Upscale and tasty Japanese food in the Bahrain World Trade Centre 5 Reviews
Like the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, the opera house in Sydney and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Bahrain World Trade Centre has fast worked its way into position as Bahrain’s most iconic building. Whenever CNN mentions the Kingdom, up comes an obligatory flash of the twin towers. Whenever the BBC crosses to their correspondent in Bahrain, they pitch up outside the two spikes to signify the city. Yet, despite being home to one of the country’s best malls, the building itself has always been lacking a really good restaurant, bar or gallery, without which buildings, however grand, can quickly become irrelevant.
Fortunate, then, that one of the Middle East’s most successful Japanese restaurant chains recently moved in. Maki has already established itself as an authority on Japanese cuisine in Kuwait, and its Beirut branch is frequently rated as having the best sushi in the Middle East. The Bahrain restaurant is decked out in industrial glitz: glossy grey walls and metallic fittings with lavish feathered chandeliers and decadent table displays. It’s a look that could easily go wrong, but in this case doesn’t, blending the cosy with the austere, and making it perfectly in tune with the iconic towers that soar above it. The only glaring mistake is the television screens. One can only assume they were included under the impression they would give the place an edge that was both modern and quirky. They do not, and the fact that they show what appear to be adverts for dishes on the menu smells much more of a cheap cafe in Shinjuku than the posh nosh Rappongi hangout that the restaurant is evidently aiming for.
The menu here is massive, so factor in fifteen minutes to look through it. Refined, presumably, by years of operating elsewhere, the food list has a number of interesting quirks: Tekamaki in filo as opposed to nori, a huge range of souped up sushi, and a couple of platters of sashimi dedicated to pop stars. My friend and I opted for a J-Lo, a combination of salmon and white fish in a slightly spicy sauce, along with yellow fin tuna sashimi, spicy tuna and avocado salad, wakame salad, a plate of new wave maki (salmon and crunchy spring onion rolls), a couple of the tekamaki fusions and a miso soup each to cap it off. We would have ordered more were we not locked into indecision thanks to the immensity of the menu before us.
In Japanese food you get what you pay for, and Maki is not cheap. But then, each dish that we tried was pitched to perfection, with the exception of the spicy tuna salad. Being a Thai-inspired Japanese dish, the flavours in the salad need to be bursting with heat and spice. That they were not was a mild disappointment, but one quickly forgotten after an encounter with the J-Lo, sashimi drowned in an exquisite blend of soy sauce and ginger.
As my friend and I rolled out sometime near midnight, the restaurant was still heaving - quite something in Bahrain. Not least because it had only opened a few days before, which in Bahrain terms made it practically invisible. If Maki can sustain its current momentum, it has the potential to transform the dining scene in the country.
The bill (for two)
Spicy tuna avocado salad BD6.750
Wakame salad BD3.500
J-Lo sashimi BD6.250
Akami (yellow fin tuna) sashimi, 5pcs BD6.000
New wave maki, 8pcs BD5.000
Temaki Fusion I BD4.500
Temaki Fusion II BD4.500
Miso soup x 2 BD4.000
Large water BD2.000
Time Out Bahrain,
Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.