Review: Kinoya – from supper club to fully-fledged licensed restaurant
Can this Izakaya handle the hype?
The supper club circuit remains in its infancy in Dubai’s dining scene. Sure, there are a few sporadic pop-up series, and a couple of joint ventures here and there, but there’s certainly space for more. These micro events are great for perfecting cooking: to experiment, to try, to fail, to grow, to learn. They are also a way to gather a loyal following who want to be part of the process and understand that it is a work in progress, whether the end goal is to open a restaurant or not.
One lady who has dominated the supper club scene here is Neha Mishra. After quietly accruing a small legion of ramen fans from years of intimate, sold-out supper clubs, Neha has opened Kinoya, a ramen meets izakaya spot inside the Onyx tower in The Greens.
This almost strip mall-style location may not have the glamour of DIFC but don’t be fooled: Neha serves delicious ramens at her Izakaya, and plenty of other interesting dishes worth trying, too.
The set-up of the licensed restaurant gears up for counter-style snacks for one, quick dinners for two, or sectioned-off, low seating group parties – the latter looking especially fun.
We came for an after-work kick-back, a couple of ramen bowls, and some snacks either side. We ignored the nigiri; there are so many other places in Dubai for that. Instead we started with the burnt butter scallops (Dhs50), two excellent plump pucks lightly sticky and sweet. Grilled wagyu tsukune (grounded beef meatball) skewers arrived next. The two unusual oblong patties were charred using binchotan charcoal, and served with a small egg yolk in soy sauce. It’s tender and very well-seasoned, but dipping into a raw egg yolk divided opinion. Some loved the extra sticky-meets-savoury sensation; others found it a bit too slimy.
But the opinion of Kinoya’s ramen was unanimous – a delightful, soul-warming bowl of goodness worth a weekly visit. There are three permutations and a wonton soup: sho ramen (chicken broth with dashi; Dhs50 for a regular bowl, Dhs60 for a large), shoyu ramen (slow cooked chicken broth with shoyu tare; Dhs50 for a regular bowl, Dhs60 for a large) and the spicy miso ramen (chicken broth with a miso, chilli and garlic paste; Dhs50 for a regular bowl, Dhs60 for a large), and you can add extra toppings and ingredients as you like. We slurped our way to the bottom of the sho ramen bowl, which is made with a split base of chicken broth and dashi, poured atop a mess of house-made noodles, fortified with two tiny but tender chicken strips, a soft egg and paper thin sheet of nori.
What you get at Kinoya, apart from a happy and full belly, is the sense that this really is a passion project, by a woman who, against the odds, has turned a supper club into a bricks and mortar establishment. Nice people. Good price. Great food. Licensed. Seven words that tell you all you need to know.
Onyx Tower, The Greens, Mon to Sat noon to 1am (closed Sundays). Tel: (0)45486776. kinoya.ae