RIYADH: Tokyo restaurant, the first Japanese restaurant to open in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has hosted generations of Saudis that have enjoyed the authentic tastes of Japan with their families for over three decades.
Opening their doors in 1985 in the Orouba branch in Riyadh, Tokyo quickly became a staple for authentic Japanese cuisine and a generational favorite for many locals in the Kingdom.
Amal Albaiyoudh, a 59 year old Riyadh native remembers the first time she visited Tokyo in 1987. Albaiyoudh tells Arab News, “There are certain things in life that stick with you that you do not forget, visiting the restaurant for the first time so many years ago, tasting the different foods, seeing the red colors and interesting designs this was so different for me, I remember it to this day.”
“I didn’t go to many restaurants before but I distinctly remember this one because it was so new and different and the food was so delicious.”
What truly sets Tokyo apart from any other Japanese restaurant is the freshness, consistency, and quality of their sushi. Since opening over 35 years ago the restaurant has still maintained the same recipes and consistency, this is why generations have continued to bring their families to the restaurant.
Ohoud Aljabr, a 25 year old marketing and communications manager has been having dinner with her family in Tokyo for the past three years.
“Tokyo remains my favorite sushi restaurant no matter how many sushi restaurants have recently opened. I’ve been going with my friends and family for almost three years now and I still recommend it whenever someone wants to try sushi for the first time. The ambience reminds me of my sweet childhood when I used to create my own paper airplane and brings back great memories.”
When entering the restaurant guests are greeted with the dimmed lighting, steady and calming waterfall in the entrance, and classic music that captures the true essence of Japanese culture.
The staff are very welcoming and are well versed on the cuisine and the different dishes on the menu and can easily recommend what to try for guests that have not experienced Japanese food before.
“The ambience is truly inviting, quiet, yet very friendly and it’s a favorite choice for both locals and expats. Tokyo has unique varieties and knows how to be on top of the market by creating innovative dishes and exclusive boxes to fulfil customers’ needs,” Aljabr shared with Arab News.
Tokyo has two locations — both in Riyadh, the first is the Orouba branch in Al Sulaimania and the second branch is the Ghadeer location.
The Orouba branch recently went through a renovation and introduced many new additions to the experience of Tokyo such as a new tea bar that offers 5 authentic Japanese teas, 2 teppanyaki live cooking stations, a cocktail bar, and a private dining room for events.
We tried some of Tokyo’s famous dishes and we highly recommend starting off with a refreshing passion fruit mojito that packs a punch of fresh citrus that gives the meal a lively start, and then recommend moving into the appetizers with the classic miso soup and the crispy crab salad. The crispy crab salad comes with a mix of greens, tomatoes, corn, house made dressing and it’s covered with a crunchy pile of fried crab, this is a must try appetizer and is always a table favorite.
The Sultan Maki and Saad Maki are two exclusive signature rolls of the restaurant. Both rolls are equally as delicious and cannot be passed up when visiting Tokyo. The Saad Maki is a sweet potato, mint, and crab roll topped with fried shrimp coated in a special sauce. A combination that sounds like it would not pair well, and yet the individual ingredients equally complement each other to create one unique flavor.
The Sultan Maki roll on the other hand is a simple and classic presentation of the spicy salmon roll, the Sultan Maki is a salmon roll served with avocado and chili sauce topped with sesame seeds, it’s simple, flavorful and light.
For the main course we recommend ordering the Tokyo beef steak made with premium wagyu beef, served alongside honey and peanut sauce. In order to experience the lightness and tenderness of the wagyu, request it to be cooked no longer than medium to medium well. The meat paired with the new mushroom rice gohan and creamy truffle butter creates a combination of juicy and rich flavors that will leave guests coming back for more.
Tokyo is not only a family favorite for guests to visit, it’s also a family owned business, Tokyo is owned and managed by a family company called Foods Gate. The company is run by CEO Saad Aldrees and his brothers and has remained a family brand since the opening of Tokyo.
Foods gate shared with Arab News that they are in the process of training 21 Saudi chefs in the art of sushi making for the Tokyo restaurants.
The family values are rooted in Tokyo’s history and culture making it a family favorite and staple in the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.