Arab News Japan
Japanese restaurant KOBEYa, which caters to customers in the UAE that are gluten free or prefer healthy options with special dietary requirements, has expanded its operations by opening a second location at Marina Gate in Dubai Marina.
The grand opening of the restaurant on Friday was inaugurated by Leiko H, Founding Member that conceived the idea of KOBEYa and Saeed Al Malik, the CEO of the UAE-based distribution company Middle East Fuji Group, which the restaurant falls under.
Speaking to Arab News Japan, Leiko H. said that the decision to open a second location stemmed from the desire to make gluten-free restaurants more available in the country and due to the attainment of multiple requests from the public.
“In Al Wasl, we had many customers from a variety of nationalities that came from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah Ras Al Khaimah, the majority of which were of Arab origin. Many customers who live in Marina have requested that we open a branch in this location. We also know that Marina has a large number of expatriates and we wanted to gain recognition amongst different communities in the UAE,” she said.
“The opening of the Marina branch has made many of the customers happy, and the restaurant has been packed since its openinig. This branch differs from the one in Al Wasl as it showcases views of the Dubai Harbor and marina skyline,” she added.
The presence of gluten in common ingredients, such as soy sauce, vegetable starch, vinegars and salad dressings have often denied people who avoid gluten from the pleasures of dining out, because they are sensitive to it or have celiac disease. While some restaurants have expanded their menus to include gluten-free options, KOBEYa takes pride in offering an exclusively gluten-free menu with over 50 vegetarian, vegan, non-vegetarian and lactose free varieties that includes specially designed burgers with Japanese Kobe beef, meat free Tofu burgers, Asian stir fry and desserts, among others.
“Middle East Fuji Group imports ingredients such as Kobe beef and Wagyu beef straight from Japan. We also deal directly with farmers from Niigata in Japan who provide our supply of rice. This ensures that we have high-quality ingredients,” Leiko H. said.
In line with the restaurant’s vision, KOBEYa contributed to a project for fifth graders at the Dubai Japanese School where students learned about the culinary traditions of people in the UAE and were introduced to the concept of “Halal” food, which relates to food products that adhere to Islamic law.
The project required students to think of ways that Japanese food could be introduced into the UAE market through the provision of recipes incorporating food from both regions. KOBEYa then had cooking and tasting trials with the students and developed a menu that included the suggestions and recipes that they provided.
“The project focused on learning about food and culture, which helps in understanding how people live because food often relates to different aspects such as traditions, weather, geography and even history. The aim was to get students thinking about how they could introduce Japanese food into the market,” Leiko H. said.
A popular proposition amongst students was the creation of bento boxes, which include a multicompartment box that is divided into sections for holding individual portions of food that helps create a well-balanced, nutritious meal that could include all necessary food groups, according to Leiko H.
The students selected chicken karaage marinated with umeboshi as the main meal and KOBEYa’s Niigata rice on the side.
The Bento boxes were called “DJS Bento Box” and were sold during a promotional period. The boxes proved to be a success and attained positive feedback from customers, which promoted KOBEYa to introduce the boxes as a permanent product in the restaurant.
In addition to the project, KOBEYa also offers cooking classes on creating healthy lunch boxes for children and sells gluten, dairy, lactose, and nut-free food products as well as fruits and healthy products from Japan, Thailand, the Far East and Europe.
The inclusion of student-centric projects within the restaurant’s diverse offerings reinforces KOBEYa’s vision to promotehealthy gluten-free meals not only for people that have special dietary requirements, but also for those with the desire to choose healthier options, while simultaneously providing people with an unrivaled selection that allows them to fully induldge in their dining experience.