The cauldron has been fired up for the launch of the first Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants list. While the gala awards ceremony will be held on February 7 in Abu Dhabi, organisers are sending out tasty titbits in the lead-up to the event. On Tuesday, for instance, Japanese restaurant Kinoya was announced as the winner of the One to Watch Award.
A statement from the World's 50 Best Restaurants group, which is compiling the Mena region's first list, said: “The accolade recognises a rising star restaurant within the region that 50 Best believes has the potential to break into the list in the years to come.”
Read The National's predictions on the Mena region's best restaurants here.
Chef Neha Mishra and her ramen restaurant are both uber-popular with in-the-know foodies, only a handful of whom were able to secure a spot at Mishra’s supper club, A Story of Food.
In April 2021, Mishra opened her first restaurant – in the izakaya style – at Onyx Tower in The Greens. With its traditional interior, compact menu and buzzing vibe, Kinoya epitomises the concept of Japan’s popular casual dining spaces, where people meet after work to eat, drink, catch up and unwind.
Crowd favourites include the Wagyu tsukune skewers dipped in egg yolk and soy sauce; the burnt butter scallops; and the onsen egg on rice with dashi. The menu also features sushi, sashimi, karaage, tempura and omurice.
However, it is the ramen that steals the show. William Drew, director of content for 50 Best, agrees, labelling Mishra’s version of the dish as “stunning”.
“At Kinoya, Neha Mishra has created a one-of-a-kind space within the bustling city of Dubai. From the moment of walking through the door, Kinoya transports guests to an authentic Japanese izakaya, where the decor and outstanding food come together as one. Mishra’s ramen, as you might expect from someone who has studied the dish so extensively, is nothing short of stunning,” says Drew.
Mishra, in turn, says she’s “humbled and delighted to be the winner of the first One To Watch Award at Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants".
"We are just starting out on our journey, but this award shows us we are on the right path.”
Other Mena awards announced thus far:
Middle East & North Africa's Best Female Chef 2022: Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi
Foodics Icon Award 2022: Beiruti chef Kamal Mouzawak