In Dubai, where everything seems to be newly opened and eateries come and go as quickly as cars along Sheikh Zayed Road, more surprising than yet another launch is the celebration of longevity in the local restaurant business. Twenty-five years of it in the case of Miyako. Opening in 1987 in Deira, Miyako set the tone for an authentic experience by staffing the restaurant with Japanese chefs and waitresses. Restaurant manager, Beth Ramos has been there from the beginning and over the past two and a half decades she’s seen her share of high-profile VIPs enter through the eatery’s heavy wooden doors. She explains that consistent quality of both the food and service means that much of Miyako’s clientele is made up of diners that keep coming back, whether they’re frequent travellers to Dubai or residents.
As we sit in Miyako’s contemporary, Japanese-style private teppanyaki room there is an undeniable sense of intimacy in the eating experience. It feels like the staff are there to focus solely on you and not a restaurant full of patrons. Service is tailored to personal preference and the knowledgeable staff make informed suggestions on what to eat. Beth, who is fascinated with the art of Japanese cuisine and loves cooking it herself, says that she starts unaccustomed diners off with cooked dishes before moving on to raw ingredients and more adventurous dishes.
When it comes to risky eating, Miyako’s first chef was the only pro in town to have a license to serve fugu (a type of blowfish), which, if prepared incorrectly, is lethal due to high levels of tetrodotoxin in its ovaries, liver and skin. I’m not sure I’d take my life in my hands (or chopsticks) for a bit of fish, but it’s highly sought after the world over and commands hefty sums in specialist restaurants. Beth recounts a story of Miyako’s chef heading to the nearby fish market back in the Eighties to find blowfish freely for sale. In a mix of Japanese, broken English – and probably a lot of choking noises and finger-slashing-across-throat gestures, the chef managed to convince the vendor that his offering was dangerous business. Thankfully, the only danger during my dining experience at Miyako is the threat of over-eating.
INFO: Miyako, Hyatt Regency Dubai, 04 317 2222, www.dubai.regency.hyatt.com.