Taiko Dubai is a restaurant I’d heard plenty about before ever setting foot inside the sleek interior. Located at the newish Sofitel the Obelisk, we arrive with an open mind, ready for whatever the kitchen dishes out. The restaurant is a spinoff from the popular Amsterdam original, with Chef Schilo van Coevorden at the helm (and yes, you can still find him in the Dubai location during the year). The contemporary Asian venue is broken into several sections, such that you can enjoy a drink in the lounge (done in dramatic reds and textured walls) before settling into the dining room, complete with bamboo-lined booths. There’s also a sushi bar, should you be so inclined. Seats closest to the large windows overlooking the Wafi Obelisk are the best locations, as they provide sweeping views of the restaurant and outside. As ‘Taiko’ translates from Japanese to ‘drum,’ there are several of these themed drums throughout the restaurant.
The drinks menu has plenty of beverages to choose from, many that are based on the restaurant’s cuisine and style. There is also a selection of Japanese beverages, and Chef Schilo has a ‘favourites’ section as well. After reviewing the menu, the group I’m dining with decides to let the staff help direct us, and, as usual, we’ve made the right decision.
We start with the Robata Edamame, unexpected, but appreciated, the aji amarillo sauce makes this familiar dish a little more unique and above average, and we’re off to a great start. We’re then presented with two varieties of hummus, and we love the twist on the usual offer in Dubai. There’s the Black Garlic Hummus, and an Edamame Hummus, served with seaweed crackers, we like that even smaller dishes can be elevated or made differently.
Many will recognize the Infused Melon, which is drawing interest around town. Flavoured with wasabi and kimchi, it’s a refreshing plate, and one to order. There is no shortage of raw dishes, and continuing on the trend of light bites, we received additional plates, including Watermelon Sashimi. Elevating this simple ingredient in such a moreish way is delicious and interesting, and we love the pace on dishes that aren’t heavy or overwhelming.
In case you’re in the mood for sushi or sashimi, we have to recommend the Shisha Sushi, inspired by a favourite local product. With ‘gram-worthy presentation, servers lift the lid on this uniquely smoked (but not overpowering) product. We try both the Torched Salmon and Soy Glazed Wagyu. We’d happily order either protein again.
There is a whole Gyoza menu (!), and we’re delighted to try them all. My favourite is the Arabic Lamb, which includes subtle flavours of dates and tahini. We also taste the Tiger Prawn which arrives in a beautiful pool of kimchi and chili oil. For vegetarian diners, they aren’t overlooked, and we like the Peas and Tofu Gyoza, which is served wonderfully crispy. Additional hot starters consist of Dynamite Wasabi Prawns, which I sneakily finish off the last piece.
From the robata grill, the Beef Tenderloin is easy to split with friends, and we keep going back for additional bites. We also receive another excellent vegetarian dish, Green Coriander Curry.
Sides are very much worth mentioning, with memorable Lime Risotini, (trust me, it’s better than any rice you’ve had before), and Taiko Rice, which includes edamame and pumpkin.
Dessert is a real treat, and one guests should definitely leave room for. While the Chocolate Structures, is fun (and delicious), the real winner is the divine Creme Caramel. The inclusion of yuzu madeleines is so popular at the table that we ask for a second round, which is immediately consumed. Similarly, the use of miso in the Creme Caramel is inspired (and if we were another chef, it’s a dish we would totally steal).
Service is unobtrusive and knowledgeable. The kitchen is also happy to work with dietary needs and everyone feels looked after.
Would I go back to Taiko? Absolutely. While diners in Dubai are spoiled for Asian fusion, Taiko should be high on the list of new places to try.
Robata Edamame, AED 20
Black Garlic Hummus, AED 35
Edamame Hummus, AED 24
Infused Melon, AED 39
Watermelon Sashimi, AED 25
Torched Salmon, AED 46
Soy Glazed Wagyu, AED 58
Arabic Lamb, AED 52
Tiger Prawn, AED 54
Peas and Tofu Gyoza, AED 48
Dynamite Wasabi Prawns, AED 75
Beef Tenderloin, AED 165
Green Coriander Curry, AED 95
Lime Risotini, AED 25
Taiko Rice, AED 32
Chocolate Structures, AED 62</em
Creme Caramel, AED 52
Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk, Dubai, +971 4 281 4010