Published On: Thu, Aug 27th, 2015

Something for the weekend: Toko

In Japan, Marine Day (or  Umi No Hi, as it is natively known) is a national holiday during which the island nation thanks the ocean for its bounty.

It isn’t just about seafood. In Japan the ocean is as important to the economy and tourism industry, as it is Japanese stomachs, although it’s worth noting at this point that Japan is home to 2% of the global population but as a nation is responsible for 12% of the entire world’s fish consumption.

Marine Day is traditionally celebrated on the third Monday of July, but at Toko– located in Dubai’s Vida Downtown, part of The Address portfolio – the celebrations have been extended until the end of September with a 10 course Umi No Hi menu designed to nourish both the brain and body (with not a dried sardine in sight).

Toko Dubai_1

Educational and satiating, the banquet begins with edamame and a friendly welcome from waiter Alex, who explains the concept, the holiday and, most importantly, the menu.

Then we begin.

While 10 courses seems daunting on paper, we found it a point of both pride and embarrassment that working through it wasn’t. The trick is that the Japanese know how to design a menu and being masters of this art form, the chefs at Toko crafted a celebratory feast around essential nutrients and antioxidants, which truly is an homage to the ocean.

In the first course of dishes, the Japanese salad is based on dark leafy greens with a light and pallet cleansing dressing. The Okaki Maguro, composed of crispy rice, tuna, and truffle oil, sounds indulgent – and it is – yet precision in the portion control creates delicate morsels of flavour which perfectly set the scene for the next course: sushi. Far from a groundbreaking concept in cosmopolitan Dubai, the USP here is the undisputed freshness and subtlety in the flavours.

Toko Dubai_9

Part three marks a return to the theme of re-invention; even if overuse of the word “re-invention” in general vocabulary takes away from what has been achieved here. The tempura takes on the form of popcorn and scallops are served with a generous side of pickled apple.

Toko Dubai_11

By this time the menu has created an air of excitement around the main event, which arrives as a deconstructed delight of Avocado no ama jyouju lime zoe, Sake no aburi yaki and Ebi no sumi yaki: Avocado, grilled and drizzled with sweet soy and a side of lime; king salmon; and grilled king prawn.

After a polite pause, we are presented with a bento box of deserts; a continuation of the theme of nourishment rather than knock-out, but with hints of indulgence; chocolate pudding, ice cream, sorbet.

Toko has carved a serious reputation for itself on the crowded dining scene of Dubai and menus such as this provide the perfect opportunity for both long standing and regular fans of this izakaya restaurant to sample more than a traditional meal would encourage.

The menu


Okaki Maguro

Sake no miso tarutaru with sweet potato chips

Japanese salad


Omakase osashimi

Toko signature maki


Ebi no chiisai tempura

Hotate no jalapeno amazu zoe


Avocado no ama jyouju lime zoe

Sake no aburi yaki

Ebi no sumi yaki


Toko dessert bento box

Toko Dubai_4  Toko Dubai_6


The Umi No Hi set menu is available from 19.30 – 23.20 for 395AED

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