KONNICHIWA WITH A TWIST

A delightful evening was spent at Mirai Restaurant & Lounge by OHLALA’s editor and her dining companions. The culinary experience explored the eatery’s unique Japanese menu.

Japanese cuisine is revered worldwide for its unique ingredients, innovative flavours and distinct sense of culture and history. You find all of this at Mirai Restaurant & Lounge and, believe it or not, even more. Dining at one of the best Japanese restaurants in Bahrain was something me and my dining companions were looking forward to with extra excitement.

Mirai is located in the heart of Block 338, but I was not expecting it to be as busy as it was on a Sunday evening. One of my companions said this is regularly the case. So, if you feel like eating there after this review (which I am sure you will), it’s better to call in advance to make a reservation so you won’t be disappointed.

The décor gives a lot of Japanese vibes with minimalistic furniture mixing wood, natural fabrics, lanterns and simple yet eye-catching Noren (traditional Japanese fabric dividers, hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways or windows). The ones at Mirai are decorated with Shodo ( Japanese calligraphy) that uses a technique of ink-dipped brush to write kanji and kana characters. The ambience provides utter peace and subtly transports you to the Far East country.

We luckily sat in the private room, a separate area with wood panels and Noren, which gives privacy, but the semi-opaque fabric smartly lets you see the buzz in the restaurant area. We were even luckier to have the attentive Shiela bringing our dishes and explaining them carefully, proving how well she knew the menu. Well-versed staff make a remarkable difference and I genuinely appreciate it.

After checking the menu, which, by the way, is vast, we noticed authentic Japanese dishes but also creative recipes combining different (and unexpected) ingredients. We started our wonderful dinner with Tuna Carpaccio Burrata with yuzu (a sour citrus fruit from the lemon family) and soy mushroom. Yes, you read that right, burrata in a Japanese restaurant. Chef Junior Gomez, the Executive Chef at Mirai, has a menu full of surprises, mixing extraordinary ingredients for a stunning flavour combination. The smoked tuna and the soft burrata cheese perfectly and bizarrely married really well, putting a grin of delight on our faces.

Another spin was the Tuna Crispy Rice, a little crispy rice boat (instead of the regular soft rice) filled with minced tuna, garlic mayo, black truffle, truffle oil and Nagoya sauce (a mix of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, honey and sesame seeds). An exciting combination of textures that left a pleasant aftertaste on our palates. The Kari Kari Maki is a combination of fried salmon skin, Kani kamaboko (known as imitation crab, but in reality, a fish cake, very popular in westernised sushi), cucumber, spring onion, spicy mayo and red yuzu kosho (a type of Japanese seasoning paste) mayo. Another irreverent blend of ingredients.

Mirai was one of the winners of the ‘MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022’ awards and, to celebrate, the restaurant created the 50BEST Maki. The special roll is composed of Bluefin tuna otoro (the fattiest part of the tuna), prawn tempura, Tamago (a Japanese omelette), spicy salmon, cucumber, shitake mushroom, teriyaki sauce, spring onion, kizami wasabi and yuzu kosho mayo. It was a thick piece, but it had to be to accomplish such a complex taste. The flavours blended well and delivered an unimaginable sensation to our palates. And to highlight even more the quality of the ingredients used in the Mirai kitchen, Shiela brought a selection of Tako (octopus), Bluefin and Yellowtail tuna sashimi. The first mouthful made my companions exclaim loudly at the magnificence of the Yellowtail tuna – it was incredibly fresh and melted in their mouths.

As a big fan of vegetarian options, I was looking forward to Mirai’s Mixed Mushroom Bibimbap, a hot-stone pot of rice with mushrooms, vegetarian teriyaki sauce, truffle oil and fresh truffle. A dish praised by one of my dining companions. The whole presentation is a show apart. Shiela put it together in front of us, mixing the rice, mushrooms and the accompanying seasoning such as chilli oil, lemon, fresh coriander and chilli flakes. The rice is crispy in some parts and, when everything is well-mixed, you surprisingly get a crunchy texture in your bite. I can say that this was one of the best savoury dishes I have tried recently, and I am certainly going back for that unique combination and texture. The other vegetarian delight was the Edamame Dumpling, a thin parcel filled with edamame, cashew nuts and shitake mushroom in a bed of onion miso reduction and truffle oil. A little bag full of flavour with a crispy bottom that added an extra layer to the consistency, making it a pleasing bite.

I must add that the whole meal was served with a delicious sour cocktail, Mirai’s speciality, with a hint of yuzu, for a refreshing tang.

To end our feast, it was time for dessert. We had a selection of Mochi ice creams, beautifully presented in a bed of ice. Japanese Purin, a crème caramel type of pudding arrived in a beautiful small pot – after we dug our spoons in, the bottom had a caramelised sugar sauce surprise. As I mentioned before, the Mixed Mushroom Bibimbap was the best savoury dish I have had in a while, and now I can say that the Coconut Almond Cake was the best sweet I have had in a very, very long time. The cake was moist with a rich chocolate truffle interior, and the delicate texture melted in my mouth, a sensation I will be re-living for a while. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Mirai presented a food experience beyond my expectations (and they were high). If you enjoy Japanese cuisine but also appreciate a clever twist, Mirai is the place to go!

For more information and to make a reservation,
please call Mirai Restaurant & Lounge on 1771 3113 or 3917 3951.
@mirairestaurantlounge

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