Japanese fine cuisine. Room for another?

Professional snowboarder-turned-celebrity chef Akira Back opens his self-titled restaurant among a wave of new Japanese restaurants that include Matagi at Emerald Palace Kempinski and Netsu at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, helmed by Ross Shonhan of Bone Daddies fame.

So, what can Akira Back’s restaurant atop W Dubai – The Palm bring to the table (or sushi counter), that isn’t already there?

To reach the restaurant, guests enter through a dramatic vortex-style entrance. Dramatic, yes, but intimidating, no, thanks to a friendly hostess who greets and leads us into the main restaurant. You’ll have to pass an open kitchen and sushi counter to get to it, although due to the long, narrow nature of the restaurant, there’s only few seats where you can actually watch the chefs at work.

Inside, tables are split between cushy velvet booths set back against the wall and lower level tables that look out through floor-to-ceiling windows. If the weather permits, try the terrace. It’s got a sultry, LA rooftop vibe that Akira Back restaurants are synonymous for, with dim lighting interrupted by neon pink hues, a floating bar surrounded by water, and smooth house hits providing the perfect soundtrack to the setting.

The views are stunning. While directly below you can see across the expansive pool deck, further into the distance the Dubai skyline serves as a picture-perfect backdrop.

The restaurant’s slick sophistication extends to the menu. All designed to share, it’s split into soup, cold and hot dishes, salads, signature rolls, robata, sushi and sashimi, mains and sides. It’s an extensive selection, and although we note some pan-Asian influences, it focusing mostly on Japanese cuisine.

Although not an obvious choice, Horenzo shira AE (Dhs50) is effectively a delicious spinach salad. Compressed portions of spinach are rolled into neat parcels and soaked in a creamy sesame sauce. The signature tuna pizza (Dhs110) comes strongly recommended and doesn’t disappoint. A perfectly light, crispy base topped with slivers of fresh raw tuna is finished with shavings of truffle and white truffle oil, with the light tuna flavours balancing the rich truffle taste. A hirame carpaccio (Dhs90) is another beautifully presented dish, packed full of flavours with crispy shallots on top and a punchy sauce that shows chef Akira’s adventurous approach to cooking.

While there’s a strong focus on vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu, you don’t want to miss out on the black cod (Dhs150) served with a cloud of sake foam. Marinated in miso, the fish flakes effortlessly off our fork and every mouthful is sensational. It’s a bold claim, but we’d say it’s the best black cod we’ve ever tasted.

We finish the meal with the aptly named chocolate in a cup (Dhs45). Rich, velvety chocolate layered with banana foam, Nutella and vanilla ice cream is small but mighty, and more than enough to share between two.

With most dishes upwards of Dhs80, dining at Akira Back can be quite pricey. But for the stunning setting, sleek atmosphere and delicious dishes, we’ll be back, Back.

W Dubai – The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Sat to Thur 7pm to 12.30am, Fri 12.30pm to 4pm, 7pm to 12.30am. Tel: (04) 245 5555. marriott.com

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