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Japanese Fusion from Sydney to Dubai

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May 31, 2014 / Japanese / By
Anna

On a whim, my daughter, her three month old baby and I dropped into Toko in Downtown Dubai, just down the road from Dubai Mall for an impromptu lunch. The restaurant is a branch of a dining concept that originated in Sydney.

Parking is difficult, and we did not want to walk any distance in 44 degree heat, so we valet parked in the Vida Hotel that the restaurant is attached to only to find when we retuned that there was a AED 50 charge, or £8.00, unusual in Dubai where valet parking is usually free. I have since found out that they offer valet parking in front of the restaurant at night, and there is a parking building across the road - Building 2.

We were offered the businessman's lunch, which we found amusing since not many businessmen go out to lunch with a baby. Perhaps they should. Meeting the needs of a baby might keep things real.

The kitchen is a stainless steel wonder in full view. So, if your date is dull, there is something to distract you. Watching busy restaurant kitchens in action is entertaining. I did notice that the chefs and kitchen staff all seemed to like each other, and there was a good deal of chat once service came to an end that day. I must admit, I find it hard to rationalize the production of delicious food with the acrimony that some super-chefs seem to think essential to the commercial kitchen.

As we had the cutest baby in the room with us, well the only baby, we got lots of attention. It is clear that babies are socially acceptable in the Arab world. And as a result, they learn how to socialize with people of all ages when very young, just as Italian children do. We were seated in a space that was convenient for a buggy, and there was room on the bench seat for baby to stretch out when he got restless. They also have several lovely outdoor spaces, but not surprisingly, they were not in use in 40-48 degree heat.

With no discussion, we both decided to go with the set menu as it offered considerable choice and was a bargain at AED 115, about £18.00. However, by the time we had added non-alcoholic drinks and two extra servings the final bill for two had doubled to AED460, around £74 so it is not a cheap restaurant.

We both opted for scallops, sushi and black cod. But in homage to the set lunches we used to enjoy years ago in Osaka, we added chawan mushi. This is a savory egg custard. This particular version was novel as it came with truffle shavings on top. Initially, I was disturbed by this, but I was soon eating my words along with the food as it was an inspired addition.

The scallops, four little ones, were little parcels of sharp flavor. The sushi was interesting, too. Most of it was standard, but one piece had a black slice of what turned out to be eggplant on top. It was fine having a similar consistency to fish anyway. The black cod was a sizable chunk of oily fish that melted in the mouth along with the accompanying smear of miso paste. But we did not get the miso soup and green tea that was part of the set menu. We did arrive rather late, so perhaps there was some element of rush in getting us fed and away.

Apparently Will Smith attended the opening night. It’s a shame my invite got lost in transit, next time!

I have already advised the tall guy (husband) to treat himself when he breezes back into Dubai, something he is only doing in the height of summer to keep his visa in good order.

Definitely must go back soon myself and I will hunt down that miso.


Toko

Country: United Arab Emirates

Province/State: Dubayy

City: Downtown

Address: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: Just past Dubai Mall in front of Vida Hotel

Phone: N/A

Website:http://www.vida-hotels.co...

Price Guide:$$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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