Dubai certainly doesn’t have a deficiency of celebrity chefs, but is there room for an Iron Chef?

Since opening November, the Renaissance Downtown Hotel has established itself as quite the foodie hotspot, home to two restaurants and a bar by celebrity chef David Myers, as well as a modern Middle Eastern brasserie. Completing the line-up is Japanese celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto, best known as the star of the cooking show Iron Chef.

His eponymous restaurant is spread over the hotel’s 23rd and 24th floors, and is accessed via its own elevator entrance just left of the hotel lobby. Morimoto’s jovial face flashes before you as you make your way towards the lifts. To really labour the point, as you step into the restaurant, you’re confronted with an enormous Japanese lantern bearing the name ‘Morimoto’.

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Everything about the restaurant – which seats around 250 diners – is go-big-or-go-home, from the sea anemone-like light fixtures to the giant glass-encased bonsai tree in the main dining area. A spacious outdoor terrace offers spectacular views of Downtown Dubai, but if you’d prefer to be transported to Japan, there’s a 10-seater sushi counter where you can watch chefs work their magic on gleaming-red cuts of raw fish.

The fun continues upstairs, with live teppanyaki stations and a stylish bar and lounge area complete with a DJ. The upper level is also home to a private dining room and private-access terrace, where you’re given a special passcode to enter. It’s almost like something out of a yakuza movie.

It’s an impressive venue, but not intimidating, which sets the tone for the menu. Morimoto has mastered the art of marrying western and Japanese food traditions, so you’ll find plenty of approachable dishes, like tuna pizza and hamachi tacos.

We start with the spicy tuna tacos (Dhs90), and are impressed by the clean, bold flavours and the moreish textures of crisp shell, creamy avocado and silky tuna.

The chicken gyoza (Dhs60) are nothing like the gluggy dumplings we’ve come to expect; they’re nicely plump and al dente, served with a punchy ginger sauce.

For the main course, we order the seafood tobanyaki (Dhs260), an oversized pot packed with lobster, king crab, mussels, clams and scallops, all swimming in a spicy red miso sake broth. Our companion selects the Australian wagyu ribeye (Dhs390), which arrives on a sizzling plate. Both dishes are packed with umami drama, and the generous portions justify the price.

We spend some time mulling over the dessert menu, before settling on the s’more (Dhs45). The crumbled graham cracker and salted milk chocolate mousse cut through the sweetness of the marshmallow, elevating this campfire treat to something quite special.

If you didn’t know who Morimoto was before, you certainly won’t be forgetting his name after this experience. The stunning venue, faultless service and inventive menu more than live up to the chef’s reputation. We’ll be back – the sushi counter awaits.

Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai, Sun to Wed 6pm to 2am, Thur to Sat 6pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 5125577.

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