I did something unusual today (for Ramadan). I broke free from the ubiquitous Iftar tents that revolve around Arabesque cuisine (with a bit of Indian, if you’re lucky), and instead accepted an invite to try out the Summer Sunset menu at Katana in Downtown Dubai. Katana is a new import from L.A, a trendy addition to Dubai’s ever-bustling food scene. This is just what my drowning-in-harees-and-hommus soul needed. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good mezze; but my tastebuds were dying. They were crying out loud to be revived and needed an electrical jolt of flavors. When they heard the word Japanese, they sat up straight, and I owed this to them. I’ve got your back, tastebuds. I’ve got your back.
Being the uninformed newb I am, I didn’t realize that Katana is underneath The Address Downtown, and not part of the hotel itself. It wasn’t until we pulled up at the security post leading to the hotel entrance that we realized the hotel is still closed (post the New Year’s Eve tragedy), and we have to park at Souq Al Bahar for the closest access to Katana. Great; I now had to walk – in heels. After a quick fountain show on the way and swift reminder of why I love Dubai so much, we arrived at the venue to a very warm welcome.
Our evening commenced with us being ushered to the bar for some mocktails – both included in the Summer Sunset menu, both buttermilk and banana based (bummer), and then were shown our table on which course after course began to arrive at the perfect timing, without us having to wait at all or have an overcrowded table. Our table also had the most breathtaking, unobstructed view of the magnificent Burj Khalifa, and if only the weather was little forgiving, I would have sat myself outside on their terrace.
Here’s what we had:
- Edamame: was generously seasoned with sea salt and thankfully it was WARM. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had cold, watery, under-seasoned edamame…..I’d probably have 20 dollars by now.
- Salmon Carpaccio: Ok I know, Carpaccio isn’t Japanese, nor is the feta cheese that was crumbled on top, but raw fish makes me so, so happy, ok? And this was a REALLY good carpaccio. I hated having to share this.
- Garden Salad: HOW is it that Asian salad dressings are so GOOD? I think it’s because of the soy vinaigrette. I hated having to share this too, so I just placed the whole bowl in front of me and ate it all while Judy and M were busy debating world peace or global warming (don’t know, don’t care, time stopped when I was with this salad of mine). The greens were ever so lightly tossed in a thick, extremely umami dressing that hit just the right notes of sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Yum.
- Robata Skewers: I loved the Negima (chicken & green onion) skewer the best; it was moist, juicy, tender and packed the most flavor. My excitement for the aspupara skewer fizzled as soon as I tried them, because no grilled asparagus has ever been able to live up to the kind I had at Wakame. The Ebi skewer, which had 3 tarragon butter marinated prawns could have done better. The prawns were juicy and perfectly cooked but lacked oomph in flavors, and I also don’t understand how two people should share 3 prawns. Way to test a man’s chivalry on the first date; if he gives up the last prawn for you, he’s a keeper.
- Vegetable Tempura: An assortment of sweet potato, mushrooms, egg plant and kale, this plate of crispy batter-fried vegetables was light, fresh out of the hot oil, and oh-so-delicious.
- Ebi Japaneo Maki: LOVED this, couldn’t get enough of it. It’s not common to find japalenos in a sushi or maki roll but this tastes so fresh and worked perfectly.
- Spicy Tuna Sushi: I’m REALLY big on spicy food, ask anyone who has ever read a single one of my blogposts or carried a 5-minute conversation with me. I am also a huge fan of raw fish. This abomination of a roll however, was a completely disrespectful waste of what I imagine was once beautiful tuna. I’m not even kidding when I say it reminded me of the spicy mashed potato mix that’s used to make Indian/Pakistani stuffed parathas or potato cutlets known as Aloo Tikkis. I’m so sorry, Dear Tuna, for you had to die only to be over-spiced and end up in a disappointing roll. I imagine that the chef might have been going for a Tuna Tataki inspired roll, but this was unfortunately a failed execution. I wish you ended up in a tartare, instead.
- Yakiniku: Short ribs in Asian marinade. I know, “Asian” is a broad term, but that’s exactly how it was described in the menu. These were sweet, sticky, tender, buttery, and sheer, utter bliss. They brought the house down, ok? It is ridiculous how succulent and umami these were (please excuse the overuse of “umami” but that’s just how good the food was)
- Mixed Cha-Han: simply put, fried rice. I liked this. It was kind of bland, but I think that it complemented the short ribs in contrast. I enjoyed alternating bites of the rice with the short ribs.
- Igen Itame: Green beans sautéed with garlic. These were too bland in my opinion, and sadly a little cold too. I would have liked to see a lot more fried garlic on these, or a drizzle of truffle oil, perhaps.
- Mango, Apple and Banana Harumaki: I loved, loved, loved the sweet, refreshing, tart filling, hated the coating. I don’t like churros or the fact that they’re dipped in grainy sugar, and these were very similar. I ended up digging out all the filling and eating just that.
- Home churned icecream and sorbets: We tried the lime sorbet which was insanely sour. The coconut ice-cream was OK, but the chocolate ice-cream was amazing. The chocolate ice-cream was rich, creamy, and indulgent.
Overall, it was an extremely enjoyable meal. I would have appreciated the option of a non-dairy mocktail (but they do offer a variety of fresh juices and soft beverages); and chopsticks that weren’t disposable/made from questionable wood; but other than that I loved the food, the vibes and the service was excellent. The summer menu is meant to be shared between two people, at the price of AED 180/pax; and will be served till the end of August. The manager also highly recommends the “Omakase”, which means you trust the chef and let him surprise you with a hand crafted menu bound to impress. Trying to guess what I’m putting in my mouth is right up my alley, so I’ll most definitely be going back for that, and for shisha in better weather 🙂
I highly recommend this place, especially to all the Zuma lovers who need to get over a time honored concept and try a place that’s new to Dubai but is globally older.
Thanks so much for having me, Katana!