In anticipation of the unveiling of Nobu Doha at the Four Seasons hotel, we look at some of our favourite Japanese dishes in the city, and have an interview with the man himself.
Yen Sushi Bar
Address: Open daily 11.30am-midnight. La Cigale Hotel, 60 Suhaim Bin Hamad Street, C Ring Road (4428 8698).
The restaurant: Located on the Lobby level of La Cigale Hotel, Yen Sushi Bar is a modern Japanese venue designed in a contemporary style with fiber optic lighting, rice paper walls, a revolving belt and handmade stools. Yen can seat up to 30 guests and it serves a wide array of freshly-made sushi and sashimi, presented on a rotating belt on colour-coded plates, or guests can choose from a selection on the à la carte menu. Sushi lovers can experience one of the star rolls ‘La Cigale Salmon Wrap with Avocado,’ where the chef has recently added some strawberries to it.
Chef’s signature dish: The chefs are constantly adding their touches to the dishes. One of the signature rolls is “La Cigale Crispy,” where they use special ingredients such as the tempura flakes, crab with special Japanese sauce, sesame seeds and flying fish caviar on top. People love it for its crunchy and unique taste.
Best of the rest: Yen Sushi Bar also brings the essence of Japan with a wide variety of rolls, such as the “Dragon Roll,” which consists of crab salad wrapped with eel, avocado, crab and the chef’s special sauce, in addition to the “salmon seaweed,” with its special ingredients, toppings and sauces.
Address: Open daily 6pm-11pm. Radisson Blu Hotel, Salwa Road, Intersection of the C Ring Road, Rawdat Al Khail (4428 1555).
The restaurant: From the Geisha printed curtains through the stone pathway, Sakura leads you into a world of Japanese tranquillity, celebrating artistic creations and culinary sensations. With seating up to a maximum of 65 guests at a time, you can take a pick of enjoying the theatrical master chefs around the teppanyaki barbecue pit or sit in serenity at the sushi bar. Private dining rooms with traditional seating can morph into a perfect spot for intimate family gatherings or business dealings alike.
Soft lighting and music heighten the experience, complementing the delicate yet delectable menu offerings.
Signature Dish: The special dish is “Sakura 4-2.” From the novice Japanese cuisine enthusiast to the culinary connoisseur, Chef recommends this delightful selection of artwork for every taste bud. With exquisitely hand crafted tako, tai and ika sushi, a delicate sashimi selection and makimono balanced to perfection, this dish offers diversity and variety, keeping your senses intrigued.
Best of the rest: Three other dishes to try are the ebi tempura, chicken katsu and kani salad. You can indulge your senses in the tangy, sweet and full of flavour of katsu sauce, or you can treat yourself to exciting and crunchy ebi tempura. It is highly recommended to try the simply refreshing kani salad to complete the Japanese journey and get the most out of the experience.
Address: Open daily 6pm-midnight. 6 La Croisette, Porto Arabia, The Pearl Qatar, (4495 3876) ext 2101.
The restaurant: ‘Megu,’ in Japanese, translates to ‘blessing,’ and the restaurant offers modern Japanese cuisine and a grilling technique known as “binchotan,” a type of charcoal only found near Kyoto. The interior is chic and contemporary, yet managing to keep sophisticated and timeless.
Much of the dishware is designed especially for the use of Megu restaurants and one of the dishware that really stands out is the Kutani ‘Akae’ plates. These plates have been designed and painted by Buzan Fukushima, who is one of the most famous traditional craftsmen in Japan.
Chef’s signature dish: The chef’s signature dish is crispy kanzuri shrimp, which combines battered rock shrimps with Megu’s original kanzuri cream sauce and garnished simply with finely sliced scallion. What makes this dish special is the base of the cream sauce that is exclusively focused on the kanzuri, which is a chilli paste produced in Arai, Niigata. Unlike other chilli pastes which are hung out to dry, kanzuri is laid deep under the snow for three to four days, adding other basic ingredients, and it is left for three years to ferment itself. The resulting taste reminds you of all the flavours involved in its creation.
Best of the rest: Two other great dishes at Megu include tuna and avocado (Megu style) and the Kagerou wagyu steak. The tuna and avocado is an appetizer that has blue-fin akami tuna, sandwiched in between two thin layers of avocado and served over a blend of avocado and wasabi purée, garnished with diced mango and Parmesan cheese. The main spotlight on this dish is the quality of the highly-rated tuna; blue-fin tuna that has a soft richness in its taste.
The wagyu steak is served over sizzling hot river stones, topped with garlic chips and, on its side, the original soy and garlic sauce. The hot river stones are imported from the Nakagawa River. Wagyu, which literally means “Japanese cow,” is from a special breed of cows that are treated with utmost care. The methods of care are somewhat alike to the cows in the Kobe region and ranges from massaging of the cows to feeding with organic and healthy food.
Junko Sushi & Japanese Dining
Address: Open daily noon-midnight, Parcel 7, The Pearl Qatar (4002 8294).
With a capacity to seat 86 people and inclusive of two private rooms, ideal for families, friends or businesses to book out, Junko, situated at The Pearl, is very much focused on traditional Japanese cuisine, with little touches to suit local and expatriate tastes. Striving to use the traditional “Washoku” style of cooking, based on using rice and miso varieties of dishes, and using many ingredients sourced from Japan, Junko is a great spot to enjoy Japanese food. There are over 100 varieties of sushi and other Washoku dishes on the menu.
Signature sushis: Three special sushis at Junko restaurant, as explained by the lady herself, Junko Nanri:
• Pearl roll
‘This is original fusion cuisine at its best. Mixing traditional Japanese ebi (shrimp) and tempura (a batter) and sushi, it is very popular with the guests. It was named after the location of our restaurant, as well as the fact that the pearl is an exemplary traditional Japanese jewel. It is the most popular item of our sushi roll menu and has a really great, crispy texture.’
• Spicy chicken roll
‘Not everyone likes fish, so we made this for those that don’t. Chicken goes well with sumeshi (sushi rice) and is popular for Japanese people, as well as others.’
• Black Thunder
‘This uses special spices from Japan and homemade spicy sauce. The main ingredient is deep fried crabstick and it has a superb crunch to it. There are also many styles of traditional sushi on the menu for those that prefer pure authenticity.’
Here are some more restaurants in doha with Japanese cuisine to try
Yee Hwa serves fantastic Japanese cuisine, and the relaxed atmosphere and none-too-flush aesthetic actually gives the place a feel of authenticity. Specialising in Japanese and Korean cuisine, the menu for the former is comprehensive. The Nabeyaki udon is particularly excellent.
Al Kinana Street, Al Sadd (4441 9898).
The Four Seasons has an excellent restaurant here, and the lunchtime Bento boxes are a fantastic way to have lunch if you are in a rush, with an excellent array of Japanese favourites laid out in true Japanese style.
Four Seasons Doha, West Bay (4494 8888).
Oishii translates to ‘very tasty’ – (or near enough). This excellent restaurant has all the classics you would crave from Japanese cuisine, with a great selection of sushis and sashimis, conveniently tucked away in Royal Plaza shopping Mall.
Open Sat-Thu 11am-11pm, Friday 1pm-11pm, Royal Plaza, Sadd (4442 8989).
A neo concept indeed, offering a range of Japanese (and, bizarrely, Italian dishes), with the former particularly excelling. The sushi platters are the most exciting and tantalising of the options on the menu.
Salwa Road, Souq Najd (4432 2539).