By Thomas Shambler
Downtown Dubai is no stranger to posh eateries. But does Toko do enough to stand out from the crowd?
Toko opened a few years ago, offering high-end Japanese cuisine, not unlike two others famous restaurants with four letter names. Since then, it's been refurbished.
The revamp gives the restaurant a more laid-back appeal, and the kitchen now serves pan-Asian dishes (rather than simply Japanese).
Given that Toko is far more than just an eatery (there's a huge garden area and a busy bar at the weekends), the updated concept fits the restaurant well.
The new menu moves away from the traditional and into the modern. While many foodies abhor the term 'Asian fusion', here it's done well.
The business lunch menu gives you three courses to choose from, followed by green tea. Rock shrimp tempura is served alongside a silky tofu broth for starters, and mains include the likes of smoked miso salmon and prime rib eye with wafu sauce.
As with most Japanese restaurants, there's more than enough on the menu to satiate vegetarians.
Don't expect silver service, but do expect it to come with a smile. It's clichéd, but the staff seem to genuinely enjoy explaining the menu, going beyond just memorising the descriptions. Food comes out quick – as it should with any business lunch – and there was just enough on each plate to warrant the full three courses. The restaurant was sparsely occupied during lunch, but that's sure to change once word of its excellent garden area (there are two, but the one in the back set away from the road is far superior) spreads.