FACT Chats: Akmal Anuar, F&B Consultant at Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori
Akmal Anuar îs a name that many Dubai foodies will know. Anuar co-founded 3Fils in Jumeirah Fishing Harbour in 2016, helping to secure the homegrown eatery a spot on The World’s 50 Best Discovery list. He has since left the restaurant to open an F&B consultancy firm, and the first project is a collaboration with Sunset Hospitality, Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori.
What can diners expect when dining at Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori?
Diners can expect casual dining at Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori. Simple yet high-quality ingredients.
You recently opened your F&B consultancy firm White Rice, how is it going and what were the reasons behind the inception?
There is a huge opportunity to create new ideas and concept and bringing that into reality. Many investors have no issues when it comes to funding but are lacking in unique ideas, so this is where White Rice comes in. We will focus on building brands and will advise based on my experiences. I want my creations to reach global platforms.
Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori is a partnership with Sunset Hospitality Group. How did this partnership come about?
It was a very quick and sudden partnership. One of the owners is a customer and loves my cooking. Sunset Hospitality Group has always been one of the leading hospitality companies in the UAE and we are honoured to be working together in this amazing project. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.
What are the signature dishes at Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori and which should customers make sure they order?
Foie gras brûlée with Hokkaido sea urchin and caviar and peanut tart with chocolate orange ice cream are a must when dining in Goldfish. Obviously, the sushi and yakitori are good.
Can you please describe your creative process when it comes to the creation of new dishes? Where do you find inspiration?
I like to think of the ingredient first. Whether it’s at the peak of the season and taste. The dishes I create are not complicated and the priority is always about quality and flavour.
Which is your favourite dish on the Goldfish menu and why?
My favourite is always uni. I’ll eat this anytime, anyway. Simply wrap it in roasted nori and some sushi rice and it’s a killer!
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the food and beverage landscape in Dubai. Do you think the industry is beginning to bounce back?
Dubai bounced and leapt over the biggest mountain. We are seeing restaurants that are full again. Kudos to the UAE government, which took care of the situation well and made it possible for everyone to live almost normal again.
What do you believe restaurants have to do to stay relevant and ensure success during these unprecedented times for the industry?
Stay true and focus on what customers want. The good ones always survive because people know their offerings and expectations.
Do you believe peoples attitudes to dining out changed since the pandemic?
I think people got fed up because of the travel restrictions and everyone wants to get out of their houses and enjoy the beautiful weather now.
With the rise of influencers, what are your options on this new digital world where everyone has suddenly become a food critic?
Emotions need to be controlled. I used to get worked up by silly comments and complaints. But I have learnt how to evaluate. I take things with a pinch of salt and try to re-assess the matters. But I also want to maintain my strong stance but not be too arrogant.
What do you do to stay current on new trends and how do you feel about creating dishes purely for Instagram?
Digital media is very powerful these days. It’s been a great tool. Keeping it real is my choice and I think people are starting to see and feel that. Faking it now looks too apparent.
If you could dine at any restaurant in the world, where would you choose?
The one and only Sushi Sawada in Ginza, Tokyo.
What is your favourite cuisine to cook at home?
I don’t really cook at home. For me, it’s going home to an office. My wife does the cooking but if I’m in a mood to cook, I set up the barbecue for a good steak and burgers.
Any advice you have for budding chefs in the region?
Work hard and don’t give up.
What’s the greatest honour or compliment you’ve received as a chef?
To be honest, I don’t really have one. I am truly blessed to be in a position where people trust and support my work. I think gratitude towards all is the most important thing. I feel honoured to cook for people who believe in me.
Was there one person who impacted your decision to become a chef and who are your culinary inspirations?
I never dreamed or ever saw myself being a chef. Life started in the kitchen because my parent were hawkers back in 1992 and I pretty much grew up on that. Slowly the love and passion grew on that and I pursued it professionally.
Working in the industry, where do you like to eat when you have a day off? What are your favourite establishments in Dubai?
Places that never disappoint, Calicut Paragon in Karama, Long Teng in Business Bay and Tresind if I feel fancy.
What are the plans for Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori? Are there brunches or specific promotions we should be looking forward to?
The plan is to be great. Great in the things we do. Special in our own way. Hopefully, branch out with a couple of outlets in the region. We’re keeping it simple and cool—nothing over the top.