I'm back to Deira on my mission to discover the next culinary hidden gem. I have been exploring the Asiana hotel a lot lately mainly because it offers so much in one convenient location. However, it also has this unique authentic feel to it, as if you've left Dubai and set foot into a little Asian haven. I've already checked the Korean off my restaurant "to-do" list, next up is the Japanese joint, Hanabi.
We were seated at our cozy little table towards the back wall of the restaurant. There wasn't much foot traffic in there, so we were able to select a table to our liking, On the charger plate was this beautiful Origami crane, a unique touch and warm welcome. The crane is symbolic in Japanese culture as a sign of hope and peace.
We were then served cold Mugicha Tea, which is traditionally made by briefly simmering roasted barley grains. It has a toasty taste, with slight bitter undertones. Many people in Japan believe that Mugicha helps to cleanse the body. There have been studies done that may indicate that it helps to reduce stress.
After we placed our dinner order, we were brought this Amuse Bouche. A light salad consisting of mushrooms, spinach, seaweed, and pickled carrots. So far the experience has been pleasant, and it felt more and more like this Japanese was not catering to a western audience like Zuma or Okku. In fact there clientele was indigenous to the Japanese region, and therefor were catering to a more traditional palette.
One of our starters was a fresh seafood salad. It consisted of a prawns, octopus, seaweed, sea cucumbers, and a touch of sesame. Next we received our sashimi selection of Blue Fin Tuna, Yellow Fin Tuna, Salmon. All were delicately sliced and plated, and the freshness of these 3 items could be seen by the quality of presentation and the rate of how it melted in your mouth. The colors and marbling also say it all.
We also had to try some of the hot items on the menu. I'm a sucker for anything made with Miso, and of course there was plenty to choose from. We ordered the Miso Butter Scallops and the Miso Sea Bass. Both were served with these chewy yellow soybeans, an unusual texture, and first for me. The best of these two was the scallop dish. The balance of flavors was perfect, rich and creamy, but not too heavy. The vegetables were al dente and scallops were cooked to a tendery perfection. The Miso Sea Bass, albeit presented beautifully, and cooked well, didn't really have that powerful punch I have grown to love. It was a delicate and traditional method of preparation, but it needs a little more work on flavor development.
Desert was a must when I heard they had Mochi on the menu. They only had one flavor available for the Mochi, which wasVanilla. However they did offer Green Tea and Red Bean Ice Cream. The Mochi, a doughy rice cake filled with vanilla ice cream was sweet and smooth.The rest of the icy treats were also tasty, but not as smooth. The flavor of the green tea ice cream was subtle, and the red bean was more robust.
Hanabi was overall a good experience. The waitstaff is almost subservient, but happy to answer questions and accommodate. The restaurant also has 4 smaller private rooms where you can host a lovely dinner for up to 10 ppl. Asiana Hotel is located in the heart of Deira and is a lovely little escape from the Dubai "norm". With authentic Kimonos and decor, its difficult to resist this unique experience.
If you're looking for a fun night out, book dinner at one of the other four restaurants ranging from Chinese to Korean and Seafood to Filipino. After dinner you can take a trip up stairs to their karaoke rooms in the Opus Bar and sing the night away. Check out the web-site for more information: