15 Japanese restaurants that opened in the UAE in 2023

From mouth-watering sushi platters to hearty ramen bowls, these recently launched dining spots are well worth a try

Custom-created cubicles for solo dining at Japanese restaurant IchiRyu. Photo: IchiRyu
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The past 12 months in the UAE have brimmed with both classic and ingenious concepts from the Land of the Rising Sun, from new sushi bars and ramen houses to fancy omakase-style dining concepts.

Japanese cuisine's growing popularity also boils down to its accessibility, with venues fit for any budget and consideration spread across the UAE. Here are 15 new Japanese restaurants that opened this year.


The Filipino-owned ramen place, which opened in July, credits its early success to social media. Speaking to The National, the three siblings who run the restaurant know this comes with great responsibility to serve the best ramen bowl in a city that is obsessed with Japanese food.

Thankfully, chef Raul De Guzman spent a significant time in Japan learning how to make the perfect broth and noodles.

Located at Wasl Port Views, the restaurant serves everything from small bites to desserts, but the main event is ramen.

Five to try: Aka paitan or red ramen; takoyaki; tori karaage; okonomiyaki; and cashew matcha merengue.

Monday to Thursday, noon-11pm; Friday to Sunday, noon-midnight; Wasl Port Views, Dubai; 050 375 0354

Kai Enzo

Chef Izu Ani, known for top venues Gaia, Alaya, Fika, Eunoia by Carine and La Maison Ani, combines far-Eastern flavours with western influences in his rooftop restaurant in Hyatt Centric Jumeirah which opened in June.

Kai Enzo, which is named after chef Ani's son, offers a twist on some Japanese classics. Think langoustines with a Japanese curry dip, Hokkaido scallops dressed in green apple ponzu with salsa verde, and green bean salad with black sesame paste and wasabi peas.

Five to try: King crab salad; Wagyu beef gyoza with chilli paste; crispy black cod maki; lamb chops marinated in gochujang with perilla yoghurt; and Hokkaido cheese ice cream with hazelnut crumble and roasted strawberry jam.

Monday to Thursday, 5pm to 1am; Friday to Sunday, 5pm-2am; La Mer North, Dubai; 04 302 1275; www.kaienzo.com

Mr Moto

Describing itself as “a curious place for curious diners and drinkers”, Mr Moto is a Japanese kitchen and cocktail bar with a focus on music. It opened in October at Yas Marina on Yas Island.

Five to try: Nashville karaage; sweet miso black cod; spicy udon carbonara with smoked Wagyu fat; shishito peppers with yuzu-kosho mayonnaise; and supermoon yuzu cheesecake.

Daily, 5pm-2am; Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi; 056 603 7600

Nobu by the Beach

There may be more than 50 Nobu restaurants spanning five continents to choose from, but there is only one where you can munch down a miso-glazed fillet wearing your trunks while teetering on the edge of a palm tree-lined pool.

Nobu's first beach club opened in May at Atlantis The Royal. This Nobu takes its Japanese cuisine roots and fuses them with its globetrotting nature by offering a round-the-world selection of dishes and one-bite plates.

Five to try: Chicken tacos; chicken wings; spicy tuna maki; salmon avocado jalapeno maki; and miso-glazed black cod.

Monday to Thursday, 5pm-2am; Friday to Sunday, noon-3pm and 5pm-2am; Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; 04 426 0760


Five years after shutting its doors, Okku reopened in June at the Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah. The home-grown Japanese restaurant, which previously operated from The H Dubai hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road until 2018, was a staple must-visit for residents and visitors.

About 90 per cent of Okku's original “O-style” menu has been retained, with favourites including hushihu salad, ginger salmon sashimi and dynamite baked king crab legs.

The venue is dominated by eight 3D-printed Samurai soldiers and an LED aquarium with photorealistic recreations of jellyfish. It also has a central bar, 20-metre-long sushi bar and robata grill area, as well as a private dining room.

Five to try: Avocado kazan; wasabi rock shrimp; hamachi carpaccio; crispy king crab California maki; and matcha fondant with wasabi ice cream.

Monday to Thursday, 6pm-2am; Friday and Saturday, 6pm-3am; West Palm Beach, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; 04 666 1566

Reif Japanese Kushiyaki and Tero Chef's Table, Dubai

Michelin-lauded chef Reif Othman opened his first licensed venue at Dubai Hills Business Park in May. Both the venue and the menu are more expansive than the original Dar Wasl restaurant.

Othman also launched Tero, a 12-seat dining lounge within the restaurant, with eclectic decor elements such as trainers, skateboards, a Pac-Man machine and a Bearbrick art piece. The space affords a front-row seat to the chef’s cooking station and guests can enjoy an ever-changing tasting menu, priced at Dh888 for eight dishes and Dh1,212 for 12 dishes.

Five to try: Reif's marble bun; Wagyu katsu sando; Angus beef kushi with truffle mayo and crispy shallot; Angus beef rice clay pot; and duck ramen.

Daily, noon-3pm, 6pm-midnight (Reif Japanese Kushiyaki); Wednesday-Saturday, two seatings at 6pm and 9.30pm (Tero); Dubai Hills Business Park; 04 255 5142

SLRP by 3Fils

The ramen house in Yas Mall comes from the team behind the award-winning 3 Fils.

Launched in September, SLRP is led by executive chef Shun Shiroma. He previously worked at Michelin-starred Tokyo restaurant Tsuta, which specialises in Japanese soba noodles.

On the menu is a selection of sushi, salads and Wagyu dishes. However, the noodles are the main event, with varieties including miso, Wagyu truffle and yuzu tori, plus vegan options.

Five to try: Vegan gyoza; volcano roll; wagyu truffle ramen; octopus kushiyaki; and African powerhouse.

Daily, noon-11.30pm; Huna Yas, Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi; 054 252 3905

Smoked Room

Acclaimed Andalusian chef Dani Garcia opened his award-winning omakase restaurant in Dubai on December 26. The 14-seater table at St Regis Gardens is dedicated to "embers and smoke", in both its sultry decor and cooking techniques.

The Smoked Room omakase bar is located within Lena by Dani Garcia, also opening this month and serving wood-fired steak, charcoal-grilled seafood and more.

Five to try: Amaebi from Hokkaido, brown butter and yuzu kosho; smoked eel nitro tomato, roasted red pepper caramel and ajoblanco from Malaga; corn chawanmushi, grilled leek, king crab and sea urchin; grilled hokkigai, tosazu beurre Blanc and fresh wasabi paste; and roasted duck breast.

Daily, 6pm-2am; The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

Sumosan Dubai

Founded in Moscow, with outposts in Berlin, Courchevel, Doha, London and Riyadh, the celebrity-favoured restaurant is located at The Dubai Edition Hotel. Here it has recreated the JBar indoor terrace concept, popular with patrons at its Mayfair outpost. It opened in January.

The menu is dominated by seafood and meat options, but sushi connoisseurs have plenty to choose from, too, including California roll with kamchatka crabmeat, spicy hamachi with crunchy quinoa and spicy beef and rock shrimp roll.

Five to try: Sumosan tuna avocado tartare; 24-hour miso-marinated black cod; Wagyu sando with truffle fries; crispy sushi rice pizza with salmon furikake; and 48-hour marinated slow-cooked beef short ribs.

Sunday to Thursday, 6pm-2am,; Friday and Saturday, 6pm-3am; Downtown Dubai; 056 169 6901


Following from Hawkerboi and San Wan, Jumeirah Lakes Towers added another culinary feather to its cap with the opening of Soon in September. Located in the triangulated arena that also includes Nola and Mythos, Soon is part restaurant, part lounge.

The restaurant is helmed by chef Hoang, who is from Vancouver and worked in Canada, the UK, Australia and Hong Kong before moving to Dubai.

Five to try: Shima aji with burnt leeks, cloud ear, takuan, shiro soyu cream and shiso oil; unagi oshizushi maki rolls; crispy eggplant mochi; mongo ika skewers; and Wagyu tsukune.

Daily, noon-1am; Cluster P, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai; 055 434 0575


Making good on dual-concept venues that are popping up around the world, Around the Block in Wasl 51 is an airy breakfast and light lunch cafe by day and, as of December, a modern Japanese eatery by night.

Tori comes complete with a ramen bar, but also serves a mean crab salad and Wagyu burgers.

Five to try: Salmon carpaccio with sesame ponzu sauce; A5 Wagyu roll; mushroom rice hot stone; hot ricotta pancakes; and indomie ramen with rock shrimp and chorizo.

Daily, 5pm-11.30pm; Wasl 51, Dubai; 04 342 8000


Helmed by Lebanese restaurateur Carole Moawad, this fine-dining Japanese restaurant and bar in Dubai International Financial Centre offers a range of handcrafted seafood and meat dishes, including a premium Wagyu selection (think sushi, gyoza, tartare, sando and brisket). It opened in October.

The handful of vegetarian options include avocado saykio miso, asparagus truffle maki and Masu garden salad with goma dressing.

Five to try: Truffle lobster; unagi foie gras sushi; Hokkaido scallops; king crab; and Yu-Chi Oh!.

Sunday to Thursday, Noon-1am; Friday and Saturday, noon-2am; DIFC, Dubai; 04 298 5044

The Beach by Sho Cho

Sho Cho opened its own beach club for the city's sun-seekers in March. The outdoor venue at the Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa features sunbeds, al fresco dining tables and lounge seating options.

Entry to the beach club costs Dh250 per person, with Dh150 that can be redeemed on food and drinks.

The menu is replete with Japanese classics, similar to the original Sho Cho.

Five to try: Beef tenderloin gyoza; corn-fed chicken yakitori; sea bass ceviche with coriander chips; black cod don buri; and yuzu raspberry cheesecake.

Sunday to Thursday, 10am-1am; Friday and Saturday, 10am-3am; Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai; 050 798 1869

The Robata

Omakase, the Japanese philosophy of leaving your culinary fate in the chef’s hands, has taken off in a big way in the UAE with venues such as Moonrise, Mitsu-ya and Hoseki leading the charge. A recent addition to the surprise menu concept, The Robata, which opened in May on Bluewaters Island, is helmed by yakiniku masterchef Kenichi Osato and sushi masterchef Tatsuro Mitsuyasu.

The duo serve hard-to-find delicacies, ranging from shabu-shabu and Benihitomi fish to the world’s highest-ranking A5 Kobe Beef with a crisp and smoky crust.

Similar to the hotel’s TakaHisa restaurant, The Robata serves select ingredients presented inside designer trunks, for that flamboyant Dubai touch.

Five to try: Kobe beef ramen; unagi teriyaki; salmon avocado roll; Wagyu beef fried rice; and lobster ebi katsu sando.

Daily, 10am-2am; Bluewaters Island, Dubai; 04 556 6689

Yamanote Collective

Home-grown Japanese bakery Yamanote Atelier, which is owned by Sheikh Suhail Al Maktoum, opened a pop-up at Expo City Dubai in November. The new concept serves lunch in addition to the baked goods.

The menu has been devised by former Kinoya chef Masao Kikuchi, of which the katsu chicken rice is Sheikh Suhail's new favourite.

Five tor try: Miso ramen; takoyaki; seaweed salad; teriyaki steak sando; and katsu chicken rice.

Daily; 8am-9pm; Expo City Dubai; yamanoteatelier.com

Updated: December 26, 2023, 3:55 AM