alive.
What a feast!…and one that wasn’t to end there…
After another fifteen minute digest-rest we were served the Chocolate Fondant with Tahitian Vanilla Icecream; a liquid gooey chocolate centre hidden behind a light cake outer. Okku have managed to balance the chocolatey richness with a light texture that went down a treat, even after our five course meal! Of course the chocolate fondant wasn’t delivered on it’s own, our waitress brought out a delicate tasting Crème Brulee decorated with strawberries and chocolate artistry. The desserts rounded off the meal perfectly, being were neither too heavy nor too airy, balancing sweetness with richness.
The interiors of Okku give me a feeling of dark almost mysterious luxe. The main restaurant and private dining areas are candle lit to enhances the feeling of decadence and the whole set up makes a dining experience there feel very private. The cocktail bar is super cool with it’s backdrop of a huge jellyquarium that will have you hypnotised, especially after a few of their finest ‘O’ style cocktails! For me, Okku have go the balance of lighting, spacing and textures just right – it hits uber cool without going down the blingtastic, over-done route.
Presentation of all food and drinks was faultless. Combinations of ice, wooden boxes, heavier metallic dishes, slate, and decorations of flowers, fruits, leaves and chocolate made for interesting and inviting looking affairs.
The wait staff here are serious, and by serious, I mean seriously cool, seriously knowledgeable and seriously passionate about Okku. They know everything on the menu, they’re quick to recommend their favourite cocktails and will tempt you back, telling you stories of how Sunday evenings turn from the classic Okku uber-cool fine dining experience into hedonistic parties. I’m intrigued!
Value for money:
If you’re not quite swimming in it and want to celebrate a special occasion, I’d thoroughly recommend a visit to Okku as a treat, it’s such an amazing foodie and sensory experience. You won’t be disappointed.
And, If you are swimming in it, go and dine once a week, on a Sunday to celebrate the start of the week!
The H Hotel, 1 Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
Tel: +971 (0)450 18777