Motomachi: The next best Japanese restaurant in Dubai
Japanese art adorn the interior of Motomachi.
The wooden lighting fixtures are a real eye candy evoking a relaxing, airy ambience.
Named after a district in Japan, as you enter Motomachi restaurant in Dubai, you’re instantly transported to a Zen-like place. Featuring a blend of Indonesian and Japanese architectural styles, you wonder if you’re in in Bali or Japan, or both. The hanging beams on the ceiling are made of brick-styled wood, stacked alternately to allow fresh air to circulate easily and made it eco-friendly. It is so reminiscent of Alila Villas Uluwatu: An Architectural Gem in Bali. While right underneath the hanging beams, the rustic, overwhelming teak wood tables made me feel like I was in a cozy, Balinese- and Japanese-themed garden. Only that I was actually inside an inviting restaurant, the noise of the Dubai Festival City mall quickly drowned out by the restaurant’s quiet and relaxing ambience. Coupled with the all smiles Japanese staffs, we knew we were in good hands.
Japanese- and Balinese-themed architectural styles blend seamlessly throughout Motomachi. In the background is our delightful waiter Ryo patiently waiting for guests to arrive.
As it was the restaurant’s soft opening, the setup and service were slightly different. We were asked to sit among the students of the Ikebana class the restaurant owner regularly facilitates. One of the two massive teak wood tables (one was carved out of a whole tree trunk) was specially prepared for us, decked out in an Ikebana-style bouquet. Just as I was about to order, my friend Tess, who graciously invited me, gently pointed to me out that we were only ordering drinks. A pre-prepared menu was going to be served that night so we didn’t have to choose. Even better I thought. I couldn’t think of a better drink in a Japanese restaurant than a cup of hot Japanese green tea so that’s what I ordered. Within minutes, our ever-smiling waiter Ryo, arrived with my green tea in a dainty ceramic teapot, cup and saucer.
Ebi Yasai Kekiage, shrimp and vegetable tempura
With Maryam, half Japanese half Emirati, the owner’s very friendly daughter, also at hand to lend a hand during the restaurant’s soft opening.
As other guests, mostly Lebanese and Japanese women married to French guys, joined us at the table, food was quickly served ‘buffet’ style. Trays upon trays of delectable Japanese dishes seemingly magically appeared at our table. We started with Nopei Jeru soup, a shrimp and vegetable soup with white radish, carrot, Shimeji mushroom and Japanese leek. It was warm and not too hot. I would have preferred to have had it a little spicier though but that’s just me. Then we were served with Kizami Salad. It was a concoction of 11 kinds of chopped vegetables garnished with avocado ume wasabi. Definitely a must-try. We also had Ebi Tempura, basically a shrimp tempura and a strange-looking shrimp and vegetable tempura. It was like eating very crispy vegetable French fries. A bit odd for my palate but quite interesting just the same.
Ebi Ten Wasabi Mayo, definitely a must-have.
The Ebi Ten Wasabi Mayo, deep fried shrimp with wasabi sauce, was fresh, juicy and succulent. I highly recommend. But my favorite by far were the sushi rolls, and the tuna roll tops the list. Tender and juicy, it was probably the most succulent and tastiest tuna roll I had ever had. And that’s from someone who used to struggle eating ‘raw’ fish. For the main course, I would highly suggest trying the Tai Gohan, seasoned rice with grilled sea bream, served in a traditional pot. It was definitely lip-smacking. Crispy and tender, it had a piquant taste that left me craving for more. I wish I could have had more but it vanished quickly from our table. Everyone had a good bite of it. I would also recommend the Chicken Katsu Curry Rice. It too was also crispy, tender and truly scrumptious. But if there’s one thing that was truly noticeable about the food in Motomachi, every thing seemed so fresh. From the vegetables, to the fish and the meat, every ingredient seemed to have been made with the freshest ingredients.
Tai Gohan, so crispy and scrumptious.
Thoroughly enjoying our ladies’ night out.
By the time we were done with the smorgasbord of appetizers and main courses, I was almost wishing there’ll be no more dessert. But of course we had to try even though we were already stuffed. And I’m so glad we did. One look at the cake shop by the restaurant entrance and I already knew what I wanted – a slice of Japanese cheesecake. Not only did it look appetizing, it also turned out to be soft, fluffy, not too sweet and not bland either. Its sweetness was just perfect. The choux cream was also to die for. Best to taste with a cup of raw Japanese coffee, it was the perfect end to a truly exciting Japanese culinary journey at Motomachi. Excellent Japanese food, served by Japanese staffs in a Japanese-themed restaurant, you can’t get more authentic (Japanese) than that. Not only that, the price is also affordable. Ranging from AED75-100 per person when sharing, you can easily have your fill.
Motomachi’s Japanese cheesecakes are a definite must-try.
Good to know:
Location: Ground Floor, Dubai Festival City Mall
Restaurant Timings: 12 Noon to 10 PM
Restaurant capacity: 130 pax including the terrace
Best spot in the restaurant: At the terrace, facing the waterway to watch the light, water, fire & sound show at night
You can now order takeaways from the cake shop. Just call and pick them up. No delivery yet.
Look for Marks & Spencer parking. It’s the nearest to Motomachi.
Photo Credits: Big thanks to Mrs Marites Busser for letting me use her lovely photos.
Disclaimer: Although this post is sponsored, all words and opinions are mine.
Motomachi: The next best Japanese restaurant in town