When I arrived in Dubai just over eight years ago, there were only a fraction of dining options that the city boasts today. Which meant that there was a much more limited circuit of hotspots to hit up when you were looking for somewhere with good food, and an even better vibe.
Okku was one of those spots. Located in the H Hotel, its weekend brunches and Sunday night parties were among the best in the city, and for a long time it was one of Dubai’s premier places to party. Five years ago, Okku said goodbye to its Sheikh Zayed Road location, calling it quits in 2018. But now it’s back, promising the same lively vibe, in a new location at Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah.
But the city’s dining scene has drastically grown-up in the last half-decade. Can Okku still make its mark?
It certainly looks the part, we think as we walk in on a mid-week evening. The catwalk-style entrance is lit by walls of Japanese lanterns glowing red and blue, clearly designed with Dubai’s Instagram crowd in mind. Inside, the restaurant is split into a lounge on the right – where the famed jellyfish tanks from the original make their return – and a more formal dining area on the left. At the heart of the latter, a huge bar takes centre stage, ensuring that even in the restaurant there’s a welcome buzz.
There’s plenty to choose from: the menu is filled with an extensive offering of modern Japanese dishes designed to share.
Chili garlic edamame (Dhs40) is the perfect punchy snack to graze on while you peruse the extensive menu, with an excellent chili coating to edamame bean ratio to ensure the flavour is high-impact.
Thereafter, we order the Okku salad (Dhs69), a mix of crispy black and white quinoa, diced apple, asparagus and mixed leaves tossed in a ginger dressing, which is nice but a bit forgettable. We enjoy the tuna crispy rice (Dhs99) a lot more, with each crunchy oblong of sushi rice cooked perfectly and topped with a generous dollop of spicy tuna. A similar offering toped with charred tomato and flavoured with yuzu miso (Dhs69) is an interesting flavour combination that also works well.
Before the next round of courses can arrive, a violinist is making his way around the room, the lively notes from the electronic version of this string instrument going note-perfect with the pulsing DJ tunes. The vibe is building at just the right time, and as we glance around at around 11pm, the venue has filled up with glamourously dressed guests all in the mood to get involved.
Back to our plates and a wagyu beef and foie gras (Dhs139) listed under the signature kushiyaki section of the menu is a dish we’d recommend to anyone. It’s deliciously moreish, and a lime wedge balances the richness well with a welcome citrus note. For something that comes with a side of table theatrics, the avocado kazan (Dhs89) arrives in a case of flames, and the pieces of soft avocado, mushroom and asparagus come with a lovely char. Then there’s the ‘O’ style scallops (Dhs169), elegantly presented on slate, each plump and meaty scallop topped with a fig chutney and arranged on a strip of truffle sesame sauce. Presentation gets a big thumbs up, taste gets two.
Despite being enormously full, we’re persuaded to try the lychee and raspberry mousse (Dhs60), a plate of pretty pink shades and textures, which is exactly the light, sweet note we need to conclude an impressive meal.
Verdict: This is a late night dinner spot to go for dinner, and stay for the vibe.
Okku Dubai, Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jumeirah, Palm West Beach, Mon to Thur 6pm to 2am, Fri and Sat 6pm to 3am, closed on Sun, Tel: (0)4 666 1566. okku.com2023-11-20T06:02:19Z dg43tfdfdgfd