Review: Akiba Dori in the Dubai Design District
What exactly is Tokyo-style pizza, and is it any good?
You’ve heard of Neapolitan pizza, Chicago-style pizza and New York-style pizza. But you might not have encountered Tokyo-style pizza before. We certainly hadn’t, until we visited Akiba Dori in the Dubai Design District (D3).
The licensed restaurant has been brought to D3 by restaurateur Samer Hamadeh, who is also behind JBR’s Stereo Arcade nightclub. It takes its inspiration from Akihabara, Tokyo’s neon-filled electronics district. A wet-look cobblestone path runs through the restaurant, which is divided into colourful storefronts – there’s a bar, bakery, arcade room, and pizzeria. The overall effect fits in perfectly with the street art-covered hipster enclave that is D3.
Akiba Dori’s menu is split into salads, street food, specials and baked goods, with a separate “Tokyopolitan” pizza menu. We started with the sashimi salad (Dhs55), a mix of tuna and salmon sashimi, green leaves, and carrots. We enjoyed the impeccably fresh slivers of raw fish, which were elevated but not overpowered by a tangy apple ginger dressing.
The wagyu katsu sando (Dhs77) was also excellent as a starter. The dainty sandwich consists of a melt-in-your-mouth hunk of wagyu beef, coated in panko crumbs and served between lightly toasted pieces of crustless bread. We were impressed to see it on the menu – it’s one of Japan’s hottest food trends right now, and we’re pretty sure this is the only place in Dubai you can get it. This dish alone would be worth the trip out to D3.
But we were most eager to try that curious “Tokyopolitan” pizza, which uses Japanese flour, salt, and wisdom (Akiba Dori’s Chef Luigi was sent to Tokyo to train with one of Japan’s top pizza makers). The dough is baked in a wood-fired oven at 500 degrees for just under a minute.
Do yourselves a favour and pull up a seat in front of the oven while your pizza is being cooked. There’s something wonderful about seeing it slide out of the fire, covered in handsome char marks and bubbles. We ordered the 5 Formaggi (Dhs71), which was topped with a swirl of acacia honey. The sweetness of the honey cut through the salty cheese beautifully. An unexpected match made in heaven.
For dessert, we tried the Hakata cheesecake (Dhs27). While it failed to pass the “jiggle” test – one of the most satisfying aspects of the Japanese treat – it was still a lovely palate cleanser; soft and fluffy and not too sweet. Their Nutella-filled taiyaki (Dhs17) was also a fun take on the fish-shaped waffle, which usually comes filled with red-bean paste.
In a city saturated with sushi spots, Akiba Dori is definitely onto a good thing. D3: Home to the best pizza this side of Tokyo. Who knew?
Akiba Dori, Building 8, Dubai Design District. Sun to Thurs noon to midnight, Fri & Sat noon to 2am. Tel: (04) 770 7949. @AkibaDori