Akiba Dori Abu Dhabi review: authentic Tokyo-Neapolitan pizza comes to Yas Bay

The specialty Japanese pizza is known for its delicate dough that's made in a wood-fired oven using fresh yeast instead of sourdough

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Japanese street food concept Akiba Dori has found a second home in Abu Dhabi’s recently opened Yas Bay Waterfront following its success in Dubai Design District.

Home to the only Tokyo-style Neapolitan pizzeria in the UAE, the restaurant is brought to the capital by the team behind Dubai’s much-loved Stereo Arcade. Located at Pier71 at Yas Bay Waterfront, Akiba Dori promises Japanese favourites in a neon-tastic atmosphere.

What to expect and where to sit

Inside, Akiba Dori is all neon colours, wire cages and funky fixtures, while the terrace has sunset views. Photo: Akiba Dori

Taking its name and decor inspiration from Tokyo’s neon-filled district Akihabara, Akiba Dori is right on the Yas Bay waterfront. With Asia Asia and Paradiso as neighbours, it’s part of the bustling strip of restaurants and bars in what has quickly become Abu Dhabi’s latest hotspot.

This animated atmosphere continues inside Akiba Dori, where fluorescent lighting and brightly coloured furniture are the themes. On the terrace, things are a little less lurid, but there are still a few neon highlights to remind you of where you are.

The restaurant is pet-friendly, which is unusual in the UAE capital, and since my partner and I are dining with our pup in tow, we sit on the terrace. This gives us views of the water and some of the city’s nicest sunsets.

The menu

Tokyo-style Neapolitan pizza is on the menu at Akiba Dori.

The menu is split into street food, salads, specials and signature pizzas. As good sharing food should be, all dishes are prepared and served quickly — a la minute — so you don’t need to worry about what you're going to start or finish with.

From the street food section, we choose tuna tataki (Dh66) and Akiba rock shrimps (Dh62). The tuna is pleasantly seared and served with a tasty truffle soy sauce, while the shrimps, one of the most popular dishes on the menu, are well cooked and served with just the right amount of spicy mayonnaise. We also get a portion of furikake fries (Dh22), but we are mildly disappointed by their lack of punch.

Akiba Dori at Yas Bay is dog-friendly, with pups allowed on the terrace. Photo: Hayley Skirka

The pizza is a must-try, and we get the Luigi-san (Dh61). The crust is slightly charred — a sign of a good wood firing, and the base is light. It doesn’t hold its shape quite as well as we’d have expected once the provola and Romano cheeses have permeated the centre, but it is certainly delicious. The sweet datterini tomatoes provide a richness that contrasts nicely with peppery basil leaves.

Against our better judgment, we order of yaki soba (Dh64). The stir-fried noodles are served perfectly cooked, with a slightly chewy texture, and replete with fresh prawns and squid. The dish has a lovely umami flavour, but we’re so full we can manage only a few bites.

To wrap things up, an order of lotus cheesecake (Dh46) is a must, our server suggested. Already feeling full, we protest, but are glad at our lack of conviction when we sink our teeth into the first bite of the fluffy, light cheesecake. Served with a warm lotus caramel sauce, it’s the melty, sweet, biscuity medley we didn’t know we needed.

Standout dish

Cooked in a wood-fired oven and made with Japanese dough, Akiba Dori's pizzas are worth a visit.

Akiba Dori likes to shout about having the only Tokyo-style Neapolitan pizzeria in the Middle East, and we can attest that the pizza alone is worthy of a visit. Cooked in a wood-fired oven and made with Japanese dough that uses fresh yeast instead of sourdough and has a longer kneading time and a shorter cooking time, the resulting base is crispy on the outside and fluffy inside.

There’s a wide variety of flavours on offer, all with premium Italian toppings such as 24-month aged Reggiano Parmesan, San Marzano tomato sauce and home-made beef sausages, and the price is reasonable.

A chat with the chef

Interestingly, it's Akiba Dori's operations manager Billy Hamadeh who decides what's on the menu and he has plenty to recommend.

Vegetarians should opt for the Katsu curry and vegan pizza, both of which have been favourites since the day they were added to the menu, he says, while meat eaters might want to try the Katsu sando — prime cuts of black Angus katsu with a special sando sauce and freshly toasted bread. For pescatarians, Hamadeh recommends the seafood gyoza and miso black cod.

Price point and contact information

Pizzas cost from Dh59 to Dh89, a worthy price tag given the tasty crusts and premium toppings. Other mains start at Dh60 and go up to Dh144 for dishes with premium black Angus beef. The miso black cod holds its own at Dh104, as do the good-for-two Akiba rock shrimps at Dh62.

Akiba Dori is open daily from noon to midnight. Reservations can be made by contacting ‎04 770 7949 or ‎hello@akibadori.com.

This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant

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Updated: June 17, 2022, 6:02 PM