One of Japan's most popular restaurant is rarely known by its original name. Film buffs and foodies alike prefer to address Gonpachi by its altogether more catchy moniker: the 'Kill Bill' restaurant. The story goes that when filmmaker Quentin Tarantino dined at the Tokyo venue, so taken was he by the warehouse-style space that he built the set of Uma Thurman's spectacular fight sequence at the end of Kill Bill: Volume 1 to resemble the restaurant.
The Dubai branch opened on January 8, at Al Habtoor City, and brings with it the tempuras, tatakis, sushi and soba that were also a big hit with Tarantino (and, randomly, George W Bush, who dined there with former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi). Gonpachi is open for dinner from 6pm to midnight; reservations can be made by contacting 054 791 3321 and email@example.com.
As for whether it looks like the House of Blue Leaves, where Beatrice Kiddo took on the Crazy 88, you decide...
Philoxenia, the Greek word for hospitality (or, literally, "friend to the strange"), is the overarching theme at Aiza. The Mediterranean restaurant, lounge and bar opened at the East Marina at The Pointe on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah on December 31, and specialises in Greek food, drawing inspiration from the islands of Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos and Paros.
Menu-wise, this translates into breads, dips and cheeses, kalamata olives, spinach pie, fresh seafood and souvlaki prepared table-side, and desserts including loukouma, baklava and orange pie. Aiza sources the majority of its produce from Greece.
The interiors are more town centre than tavern, dominated by a tree chandelier, floors that resemble cobbled roads and a grove of olive trees, while the terrace overlooks the Palm Fountain.
Aiza is open from 6pm to 2am; reservations can be made by contacting 04 575 5097 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matroshka Bistro & Jardin
France and Russia are not exactly culinary bedfellows, which is what makes this restaurant all the more intriguing.
On its menu is a combination of French and Russian classics given a fine-dining twist, plus dishes that blend the ingredients and cooking techniques of both cuisines. Much of this involves caviar; the Russian Olivier salad, for instance, comes with salmon and caviar, while the Russian blini pancake is topped with creme fraiche and caviar. The delicacy also makes an appearance in dip form, by way of an eggplant caviar served with focaccia.
Not a fan of fish roe? You’ll also find sophisticated seafood – from tuna tartare and sea bass to Imperial pelmeni dumplings with salmon – and hearty meat dishes, such as magret duck breast with berries and baked beets, and filet mignon with foie gras and spinach at this two-level venue.
It opened at The Pointe on December 31, serves food from 5pm until midnight, and can be reserved by contacting 04 579 7540 and email@example.com.
Lola Taberna Espanola
“It is time to truly let Spanish cuisine shine in Dubai.” That’s the motto of chef Daniel Perez of Lola Taberna Espanola, which opened on December 21 at Tryp by Wyndham in Al Barsha.
The Andalusian is passionate about Iberic produce, especially the “often overlooked” Spanish extra virgin olive oil and smoky Spanish paprika. These and other traditional flavours are infused in the Iberic sandwiches, crayfish, dry-cured meats and authentic black paella found on the menu.
Spain is also known for its laid-back, long lunches taken while surrounded by friends and family. This informal vibe is what Perez and fellow Spaniard Lloy Rubio, the restaurant's general manager, are hoping will attract the UAE's Spanish community and others to Lola Taberna Espanola, which is open from 1pm to 2am on weekends, and 5pm to 2am on weekdays. Reservations can be made by contacting 04 247 6688 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the capital, the newest restaurant on the block is The Cove, which opened at West Bay Abu Dhabi on December 24.
The beachside venue looks like an idyllic spot to soak up the winter sun, even as you tuck into its set weekend breakfast menu. Priced at Dh175, choose among Middle Eastern, English and Mediterranean options. Eggs, breads and beverages aside, standouts from each include manakish zaatar with cheese, pancakes with berries and maple syrup and Caprese avocado toast with vine ripened tomatoes, respectively.
Late risers can head over for an equally varied mains menu, which has everything from salads, sushi and skewers to pasta, seafood and meat.
The Cove is open from 9am to 1am on weekends and noon to 1am on weekdays. Reservations can be made by contacting 02 692 4375 and email@example.com.