Review: Omakase excellence at TakaHisa
Embark on a tasting menu of the finest flavours at this culinary experience at Caesars Palace…
It might not be very en vogue to say, but I find tasting menus divisive. On the one hand, it takes away the pressure of choosing well, forces you to try new things, and ensures you try the dishes the culinary team rate most. On the other, you may end up with half a dozen dishes you don’t enjoy.
But in combining sushi and Wagyu, two things I love, I was confident I was in safe hands at Takahisa. This sleek Japanese restaurant is one of a dozen dining options at Caesars Palace, set on the hotel’s ground floor. It’s divided between a dimly lit, minimalist and modern restaurant, and a more relaxed alfresco terrace. The two vibes are distinctly different. On the terrace, groups of guests are here for drinks, grazing on sushi plates, soaking in the views, listening to lively pop tunes while flaring bartenders impress with their tricks. Inside is a far more sophisticated offering, where guests – like us – mostly perch up around the counter ready to indulge in one of the three tasting menus.
Counter seated restaurants haven’t quite made the same impact on the Dubai dining scene the way they have in culinary capitals like London and Tokyo, but this intimate culinary experience is one we thoroughly enjoy. As we’re seated, we’re immediately introduced to the friendly sushi master, chef Takashi Namekata, who alongside Wagyu master chef Hisao Ueda has devised the trio of omakase menus. Guests can opt for either the sushi omakase (from Dhs1,800 per person), Wagyu omakase (from Dhs1,800 per person) or a combination omakase (Dhs2,500), which offers a mix of both. It’s the latter that we pick, and watch the trio of chefs behind the counter quickly get to work, expertly slicing, dicing and plating each dish with military precision.
The first course is a strong start, thin slices of white fish sashimi with chef Takahisa topping the fresh fish with generous shavings of white truffle right in front of us. As he does, he talks us through the detailed approach taken to source ingredients from Japan, which the restaurant imports directly rather than through local suppliers to ensure the finest quality.
Next up, a Kobe beef Shabu Shabu, essentially a boiling cup of hot pot, is filled with melt-in-the-mouth Kobe beef and simply seasoned with a sesame sauce. Then, a dish of rich indulgence: four delicately sliced pieces of Kobe beef, served with a punchy fresh wasabi and caviar.
As we move our way through the menu, each course perfectly balances the next. When the intensity of several Kobe beef courses starts to feel overpowering, a well timed lighter dish returns the equilibrium.
The quality of ingredients, all of the finest calibre, remains evident throughout, and this is a menu clearly created for those that appreciate those high-grade flavours: generous dollops of caviar, slivers of fatty bluefun tuna, cubes of buttery Kobe beef, layers of uni topping perfect pieces of sushi.
While each of the 10 courses might look small, we find we’re quickly filling up. But on we press, finishing every bite of the autumn toro caviar, a dish of bluefin tuna with caviar; and when the perfect squares of Kobe beef katsu sando arrive, we universally agree that the delicate pieces of tender striploin are among the finest we’ve eaten this year. Whether that’s down to the perfect cooking, the score 12 A5 Wagyu, or the chef’s secret sauce, we don’t know – perhaps it’s all three.
A round of sushi seems almost never ending – pieces topped with white fish, prawn, and tuna all of which we delight in dunking in a wasabi-spiked soy sauce.
It takes our stretchiest pants to squeeze in dessert, which changes regularly. On our visit, it’s a perfect cup of matcha tiramisu with brown sugar, served on a gold rimmed Louis Vuitton plate, the perfect end to complement the decadence of the menu.
Verdict: At Dhs2,500 per person, this is one of the priciest omakase offerings in the city. But the intimate setting, quality of ingredients, and outstanding finesse make this a standout omakase experience.
Takahisa, Caesars Palace Dubai, Ground Floor, Bluewaters, Dubai, 3pm to 2am daily. Tel: (0)4 556 6688, takahisa.ae