Same same but different…

When you think about a mall food hall, premium food doesn’t generally come to mind – but that’s where Depachika is different. The Japanese dining destination, found in Palm Jumeirah’s Nakheel Mall, is home to an ever-growing number of home-grown concepts, each offering top quality dining options.

One such option, and the new kid on the block, is former Zuma chef, Reif Othman’s latest venture, Kushi by Reif. After the roaring success of his first solo project Reif Japanese Kushiyaki in Dar Wasl Mall, the acclaimed chef is back with a more paired back (but equally as exciting) concept.

Kushi by Reif is described as ‘same same but different’ – a Japanese soul food grab & go stall. It has a counter-style set up with stools set against the service bar and a small number of tables. The menu is concise, only including the best of Japanese basics from ramen to kushi.

The star of the show is Reif’s signature Wagyu sando (Dhs158). Admittedly more than we’d ever normally pay for a sandwich but worth every bit of the eye-watering price tag. Humble white toasted bread encases the marinated Wagyu, exploding with flavour and juices – prepare to get messy as you dive into this one.

We’re advised to try the fries too, which don’t disappoint. Despite being smothered with a creamy indulgent truffle mayonnaise (Dhs48) the chips remain crunchy, crispy and textured. The rough edge exposing the homemade aspect of the excellent side dish.

For our kushi (skewers), we try the Angus beef and truffle mayo (Dhs68) and chicken breast with yuzu miso (Dhs45). The beef was a clear favourite, with the simple flavours blending seamlessly. We’re not sure if it was the yuzu or miso that didn’t agree with our tastebuds but the chicken skewers offered an unusual taste.

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We could’ve reordered the beef gyoza (Dhs48) again if we had any space left. Light and fluffy dumplings came out piping hot with a crispy underside and sweet soy sauce on the side. All of the dishes arrive to the table when they’re ready, meaning you can sample them at their optimum temperature.

Across from the Kushi counter is a patisserie display with some of Reif’s most notable creations. The tiramisu boba (Dhs38) is an interesting choice (it’s wrapped with plastic so that when you peel away the casing, the dish flows out like a broken dam).

We can only manage a slice of goma cheesecake (Dhs36), however, but it’s worth rocking the unbuttoned jeans look as the crispy base is ever so moreish. Using black sesame, the dish avoids becoming over-sweet and cleverly combines crunchy and creamy textures to create a wonderfully simple dessert.

Stepping up the mall food hall game is the hand-picked selection of mini restaurants in Depachika. Kushi by Reif is a brilliant addition and one well-worth making a trip to, or if you’re not a mall-lover check them out on Deliveroo.

Kushi By Reif, Depachika Food Hall, Nakheel Mall, Palm Jumeirah, daily 10am to 10pm. Tel: (050) 423 1885. @kushibyreif