The element that draws me into a movie or TV show, apart from the storyline, is the food they consume. After weeks of binge-watching Korean dramas, my cravings for bibimbap heightened, bringing me to the newly-launched ONI at Shangri-La Dubai
The Japanese-inspired menu comprises street-style Asian dishes, with everything from sushi and sashimi, to ramen, rice bowls, robatta grills, and noodles. Most diners may recognise the venue – they have taken over Junoon – however the décor has undergone a makeover to reveal an intimate, ambient space with the only colours being hues of red and grey, to brighten the black surfaces. We headed for the cocktail lounge – the venue has two bars, the other serving sake specialties – to sip on carefully curated cocktails by the restaurant’s 21-year old mixologist. Try the Sakura for a refreshing strawberry concoction that tastes similar to an antioxidant-packed smoothie.We highly recommend starting the meal with truffle tuna tacos in a citrus dressing. Each crisp bite of the rice taco shell reveals chunky juicy pieces of fresh tuna with avocado. Follow this with the beautifully presented hamachi crudo, comprising yellowtail, wasabi salsa and yuzupon foam. The sliced fish, flown in from Hokkaido complements the lemon ink on the plate, adding in a tart flavour. Don’t miss the pan-fried octopus balls for a hot appetiser packed with flavour. Classic signature rolls such as California and dynamite are available, with fresh salmon and tuna sashimi for a bite in between courses. For mains, I had to tuck into the Bibimbap, a rice bowl presented with egg yok in the centre, minced meat, zucchini, and peppers on the side. The mixture arrives in a sizzling bowl and is mixed by the table with gochujang (chilli pepper paste) to form a beautiful crisp rice mixture.My partner chose the ONI ramen, a generous portion big enough for two, with a flavour-packed broth, bone marrow, meat and noodles. Both were eaten with skewers of tender chicken thighs with scallion, miso marinated black cod, angus beef tenderloin, and chicken wings, all cooked on a charcoal robata grill. Each piece of protein was succulent, bursting with flavour and spice. To end the meal, we shared a scrumptious matcha green tea fondant with vanilla ice cream, and a side of hazelnut, coconut and mango mochi (bite-sized frozen ice cream with a soft outer coating.) There wasn’t a single dish that disappointed. If you are a fan of Asian food, dumplings or craving sushi, look no further than this new hotspot.
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