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Dubai welcomes its first handroll sushi restaurant

Kokoro is located at Alserkal Avenue and is open daily from 12 to 11:30pm. (Supplied)
Kokoro is located at Alserkal Avenue and is open daily from 12 to 11:30pm. (Supplied)
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23 May 2024 10:05:44 GMT9
23 May 2024 10:05:44 GMT9

Manar Elbaz

DUBAI: Dubai has introduced its first handroll sushi restaurant at Alseral Avenue, where guests can engage with the chefs as they carefully prepare their delights while enjoying a relaxing atmosphere.

Kokoro was founded by Texas-based chefs Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee, who have more than 25 years of experience in Japanese cuisine.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the Japanese food culture, especially sushi, which requires constant learning and fine-tuning of technique,” said Pham. “The interactive nature of sushi spots, where chefs engage with guests and meet new people every day, is another aspect that drew me in.”

“What I love about Japanese cuisine is how it brings people together,” Lee told Arab News Japan. “It’s an engaging and interactive experience, which aligns with my passion for creating connections through food.”

Pham and Lee started working in Japanese cuisine separately in a variety of restaurants across the United States before joining forces to establish sushi restaurants in Huston, Texas.

“We realized that Dubai’s food scene could benefit from our unique take on sushi, so we decided to open Kokoro in this vibrant city,” the chefs told Arab News Japan.

Lee (L) and Pham (R) have 20 years of experience in Japanese cuisine. (Supplied)

The concept of the restaurant focuses on high-quality ingredients with a relaxed atmosphere. Guests sit around the chefs and observe them as they prepare the sushi; therefore, the restaurant is much smaller than regular restaurants and has limited seating.

“Unlike larger restaurants, Kokoro offers a unique blend of fine dining quality with a casual and welcoming vibe. We use premium ingredients, such as special nori sheets imported from Japan, which is a touch usually found in high-end dining,” said Lee.

“Another unique aspect of our nori is that we’re involved in its preparation, so it’s safe to say that our nori can’t be found anywhere else,” he added.

The chefs began preparing for the Dubai restaurant two years ago and chose Alserkal Avenue as their location as it has a vibrant and creative community. The smaller venue size also fits the restaurant’s concept.

“(the location) allows us to focus on creating a unique and enjoyable dining experience,” Lee told Arab News Japan. “Guests will find a welcoming environment where they can relax and enjoy exceptional food without the formalities of traditional fine dining. Kokoro is all about ‘serious food without a serious ambiance’”

The restaurant is preparing to add seasonal handrolls in the future, as well as more rotating nigiri selections from Japan’s Toyosu Fish Market. Additionally, the chefs plan to open more restaurants in the GCC region in the future.

Kokoro is open daily from 12 to 11:30pm, and does not require reservations. 

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