Written by:Elise Kerr
The unassuming spot offering real Japanese cuisine…
You’d be forgiven if recent the opening of Wawa Dining flew under your radar. Unlike its flashy competitors, Japanese restaurant Wawa chose a more modest launch approach. This, along with its paired-back interiors, is what attracted us to the concept in the first place.
Found in Golden Tulip Al Barsha, guests will be greeted with kanji lettering, geisha printed curtains and a small dark passageway before entering the venue. It’s an izakaya (a casual Japanese bar), so it’s ideal as an afterwork hangout spot.
There aren’t too many other guests on our visit, but the ones that are there are Japanese – a great sign of authenticity when it comes to the food.
The menu splits between starters, sushi, noodles, seafood and signature dishes. Most of the platesare small, ideal for sharing. We intrigued by the deep fried soft tofu (Dhs53) and begin with this dish. Five parcels of batter filled with creamy tofu arrive with a fresh sweet chili jam on top. They’re tasty and nicely combine both crispy and soft textures.
We’re told the salmon carpaccio (Dhs56) is a must try and gladly oblige. It’s a refreshing dish, with orange segments and truffle ponzu to balance out the flavours. Gyoza is usually a winner in any Japanese restaurant but Wawa’s is exceptional enough to tempt us for a second helping. It’s filled with Osaka beef (Dhs63) and drizzledin teriyaki sauce before being topped with super-thin, super-crispy onion strips.
We order the volcano maki (Dhs53) on the promise that it’s ‘not too spicy’, but we would’ve enjoyed its fiery sauce on the side as the rolls were completely coated in spicy aioli, which overpowered the other flavours.
Currently the only option for dessert is flavoured mochi ice cream, so we opt for another gyoza instead.
Each dish is beautifully presented in the fine-dining style you’d expect in a contemporary DIFC bar. Price-wise the dishes aren’t too far off it’s fine-dining competitors, but if casual, unpretentious dining is what you’re looking for, then follow Dubai’s Japanese crowd and head to Wawa.
Wawa, Golden Tulip, Al Barsha, daily 12pm to 3pm then 6pm to 12am. Tel: (0)4 501 6189. @wawadining