There are plenty of high-end Japanese restaurants in Dubai, and many of them serve excellent food. Nevertheless, Ramusake, brought to Dubai by the same group that runs Copper Dog and Mahiki, has found a niche for itself in this crowded space.
Primarily because it feels a little more edgy, albeit in the high-end Dubai sense of the word, than its rivals. This impression begins with the entrance, in the corner of the DoubleTree by Hilton carpark, which removes that all-too familiar feeling of trudging through an overly bright hotel lobby to access a supposedly 'cool' F&B outlet.
Inside, the walls are decorated with graffiti art, the lighting is low and the dresscode of the partons veers much more to the causual end of smart. But this relaxed, almost grungy vibe, is nicely juxtaposed by the view over the beach and JBR wheel, and that terrace will be a fabulous place to sit in the cooler months. ‘Edgy’ with beach views – what’s not to love?
As a final note on the atmosphere, the music is well thought out and not try-too-hard. Perhaps we’re showing our age here but, on our visit - a weekend night - the DJ shows admirable restraint and doesn’t steadily crank up the volume until you can’t hear your dining partner speak. That's a big plus for this particular reviewer.
The menu isn’t overly complicated and is easy to navigate. It’s hard to pick standout dishes because the food is consistent across the board. The side sauce dishes are all excellent, and may well inform your choices. For example, the chilli oil and ponzu that comes with the chicken and ginger gyoza; the vegan cashew ricotta that comes with the watermelon cerviche or the cucumber unagi sauce with the foie gra and bbq eel... these all help liven dishes that are already very strong.
For mains we keep things simple with the miso black cod – accompanied by an excellent hijiki and apple salad - and the wagyu striploin, which comes with tarragon and mustard miso and yuzu kosho mash. Once again it's these creative sides that support the mains and give them an inventive twist – made all the better when washed down with a pitcher of peach ice tea sangria. It’s these details that give Ramusake that vital twist on the more straightlaced high-end concept.
Taken together with the other excellent venues at Hilton Doubletree – not least the neighbouring Copper Dog – this is an excellent dining destination that demands repeated visits for an unstuffy vibe, inventive food and classic JBR views.
The Esquire Middle East 50 Best Restaurants list will be released in November 2017. The list ranks the best restaurants in the Gulf region, and is compiled by a trusted panel of experts. Keep reading EsquireME.com for more reviews, with the final positions announced on November 1.