Less than two months after opening, Akira Back at W The Palm Dubai has launched a Friday brunch concept cleverly titled ‘Back To Brunch.’ A relaxed and enchanting affair that makes an immediate mark on Dubai’s heavily saturated brunch scene.
Celebrity Chef Akira Back spent his early career as a professional snowboarder before moving into the culinary world where he has spent the last two decades racking up accolades (including the coveted Michelin Star) and opening fourteen restaurants around the globe. Akira Back Dubai is the latest in the portfolio and appears perfectly suited to the young and funky ethos of the W Hotel brand.
Access to Akira Back (and the adjacent SoBe) is via private elevator from the hotel lobby which by the way should not be missed with its gold trimmings and pulsating light fixtures. Transported to the fifth floor, the entrance to the restaurant is marked by a geometric vortex of LED lights which form a passageway transporting guests from the hotel space and into the confines of the restaurant.
Akira Back’s interiors ooze a sultry charm with pockets of darkness accentuated by sleek metal work and subdued lighting. A small bar area sits off to the left, while a show kitchen and raw buzz is abuzz with kinetic knife work from the chefs gathered within. Sinking into a comfortable booth clad in gold and cleverly resembling the strips of a tiger, we can’t help but appreciate not only the intimacy of the venue (which has wisely been kept small) but the skyline views. From our elevated position our field of vision covers many of Dubai’s touristic highlights, including the Ain Dubai, Burj Al Arab and towering Burj Khalifa.
Akira Back has the added advantage of a beautiful outdoor terrace that features a floating bar surrounded by calm reflection pools. It’s clear that a lot of time and effort have been placed into the design of the restaurant and this is only heightened by the high quality service on offer throughout. Menu knowledge is key and the staff appear to know the ingredients and cookery techniques inside out, are happy to offer recommendations and pre-empt guests needs without the need for intervention from the diner.
So what does brunch look like at Dubai’s latest celebrity chef fronted restaurant? Akira Back Dubai focuses on a fully plated table brunch of over 48 dishes! A menu of salads, sushi, robata grills and hot and cold appetisers is offered and dishes can be re-ordered in unlimited quantities, with the exception of main courses, from which you pick one. With many brunches around town providing a taster of what to expect in a bid to encourage diners back for a la carte service, Akira Back deviates from the norm by presenting much of the main menu as its brunch offering. Including many of the chefs signature dishes such as the AB Tacos and Tuna Pizza.
World class ingredients make Akira Back’s Japanese cuisine imbued with Korean essence an innovative addition to the Dubai dining scene. Each dish utilises seasonal produce and artisanal ingredients to present plates characterized by nuanced flavours and intricate presentation. The result is a wholly memorable dining experience.
Back’s Salmon Tiradito for example, presents thin slices of salmon sashimi atop chunks of grilled peach and finished with a marinade of yuzu and lemon. Creating an exciting dish of intense sweet and citrusy notes that mange to offset one another and harmonize the palate.
With each dish skillfully prepared it’s quite easy to be astounded by the ingenuity and sheer audacity of plates such as the Tuna Pizza.Offering a crisp base covered in thin slices of tuna that camouflage an umami aioli and white truffle oil concoction hidden beneath. It’s truly revelatory stuff and a textural delight, making it easy to see how this fusion of East and West has becomes Chef Back’s signature dish. Elsewhere, the Grilled Octopus is wonderfully tender and served with a trio of potato, salsa verde, and anticucho. Combine the mollusk with all three accompaniments and savor the experience of contrasting flavours that culminate into something altogether wonderful with each mouthful.
Simple dishes of Rock Shrimp and Leek Gyoza are elevated when subjected to the Akira Back treatment. As each section of the menu raising the bar even further, we’re entirely unprepared for the succulent Lamb Chops slathered in a smoked jalapeño marinade and the Scallop In Half Shell which utilizes kimchi and kochujang butter to startling effect. Leaving a wonderful taste profile but a somewhat pungent aroma for adventurous diners.
The six main courses include the Wagyu Don, Edamame Rissotto, Josper Grilled Salmon and Jidari Chicken. Yet we’re encouraged by our charming waiter to order the Black Cod which is deliciously sweet thanks to the miso marinade. A common staple of Asian restaurants in the region thanks in part to its popularity at Zuma, the dish remains a crowd pleaser and in this instance arrives with an interesting Yuja Sake foam. The sizzling Filet Tobanyaki is another strong choice, serving an almost hot-pot like dish of Black Angus beef, mixed mushrooms and Unami sauce.
Back To Brunch is undoubtably ambitious in scope and the sheer abundance of choice should be commended and there’s a distinct feeling of value for money, despite the high end price tag. Dishes arrive promptly and the staff are extremely attentive, despite the busy brunch service. Taking the time to build rapport with guests is a rarity in Dubai and something that does not go unnoticed.
While we would have preferred a more varied beverage selection (only two cocktails are currently included with this brunch) the standard of what is available is very high and its unfortunate that the room lacks a little atmosphere. With such dazzling decor and a jaw-dropping terrace we would like to see things kicked-up a notch to compete with the party atmosphere on the WetDeck Below. Sure this is a more sophisticated gastronomic affair, but a DJ would certainly help to elevate this brunch further.
We wind down with a selection of desserts and while we find the stodgy texture of the butter mochi is not for us, the intricately constructed Black and White Sesame Cake is certainly memorable. Constructed of distinct coloured layers, a sesame crust, a dusting of matcha and a salted agave ice cream. Our final dish of the day helps to cement our feelings towards this brunch as one to watch. An exciting spot to bring out of town guests of groups of friends. From the decor, to the view and the food, you will undoubtably leave impressed.
Location: W Dubai The Palm, West Crescent, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Social: Instagram / Facebook
Hours: 7pm – 12:30am
Phone: +971 04 245 5555
Out & About UAE were guests of Akira Back Dubai. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.
The Verdict: Akira Back
A brunch that’s unafraid to go big with the food selection, allowing diners full reign of the eclectic menu. The first of two Dubai openings from Chef Akira Back certainly sets the benchmark high.