Amin Abbas Dubai
Authentic Japanese food in the UAE can be found at an Abu Dhabi-based restaurant, Samurai Restaurant, which has been serving customers for 15 years.
Founded by Farag Barakat in 2005, Samurai Restaurant introduces Japanese cuisine to the UAE, especially Japanese barbecue known as Yakiniku.
Barakat told Arab News Japan the restaurant already has three branches in Abu Dhabi, with a fourth one opening soon, as well as a branch opening in the near future in Dubai.
“When I decided to open Samurai, the most difficult thing was finding the chef because the Japanese food was not so popular in Arab countries and it was so hard to find a Japanese chef locally and usually good chefs never leave Japan,” Barakat said. “That’s why I decided to go to Thailand, as I heard that there are a lot of Japanese food chefs there.”
Barakat explained that when he first opened the restaurant, he wanted it to be “family-oriented and affordable without any compromise in quality.”
He said he noticed most Japanese restaurants were “too expensive” for casual dining and were usually located in hotels.
“Samurai was the first Japanese restaurant that opened outside of hotels and the first restaurant to start the Japanese food delivery in Abu Dhabi,” he added.
Barakat said that many people were hesitant at first to try sushi, since it was raw fish.
“But step-by-step, they tried it and they became sushi lovers. They started inviting their friends to dine with them and the word of mouth began,” he said. “People who are not able to eat raw sushi have a choice of having cooked sushi or a wide range of Japanese dishes like tempura shrimp and yakiniku.”
Barakat told Arab News Japan Samurai Restaurant has the best authentic Japanese food in the UAE’s capital, because of their “attention to detail with the quality of food.”