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Toilet roll or cake? Dubai-based chef shows off pandemic-inspired dessert

The Reif Roll is inspired by the panic buying that occurred in countries such as the US and Japan at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Twitter/@refaiekee)
The Reif Roll is inspired by the panic buying that occurred in countries such as the US and Japan at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Twitter/@refaiekee)
People shop near empty food shelves at a supermarket in Tokyo in April 6, 2020. (AFP)
People shop near empty food shelves at a supermarket in Tokyo in April 6, 2020. (AFP)
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31 Jul 2020 06:07:18 GMT9
31 Jul 2020 06:07:18 GMT9

Diana Farah Dubai

Award-winning Singaporean chef Reif Othman opened a pop-up counter serving cakes and chirashi bowls in May and plans to open his own store, Reif Japanese Kushiyaki, at the Depachika Food Hall in Dubai.

His current cake pop-up counter features a toilet roll cake known as the Reif Roll, which is inspired by the panic buying that occurred in mainly the US at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cake is made of lemon butter sponge with a citrussy yuzu fruit ganache.

Read more about the toilet paper panic in Japan here

The counter menu boasts 13 desserts, with the chef’s own Japanese spin on comfort cakes. Savoury Chirashi bowls are also served with a base of quinoa or brown rice topped with sashimi-style protein.

Speaking to Arab News Japan, Reif said he had worked in Dubai since 2004, with his most recent venture being Reif Japanese Kushiyaki, his very own restaurant in the UAE.

“I think in Dubai we are missing mid-tier restaurants, there is the expensive quality and the cheap,” he said. “But we are missing the element of the mid-tier where we can buy good food, have value for money and consistency, that’s where I come in.”

Reif said he was not specifically trained in Japanese cuisine, however, running the kitchen at contemporary Japanese restaurant Zuma Dubai helped him experiment with Japanese ingredients and taught him more about the delicate cuisine.

“We played around a lot with Japanese ingredients that’s where Zuma came, where I got more involved with noodles. We as chefs learn more as the days go by,” he said.

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