Review: Netsu at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai

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A Japanese steakhouse with the fieriest grill in the world. Is it too hot to handle?

On entering Netsu, a Japanese offering from the just-open Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, something bizarre is happening. Namely: no one is looking at their phones.

Everyone’s heads are turned instead towards the Warayaki grill slap-bang in the middle of the restaurant, where 900°C flames – as a waiter will casually inform you, should you get too close  – shoot two metres into the air.

Traditionally a practice from the Kochi region of Japan, where fishermen roast their tuna over straw fires for maximum searing and a rare centre, the centerpiece sets the tone for some excellent meats and fishes to come.

Londoners might know Ross Shonhan from Bone Daddies or Flesh & Buns, and the chef has brought his talents here in an upmarket display of what he does best: Japanese-style cooking that’s super accessible.

Enthusiastic waiters (plus a sake sommelier) are on hand to advise on the somewhat extensive menu, comprised of various small, hot and cold dishes, sushi and sashimi, tempura, maki rolls, Netsu specials… you get the idea. There’s a lot
of choice.

Ask for recommendations based on your own preferences and throw the ‘starter, mains and dessert’ concept out of the window; if there’s ever a time to get six sharing dishes and no main, this is it.

For appearance’s sake we went by the menu layout, starting with small dishes.

The calamari (Dhs45) was light and crunchy, with green chilli dressing making a bowl of fried squid as healthy as it could be. Korean fried chicken (Dhs55) was salty, sticky and moreish, and cold tiradito (Dhs56-78) refreshed the palate – the Peruvian dish of cured fish accompanied by a welcome Japanese addition of pickled kumquat. A selection of sushi and sashimi was uninspired and better skipped for more exciting dishes such as the humble grilled corn (Dhs48) – an unassuming, yet worthy champion.

It contended with the Wagyu short rib (Dhs220) for standout dish of the evening. Marinated in just salt and pepper, it was vacuum packed in 70-degree water and then grilled simply with soy and sesame: the meat was wrapped up in baby gem lettuce, packed with mixed pickles and devoured by the table.    

When the flames get too high, you could take a saketini outside to enjoy the terrace, fringed with candle-lit pools. Netsu is pricey, but the ambience – plus dedication to traditional cooking styles – renders it a must-go for an intimate evening.

Netsu, Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, Tel: (04) 7772232. mandarinoriental.com/dubai

By Georgina Lavers

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Images: Supplied