Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dubai Restaurant Review: Haru Robatayaki, Green Community

In a nutshell: great Japanese food in a casual setting with reasonable prices.

Haru Robatayaki has 2 restaurants in Dubai; one in Green Community and one in Rimal, JBR. The Green Community one is just a few minutes walk from my apartment and I probably eat there (or order home delivery) at least once a month. I love it! So why have I only given it a 4/5? Sadly the restaurants around the Green Community lake have not been built with proper ventilation so if you go to Haru's on a busy night when the teppanyaki grill is in full swing then you will leave smelling of oil and food. Not very pleasant. With temperatures falling, eating outside is now an option but the small lake outside does sometimes smell a little less than fresh. Through no fault of Haru's I therefore can't give the restaurant itself 5/5 although the food is definitely right up there and hopefully the JBR branch has the right ventilation so that one could be a full 5/5.

I went there for lunch with a friend and we were able to sit inside with no issues since there was no teppanyaki cooking going on. As the name suggests, Haru's key offering is robatayaki (grilled over an open flame - kind of like a BBQ) but they also have teppanyaki (stir-fried on a hot plate), teriyaki (grilled in sweet soy sauce), tempura (deep fried in a light crispy batter) and sushi. You can choose to sit around the teppanyaki grill, at a regular table or outside. At lunchtime, they also offer a selection of Bento boxes and that is what we both went for since for AED 50 you get miso soup to start and then your box with (in my case) grilled salmon, rice (choice of fried, steamed or noodles instead of rice), stir fried vegetables and fruit for dessert. In addition to that, we were given a free amuse-bouche of a tiny tuna burger on top of a cabbage salad (the amuse-bouche changes every day and I've never had the same thing twice). It was all delicious but I made the mistake of also ordering edamame (steamed soya beans) and I was so full by the end of the meal that I almost had to be rolled out!

If you don't go for a bento box then the dishes are almost tapas-style so you can order a selection, although 2 per person would be more than enough for most of us. The best squid I have ever eaten has been at Haru's as they somehow manage to cook it in a way that does not leave it chewy and tough - how do they make it so tender? Another favourite of mine is the chicken wrapped around asparagus spears...yum yum yum. The beauty is that by ordering the small plates you can try all the different cooking styles by ordering a robatayaki dish, tempura dish, teppanyaki dish etc. Each plate costs around AED 20-25 and if you had a starter then you could easily manage with just one dish plus vegetables and rice, making a very reasonable meal out.

The staff are all very friendly although I think they must get a bit bored since it appears that most of Haru's business is home delivery (it seems to be the same situation with all the restaurants around the lake). It would be even better if Haru's was licensed and you could enjoy some sake with your dinner but unfortunately none of the lake-side restaurants are licensed. Rumours abound since the intention was clearly for them to be licensed when they were built - there was initially a Fibber's pub here but it closed down (funny that!) and there's a Mexican restaurant with a (virgin) marguerita bar. The area would be buzzing if the licensing issue could be sorted out, but instead it's all a bit of a ghost town.

One point to note is that the Green Community branch phone isn't currently working so if you want to order home delivery, call the mobile 055 981 6266.


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