After a fleeting springtime opening, Hanami Japanese restaurant is back in bloom… 

You have to feel for the team at Hanami. No sooner had they opened the doors to their restaurant in the Andaz Hotel than Dubai was plunged into lockdown. Fast-forward a few months, and this sleek Tokyo-inspired bolthole is finally getting its rightful time in the sun.

The restaurant

Hanami takes its name from the Japanese custom of viewing cherry blossoms in spring, and this motif subtly weaves its way into the decor. Geisha murals and neon signs lead into the dimly lit dining room, where sculptural light fittings and textured ‘trunks’ add an elegant sense of whimsy.

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Floor-to-ceiling windows and a wraparound terrace capitalise on Dubai’s iconic sights, sweeping from Dubai Marina to Burj Khalifa on a clear day. When social distancing rules ease off, a seat at the sushi bar promises front-row culinary action, but for now there’s really no bad seat in the house, with intimate nooks and well-spaced tables taking advantage of those vistas.

The menu

Hanami’s menu is equally alluring, delivering a refined take on Japanese street food. We hand over the ordering reins to our waiter, Liam, who kicks things off with a bowl of robata-grilled edamame (Dhs33), served with garlic oil and nubs of crunchy fried garlic.

We’re still licking our fingers when he returns with the maguro pizza (Dhs105), a light-on-its-feet combination of tuna sashimi, tomato, pickled onion and kimchi cream over a crisp tortilla base.

Juicy ebi gyoza (Dhs61) are beautifully presented on a little bundle of twigs, with an umami-rich oyster mayo for dipping.

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A sushi platter arrives in a plume of dry ice, bearing a standout unagi maki (Dhs88) filled with teriyaki eel, avocado, cucumber and a smoky-sweet Kawasaki sauce. Less impressive was the sake avocado maki (Dhs80), the delicate salmon overshadowed by an intense truffle mayo.

Things return to fine form with the burokkori (Dhs50), a showstopping vegetable dish of stir-fried broccolini, shimeji and enoki mushrooms, topped with curls of bonito flakes.

For the final savoury course, we sink our teeth into a brilliant wagyu katsu bun (Dhs143). The thick, tender slab of panko-crumbed striploin comes in a pillowy rice-flour bun, fresh from the bakery at Locale downstairs.

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To finish, we’re served the eponymous Hanami dessert (Dhs55). Like an edible bonsai garden, it features a delicate chocolate tree, a chocolate sphere filled with mousse and yuzu curd, matcha ‘moss’, lemon blossom jelly, and yuzu sorbet. It’s a celebration of textures and subtle flavours.

The same attention to detail is on show at the bar, offering an extensive sake selection, plus cocktails named after Tokyo neighbourhoods, such as the refreshing, zippy Ginza (Dhs70), with shiso-infused sake, gin, elderflower and yuzu.

Hanami may have had something of a false start back in March, but with its stunning decor, stellar cuisine and switched-on service, this Palm Jumeirah restaurant is now in full bloom.

Hanami, Andaz Dubai The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Mon to Sat 6pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 581 1234

Images: Supplied