Reviewed by Giorgia Guantario.
What’s it like?
One of the newest additions to well-renowned Soho Garden, Tokyo Vibes is exactly what you’d expect from its name – a vibrant, modern and trendy restaurant capturing the essence of the Japanese capital.
As a staff member takes us to our table, we walk through the different areas of the venue, including the conservatory-style Glasshouse brasserie and the tropical Tiki Bar, before reaching the area dedicated to the Japanese eatery located in the club’s far back corner. Here, Soho Garden’s dancefloor gives way to sturdy wooden tables and Asian-styled murals adorning the walls.
While the air resounds with upbeat, yet not overbearing, house music, we sit down in one of the comfy booths, facing the main bar area on one side and the traditional-looking Sushi bar on the other.
What are the food highlights?
At a first glance, Tokyo Vibes’ menu may seem to feature the usual Japanese-inspired specialties, but as we delve into it, it’s clear the chef has given their own twist to each dish with flavoursome sauces and interesting food combinations.
To start off, we enjoy an array of mouthwatering starters, ranging from classic Japanese specialties such as chicken gyoza, served with kabayaki sauce and cabbage, to more sophisticated dishes like the salmon carpaccio in truffle ponzu sauce. The wagyu beef skewers are a must-try. The tender meat is perfectly counterbalanced by the sweetness of the pear and soy sauce, and we are left wishing there were more than two on the plate.
Although slightly skeptical to find pizza in a Japanese restaurant, I must admit the tuna pizza is one of my favourite starters on the menu. Tomato relish, teriyaki sauce, and spicy mayo accompany slivers of tuna sashimi on a light and crispy rice base, sliced up to make it the perfect starter to share amongst friends while sipping on one of the restaurant’s unique cocktails. We are also pleasantly surprised to find locally sourced oysters on Glasshouse’s menu, Tokyo Vibes’ sister restaurant. The oysters are just as good as their European counterparts and will certainly whet the appetite of any seafood-lover with their silky texture and their vibrant accompanying dressing.
Eager to try the sushi, we are thrilled when our waiter places a stunning platter of maki rolls and sashimi in front of us for our next course. The California, Philadelphia and spicy tuna rolls frame a selection of yellowfin tuna, salmon, eel and Hokkaido scallop sashimi. Out of the three rolls, we find the spicy tuna to be the most interesting. The roll is adequately spicy and features unusual, yet pleasant additions such as the asparagus. On the other hand, the cream cheese on top of the Philadelphia roll sadly dominates the dish, over-powering much of the salmon’s flavour.
The sashimi is faultless and flavourful in all its simplicity. The Hokkaido scallops are the highlight of the selection – slightly firm but tender, the scallop melts in our mouth unleashing the typical sweetness you would expect from this high-quality product.
For our main course, we opt for Tokyo Vibes’ miso black cod. Served on a bed of grilled asparagus and topped with deep fried leek and hajikami (pink pickled ginger typically paired with fish), the fish by far the star of the evening. It’s light, perfectly cooked and utterly delicious. For the meat-lovers, the wagyu beef striploin is a good alternative to the cod, though a little less exciting in my opinion.
We finish off with the yuzu cheesecake and assorted mochi ice cream. The cheesecake with lime sorbet is pleasantly refreshing, but as a huge fan of sesame and green tea, the mochi ice cream’s traditional flavours and typical gooey texture are my favourites.
How was the service?
The staff at Tokyo Vibes are attentive and always on hand. From the second we sat down to the moment we got up, they went above and beyond to make sure we enjoyed our evening and that the food and drinks were to our liking.
The bottom line:
Tokyo Vibes offers the perfect balance between traditional and modern Asian specialties. Its unique food offering makes it a great weekend spot for a classy dinner with friends, while the upbeat house and commercial music, neon lights and exquisite Japanese-inspired drinks will make you want to stay for a stylish night out.
Details: Visit tokyovibesdxb.com for more information.