Penelope Walsh, Eating Out editor at Time Out Dubai, on Nobu:
The Dubai branch of chef Nobu Matsuhisa's restaurant empire sits within the underwater themed resort Atlantis the Palm. This elaborate hotel boasts a gigantic aquarium (styled as subaquatic tableaux of the fictitious city), blown-glass statues and mosaic-covered columns in bold tones of blue, green and gold.
In such an ostentatious context the restaurant itself is relatively understated, and a large portion of Nobu Dubai's charm is thanks to the Rockwell Group, who devised the darkly elegant interior. The decor is denominated by red and black; fluid bamboo frames roll from ceiling to floor, mimicking ocean waves, and bamboo fishing baskets, twisted into cylindrical shapes, line the ceiling. The marine theme is almost inevitable given the Atlantis setting, but it also reflects the culinary traditions - of Japan and Peru - that influence Nobu's menu.
Traditional Japanese materials are used to modern effect, as seen in the grand, 60ft-long wall of river stones that curves around the entrance to the bar, and the black bamboo-encased sushi counter. It brings a sense of nature inside the restaurant, continuing the serenity of the restaurant's outdoor dining space, where they grow their own herbs and vegetables.
Nobu Dubai. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. +971 4 426 2626.
More on Nobu from Time Out Dubai
New on the scene
The pick of this year’s entries for the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards, as selected by Time Out Dubai:
At this Restaurant & Bar Design Awards nominee, the Japanese concept of the izakaya (the dining and drinking den from which the restaurant takes its name) is given fresh aesthetic vigour. Designers LW Design Group and Emirati designer Amani Al Lauz have created a late-night space that imagines a Tokyo of the future, scoring the dark setting with bright neon lighting.
Snaking along the back of the dining space is a variegated display lit with blue, green, orange and purple, while the tables cosseted between fretwork screens – a characteristic feature of Asian restaurants in Dubai – contribute to the intimate, nightspot feel.
At Izakaya, even the waiting staff are part of the design concept. From the 'wasabi girl', in her acid green wig (offering diners wasabi, freshly grated at their table) to the mismatched stockings on the waitresses, the staff are neon rag dolls from a future fashion era who bring the whole fantasy aesthetic to life.
Penelope Walsh, Eating Out editor, Time Out Dubai
Izakaya. JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE. +971 4 414 0000.