Like Dubai, the capital city of the UAE is a cultural melting pot. It has a large community of expats, and here, there is no shortage of great eats from different parts of the globe.
And when it comes to international cuisine that Abu Dhabi is famous for, most locals rave about Japanese cuisine. Why? Japanese food makes use of diverse ingredients. Therefore, people who follow a strict diet for health and spiritual reasons find that there are abundant options for them despite their diet.
It’s important to mention too that Abu Dhabi is the home of one of the best sushi restaurants in the UAE. You can have the highest quality of Japanese cuisine here, meaning you will not be disappointed experimenting with different dishes if you are feeling a bit adventurous.
But do you know that the best sushi restaurants’ offerings are not limited to sushi? In fact, they showcase dishes that, over the years, have become authentically Japanese. These are foods whose recipes originated outside of Japan, but when they were taken to the country were given that creative Nippon twist. Essentially, they are international recipes given a Japanese flavor and perspective, and they are all worth trying.
What to Try for Your Japanese Food Adventure in Abu Dhabi
So, if you love Japanese food but you would like to break out of conventions and discover delightfully new flavors, here are some of the new Japanese dishes to sample when you visit the top Japanese restaurants in Abu Dhabi.
The name omurice is an amalgamation of omelet and rice, which is a combination eaten in different parts of the world. However, the Japanese have a more gourmet approach to this traditionally basic food combination.
Japanese omurice makes use of slightly wet fried rice whose main source of flavor usually is ketchup. But, the fried rice is not the star of this dish. It is the fluffy, pillow-like omelet that is sliced in the middle to reveal a half-cooked scrambled egg, which is topped with dark gravy and parsley.
If you love eggs and fried rice, this is a great option to try, which a lot of Japanese restaurants offer.
2. Japanese Curry
Curry originally came from the southern parts of India. It’s usually green, yellow, or red, and it’s loaded with curry and other spices. But, Japan has its own take on it, “karē,”which was actually inspired by the British take on curry.
The sauce is thick and brown, and it can come with a variety of toppings, which includes roasted mushrooms, Vienna sausage, soft boiled or runny sunny side up eggs, fried garlic, and others. It’s not the intensely spicy version that you would normally eat in India and Southeast Asian nations. Plus, instead of using coconut cream, which is preferred in other parts of Asia, the Japanese use regular thick cream.
Japanese curry’s base is made of roux, which gives it a thick consistency. And, it is always more savory than spicy, and the meat (beef, chicken, or seafood) is always tender. It can also feature other seasonings such as ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, yogurt, chocolate sauce, and even coffee.
3. Hambagaa Steak
The Japanese people do hamburger steak quite different from the rest of the world. Firstly, they are known to add different fillings to it – cheese being the most popular one. Plus, the hamburger is quite tender that you can break it apart using chopsticks.
Likewise, it is often paired with daikon radish and miso soup, which for hambagaa steak is given a Western twist through the addition of bacon and celery. If the only hamburger steak you are familiar with is Salisbury steak, you need to try the Japanese take on it. It’s a better chew and even considered healthier.
4. Spaghetti Napolitan
This almost looks like a classic spaghetti, but instead of the usual Italian tomato sauce, the Japanese combine tomato paste and ketchup. The ketchup gives this pasta dish a much sweeter taste.
That’s not all, though. Spaghetti Napolitan is more colorful than traditional Italian spaghetti. It has large chunks of onion, bell peppers, diced meat loin, and it does away with herbs and spices.
5. Fish Tacos
Fish tacos are quite popular in the United States, especially in the San Diego area, where there are a lot of Mexican taco experts, and the beach is close by as a resource of high-quality fish. Top Japanese restaurants have turned this street snack into an innovative scrumptious offering that features tuna tartare and other types of seafood.
This Japanese twist to fish tacos is worth trying out if you want a much healthier version of the Mexican dish. Japanese fish tacos come with different kinds of sauces to further give the tacos an authentically Japanese flavor.
These are just five of the must-try Japanese foods in Abu Dhabi. You may think that you’re familiar with every one of them but brace yourself for a wonderful surprise. Given their Japanese twist, you will surely notice a stark yet a palatably appealing difference.
Chiara Bisignani is the F&B Marketing Executive at Saadiyat Beach Club. She oversees website maintenance, PR requests, marketing initiatives and all general guests’ enquiries for the company’s destinations of KOI Restaurant & Lounge, Boa Steakhouse and Caramel Restaurant and Lounge in Abu Dhabi