World-renowned Japanese Restaurant Inakaya opened 2 yrs back in Venetian Village – at the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal along with Barfly, Brasserie Flo & Todd English’s Olives. New Yorkers and Tokyoites have already fell in love with this theatrical and traditional Japanese dining experience before Inakaya has made its debut in the UAE Capital.
It is an exciting addition to Abu Dhabi’s food scene. Inakaya, dubbed an interactive theatre, presents a distinctive dining experience called robatayaki – a Japanese grilling art that is as much a performance as it is a way of cooking. The style of cooking is a similar to teppanyaki only in a way that it’s performed in front of your eyes. However no iron plate and knife sounds here instead, all grilling.
Guests can enjoy myriad of culinary choices (and I literally meant it as I got confused seeing such a long food lineup varying from Chef’s Special, Robata, Sushi, Chu-bo etc). The chefs i-e yakikata (grill-masters) are a focal point of this art, passing main dishes directly to diners on 1.2 metre-long wooden paddles over the counter. They reached across to pick out the raw product required for your order from the fresh vegetables baskets placed infront of the guests.
Sanbon jime, a rhythmic clapping ‘thanking’ ceremony, concludes the meal in peace and harmony. We witnessed that day a special birthday wish for my daughter, she was literally surprised. Big thanks guys! Also if the timing is right, diners will also be able to participate in the mochi pounding ceremony – a New Year’s tradition that is a nightly occurrence at Inakaya. Unfortunately we didn’t get to experience it but as told the ceremony sees a lucky guest tasked with using a giant mortar-and-pestle to pound a large amount of hot, cooked sticky rice into a delicious sweet rice cake; celebrities, including Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, have previously taken part in the tradition at Inakaya Tokyo.
After being welcomed by enthusiastic restaurant manager and other staff in kimono and happi coat-style uniforms, we were seated in a quiet and cozy corner. The cubical has striking ceiling art decorated by 1000 plus suspended glass bottles nested along. It also feature a glass room on-looking grand canal with ample of sitting space. This simple & serene rectangular space is ideal for group reservations. Each corner displays contemporary décor along with traditional celebrated props (Hanging paper ribbons, life size sculptures).
From Pre-starter i-e Chu-Bo (hot dishes) we tastes boiled soy beans sprinkled with sea salt and spicy miso sauce (commonly known as edamame). The spicy sauce was tangy and sour, we dint stop till we finished all. Rest of the food didn’t come on table in a particular order, and that’s normal with grill cooking method (robata). It is served as and when ready. The staff cheerfully hollered in their native tongue once the item is ready, of course we had Mr. Manager who decipher it to us. My kids were loving that act (which is more of a way of communicating in their manner). It was not disturbing as it’s mostly choir, short and timely.
We sampled Spicy shrimp tempura maki, genius twist with apt fusion. Shallot flakes with spicy mayo on top made it luscious and crispy at the same time, it was a perfect deep fried version of sushi. Sitting next to it Salmon maki was a treat to eyes. With crab meat, avo & cucumber roll this has each bit of combination. Its topped with salmon and the star topping of apple sauce with salman roe. We devour each piece along with sliced white onion and wasabi to give essential kick.
Luckily I tasted what are mini surprises of the whole meal in my opinion. Yaki Avocado perfectly grilled with a wooden spoon to scoop off the entire pulp. Belive you won’t leave a tiny bit as it tasted magical with Tare & Tamago sauce. Foiled mushrooms with three grilled variety drenched in soy butter sauce. It’s practically hard to resist soon after the foil is ruptured, yay, were perfect to start off.
As above 2 robata dishes were “tapas” sized, we were advised by Manager to go large, chunky fillet of Teriyaki Black cod arrived. It was a sight to behold, as meaty white flesh was well marinated in soy caramelized with Japanese pepper(sancho) and tare sauce. I found it quite impressive in quality focusing on fresh ingredients and daily catch. The “Tsukune” skewers of natural free corn-fed chicken were a tap tough though. It’s a good choice for those fussy little diners.
We opted for a crunchy Deep fried Giant Shrimp Tempura tossed with sweet wasabi mayo sauce, that was colorful and fresh. Sushi, Robata & Tempura varieties has given us a real dose of Inakaya flair. Though satiated but impressed by whole line-up of food, we dint give up yet. Hence decided ending our dinner on a sweet touch with chocolate fondant. It’s their take on fondant and I must say a very pleasant one, it’s a whole heap of fun.
I must mention about their colorful, refreshing and energy stirring mocktails. We enjoyed few of their signature mocktails, its so hard to choose the best one amongst them. however Inakaya fusion & Kimono Passion were our favourites. With refreshing apple indulgence and a dash of cinnamon added to this eccentric flavor for Inakaya fusion. You will get a hint of rose aroma & flavor too.
While Kimono passion on the other hand has exotic offering ofpassion fruit, orange & lemon citron with a hint of lemongrass. we loved the presentation of food overall at this restaurant, it reflects in each course as well as in the surroundings.
It was a novelty to indulge in a new concept of alfresco dining in a picturesque setting and to enjoy a dab of entertainment while we devour scrumptious & beautifully presented Japanese food. It will be a pleasure to visit such lively place again.
“Great food served in Zen & tranquil ambiance with perfect manners of service makes Inakaya ideal spot for Japanese cuisine lovers.”
Best seats in the house is an open counter don’t forget to book! Inakaya seats 110 people and is open daily from 6:30pm to 11pm. For reservations, call 02 404 1921.
All opinion & pics used are our own except 2 photos provided from the client pages.