Big in Japan
3treet food influences are front and centre at Akiba Dori
You’ve heard of Neapolitan, Chicago and New York-style pizzas, but you might not have encountered Tokyo-style pizza before. We certainly hadn’t, until we visited Akiba Dori in Dubai Design District (D3).
The licensed outlet is the brainchild of restaurateur Samer Hamadeh, who is also behind JBR’s Stereo Arcade nightclub. It takes its inspiration from Akihabara, Tokyo’s neon-filled electronics district. The restaurant is divided into colourful storefronts – there’s a bar, bakery, arcade room, and pizzeria.
Akiba Dori’s menu is split into salads, street food, specials and baked goods, with a separate Tokyopolitan pizza menu. A sashimi salad (Dhs55), a mix of tuna and salmon sashimi, green leaves, and carrots featured impeccably fresh slivers of raw fish, which were elevated but not overpowered by a tangy apple ginger dressing.
The wagyu katsu sando (Dhs77) was a dainty sandwich consisting of melt-inyour-mouth hunks of wagyu beef, coated in panko crumbs and served between toasted pieces of crustless bread. It’s one of Japan’s hottest food trends right now, and we’re sure this is the only place in Dubai you can get it.
Next up was the Tokyopolitan pizza, which uses Japanese flour, salt, and wisdom (Akiba Dori’s chef Luigi, originally from Naples, was sent to Tokyo to train with one of Japan’s top pizza makers). The dough is baked in a wood-fired oven at 500°C for under a minute.
Do yourselves a favour and pull up a seat in front of the oven while your pizza is being cooked. There’s something wonderful about seeing it slide out of the fire, covered in char marks and bubbles. We ordered the 5 Formaggi (Dhs71), topped with a swirl of acacia honey, the sweetness of which cut through the salty cheese beautifully – it was a match made in heaven.
For dessert, the Hakata cheesecake (Dhs27) failed to pass the jiggle test – one of the most satisfying aspects of the Japanese treat – but it was still a palate cleanser; soft, silky, and not too sweet. Their Nutella taiyaki (Dhs17) was also a fun take on the fish-shaped waffle, which usually comes filled with red-bean paste. In a city saturated with sushi spots, Akiba Dori is definitely onto a good thing. D3: Home to the best pizza this side of Tokyo. Who knew?
Building 8, Dubai Design District, Dubai, Sun to Thurs noon to midnight, Fri to Sat noon to 2am. Tel: (04) 770 7949. Taxi: Design district. facebook.com/AkibaDori