The high-end Japanese restaurant scene is a crowded market, which makes it great for customers but hard for restaurants to stand out. Okku is very much in that top tier and works extremely hard to stay there.
The very tall (and, let’s be honest, glamorous) female staff on the door are genuinely welcoming. The barman mixes an excellent Manhattan (his secret: the zest of the orange peel rather than the juice itself). The high-end sound system pumps out music that maintains an atmosphere without becoming obtrusive. The sommelier navigates through both the wine and sake lists with consummate ease. Nothing is out of place here.
But of course this all counts for little if the food is anything less than magnificent. Okku makes sure that dining still take centre stage, as demonstrated by the tasting menu. From the duck salad though the seared scallops and fabulous tuna tartare, you move to a black cod and two whole baked King crab legs, that only 36 hours ago were bobbing around in Alaskan waters. You’ll then move through to a delicate seabass and papaya and a more arresting slab of wagyu, more crab and prawn tempura, before cleansing the palate with a green tea soufflé and chocolate fondant. At the risk of overusing superlatives this is a standout meal and a testament to the vibrant, competitive, lavish and ultimately brilliant food scene in Dubai.