Reif Kushiyaki Dubai: Chef Reif Othman’s ode to unconventional Japanese street food

Join The Huntr as we present a closer look inside Reif Kushiyaki Dubai – Chef Reif Othman’s ode to unconventional Japanese street food at Dar Wasl Mall…

Having previously manned the kitchens at the likes of Zuma and Play Restaurant and Lounge, Reif Kushiyaki Dubai marks Singapore-born, award-winning Chef Reif Othman’s first casual dining concept. Chef-owned and operated, this alcohol-free Al Safa gem is open six days a week for lunch and dinner. Interior designer Carolina Rey de Castro worked closely with Reif and his team to translate their dreams for a cosy, fun and welcoming space inspired by the streets of Japan into a reality. The earthy colour palette and wooden elements are grounding and comforting, whilst a bright and punchy mural of Reif’s favourite childhood comic Astro Boy by local Lebanese artist Lauris Zailaa adds a pop of colour and nostalgia. The central glass-fronted kitchen is a nod to Japanese street food stalls and offers an enticing glimpse at the delicious and energetic action. Compact, the restaurant seats 29 inside and a further 30 outside when the weather permits. The table’s legs are reminiscent of chopsticks and each table is fitted with an opening drawer, which conceals the menu and cutlery.

The ‘Kushiyaki’ in the restaurant’s name refers to the popular skewered (usually poultry) Japanese street food. As a casual dining concept, the team have ensured that the menu is affordable and guests can enjoy three dishes for a total bill of around 80-150AED. The Huntr started with the Kimchi + Melon (22AED), which turned out to be one of the favourite things we ate. Totally genius, it has the perfect balance of sweet, tangy and savoury flavours, with a pungent fermented kick. Don’t miss it. The Puglia Burrata (110AED) was delicious but sadly missing the chorizo and veal pancetta that was supposed to accompany it. The smoked olive oil and juicy cherry tomatoes were lovely additions to the creamy cheese nonetheless. We also enjoyed the Raw Seabass (55AED) with yuzu soy and yellow pepper chutney, the delicately assembled Spicy Salmon (40AED) sushi and the Kushiyaki Chicken Neck (35AED for 2 pieces) with citrus salt. The star of the evening was the Sanchoku Wagyu Sando (145AED) – a luxurious yet simple sandwich featuring high grade, melt-in-your-mouth wagyu – whatever you do, don’t miss it. Last but not least, we opted for the 18 hour Ramen (59AED) with a ginger chicken broth, bok choy and egg. Tasty and rich in flavour, we loved mix of textures with every bite and slurp.

To end one of the best meals we’ve enjoyed recently on a sweet note, we ordered the Taiyaki (38AED) – a mouth fish waffle that is sure to be all over your Instagram feed soon. Beautiful presentation aside, the dish was delicious – it had just the right amount of sweetness and we would definitely order it again.

The three waiting staff are friendly and helpful but busy, busy, busy. As such there’s a delay at times and you may need to give them a little nudge. Nonetheless, the food and overall experience made up for the sometimes slow service and it’s worth noting that The Huntr visited during Reif Kushiyaki’s first few weeks of opening – when there are bound to be a few teething troubles.

Insider tips: Open for lunch and dinner Saturday-Wednesday 12noon until 11pm, Thursday-Friday 12noon until 11pm. Reservations now available. Expect a queue during peak timings. Best parking is the basement parking (B1) by the red entrance 3 column. Alcohol-free

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