Ramusake - Pub Grub, Japanese Style
Walk in through the door and you’re greeted by a darkened bar with red neon backlighting. A left turn brings you into a dining room that’s like a sleek modern version of a Japanese pub house. Ramusake at the DoubleTree Hotel in JBR claims Blade Runner as an inspiration for its aesthetic and it shows. I could picture an Asian sci-fi thriller being filmed here.
Ramusake is one of the latest restaurants to offer izakaya style dining, which essentially means that it’s a Japanese gastro pub. Servers dressed in relaxed but smart looking outfits whiz back and forth amidst low wooden tables (with cracks and weathering on the surface for a nice ‘lived in’ effect) while Japanese lanterns and painted murals adorn the dark walls. Ramusake certainly knows how to do atmosphere right, and I’m hopeful the food can live up to that.
Vegetarian sushi is to be expected, of course, but the Vegetarian Sushi Platter at Ramusake isn’t just an assortment of rolls; nigiri sushi (vegetable pieces on top of vinegared rice), adds a little variety. The rolls get an extra burst of flavor from a topping of goma sauce (a peanut based sauce), which is also a key ingredient in the Futo Maki. From the Healthy Options menu, there’s the Vegetable Garden, a medley of braised vegetables in a sumptuous truffle based dressing. Simple and clean flavors are a hallmark of all of these dishes.
The Japanese Caprese offers a delicious Asian spin on a classic Italian salad, with sliced tomatoes, a slab of tofu (prepared to the perfect texture so it’s like a less gooey mozzarella) and coriander pesto. As a fan of sweet potato, I find Ramusake’s Sweet Potato Salad to be a letdown. It would be just average, but the use of salted cucumber gives it an odd seaweed-like taste that I don’t really enjoy.
From the dumpling selection, there’s the wonderfully earthy Cheese and Truffle Gyoza, and Shiratama Dumplings, or rice flour dumplings similar to mochi, covered in a rich topping of parmesan and toasted cashews. I’m a little disappointed to see that there’s no vegetarian robata, as I’ve had that in other restaurants. The only main course option is Nasu Dengaku, or baked eggplant with miso, which is a lovely combination of smoky and sweet. We also have a side of Japanese sweetcorn, served on wooden skewers and Sweet Potato Fries. They help make up for the salad as they’re very addictive, especially with spicy jalapeño and kimchi dips.
One of the biggest surprises for me is the Kinoko Rice. It sounds like a decent rice dish with mushrooms, but ends up being a Japanese take on risotto. It’s served in a mini wok and is still bubbling as it arrives to the table. It’s rich and delicious, though perhaps a tad heavy.
We end the night with Ramusake’s Dessert Platter, which has a small sampling of their desserts, including Kinako (soybean flour) Donuts, Yuzu Curd Tart, Coconut Panna Cotta and Mochi (the platter usually comes with sorbet, but we ask for a substitution). All of the desserts taste as delicious as they look, without being too heavy or overly sweet. Surprisingly, the donut ends up being one of my favorites, with its light, crisp exterior and a filling of fruit jam.
Ramusake fuses traditional Japanese design with some futuristic touches to create a unique aesthetic that’s bound to be a crowd pleaser; I’d say it already is, judging by the packed room on a Sunday evening. The flavors are fantastic as well and worth the experience, though I’d love to see some vegetable robata dishes in the future.
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: ✔
Pros: Amazing atmosphere, friendly service, good flavors
Cons: Vegetarian robata dishes and more main course options would be great
Price: $$$ (200 - 500 AED)
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