Food obsession: Tsukune at Bento-Ya

These chicken meatballs are quite ecstasy-inducing.
Meatballs. Handout Photo
Meatballs. Handout Photo
I have come across the best meatballs I have ever eaten. This Sheikh Zayed Road eatery has been serving them for the past 15 years, but it wasn't until I got a heads-up from the blogger behind Dubai Bites ( that I gave them a try. Though, in all fairness to other meatballs around the world, I rarely eat meatballs. Because let's be honest, how exciting can meatballs be, right? Wrong! They can be ecstasy-inducing. The small, dusky globes glisten in a salty, sweet, smoky, exhilaratingly intense teriyaki sauce, with a viscosity a couple of notches lower than the chocolatey brown fudge sauce that drizzles down the sides of your ice cream sundae.

With that first bite, I lapsed into a Ms Universe moment - those seconds when the winner of the beauty pageant is finally announced and dainty hands flutter instantly to the shocked winner's face - a face contorted with surprise, disbelief, joy - a face that may even have the faintest tear trickling down one cheek.

I experienced that moment mentally, intellectually and, yes, spiritually.

If you order the meatballs in a bento box like I did, you get them served on a bed of crunchy hair-like strands of shredded cabbage (or was it lettuce? Someone dissect the gobsmacking crunchiness behind that veggie hair for me please). And lest you need to dip every teriyaki-drenched meatball morsel in more teriyaki sauce, they provide a little extra pool of it, with a spot of pungent mustard for an added kick. Everything else in that bento box - the cold, sweetish noodles, tamago, creamy potatoes, pickled radish - was also excellent. But the meatballs stole the show and had me applauding for an encore.

If you order the meatballs as a starter, they arrive on skewers with a dipping sauce of raw egg yolk - a side that may well remain an untouched shadow of the magic teriyaki sauce that the meatballs are showered in. Make sure you ask them for extra sauce on the side when you order the starter because this isn't gloop they pour ready-made out of bottles, this is the real, made-in-the-moment deal.


Dh15 as starter; Dh35 as main. Bento-Ya, 04 343 0222, behind Skechers shoe shop, Sheikh Zayed Road.


YArva Ahmed, the blogger behind, writes about ethnic eats in Old Dubai

Published: May 10, 2012 04:00 AM


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