Mikado Cafe

Chirashi+Mikado

For me, eating at a Japanese restaurant is like devouring an art canvas. I approach it with hesitation because who really wants to muck up something so beautiful? I feel like saying, ‘Let’s just shellac this and make it a centerpiece and then go eat something less attractive.’

Mikado Cafe is a cute little place tucked away in the Al Hana Center, Al Khalidiya near the Corniche. And it’s a nice change from hotel restaurants (not that there’s anything wrong with a fancy hotel meal) but Mikado’s is neighborhood dining at its best in the trendy Al Hana Center restaurant district. 

One very good reason to go there? The Japanese eat there. When my Japanese friend heard I was going to the opening she said, “Ahhh, I heard it is very good. The Japanese people eat there.” Enough said. Mikado has my vote.

Before I go into all of the mouth-watering food at Mikado, I first want to say how incredibly friendly and helpful the Mikado staff was in describing the menu items and their ingredients. In Abu Dhabi we are accustomed to friendly service, but Mikado Cafe’s wait staff was exceptional. So much so that I tipped big. They anticipated my needs and my questions; and then they accommodated. The management should be exceptionally proud of their team.

Upon entering Mikado I was a little confused because in the lobby is a full Japanese bakery. I have never visited Japan so I have no idea if Japanese bakeries are common but Mikdao Cafe is different. It bakes 15 different types of bread daily and also serves breakfast food such as traditional waffles, pancakes….and can I say, peanut butter marshmallow toast. Yes, I said it! All of this yumminess,  along with traditional Japanese breakfast food, will have the people lining up. And for a city that is a little lacking in breakfast cafes this is a wonderful addition. Mikado Cafe’s Japanese head chef Fabio Nakazato – says the cafe offers something new to Abu Dhabi. “This is Japanese comfort food,” he says. “Other places, they try to be more fancy – but here, we try to keep it simple. That’s our ­difference.” Breakfast along with the new concept of comfort food from Japan — I see this as a win-win.

After we were seated in our booth the parade of food began. It was a steady stream which included many of the popular menu items. First, I should say, that due to health reasons, I do not eat raw meats, but I was looking forward to an excellent vegetarian roll and wish the menu for vegetarian sushi was a little more extensive. Aside from that small issue, the food was delish! I can eat edamame like it is popcorn. And they served three different seasonings. The menu is extensive and offers a new spin on traditional Japanese as we have known in the past. As chef Nakazato says, “It’s comfort food” and I felt extremely comfortable just sitting there eating the parade of food that was brought to our table.

After we finished with the soup, the starters, the salad, the main course etc. one would think that it pretty much ends there — but it doesn’t. There were the most incredible Japanese desserts that you will not want to skip because they are light, delicious, and unique. At the onset of this carnival of comfort food I was beginning to feel a little guilty for falling off the diet wagon, but as it turns out I do not feel the Japanese comfort food was a major blow to the calorie counting. I may be wrong of course, and if I am, I prefer to continue to live in my fantasy world, but I feel that I was able to eat at Mikado’s Cafe without a major guilt trip. Maybe it was that super cute little iron tea kettle that cheered me up.

So I can’t really go into all of the incredible dishes in the same professional dialogue of a “true” food critic and I am sorry my husband’s hairy hand is in the pick with the bread pudding (which by the way, I gobbled up), but this is what I will tell you — it was all very good. And I want you to give it a try because anything I like — I want others to experience as well. So go to Mikado’s and say hello to all of the super friendly staff. And while you are there grab some of that super thick bread at the bakery and make a monster Manwich at home.

Take a look at the Mikado Cafe menu here. Compliments of Zomato.

Mikado Cafe plans to deliver in the coming months. Hours are from 8am to 11pm Saturday — Wednesday, and 8am to 11.30pm Thursdays and Fridays. Located in the Al Hana tower in Khalidiya, near La Brioche.  Follow them on Instagram @mikadocafe or call 02 667 7557

Thank you to The National for the use of some of their photos.

As always, these views are my own and I would not steer you to a place I do not like. You can trust me 🙂

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