The FACT Dining Award Riyadh 2023 winner masters sophisticated simplicity.
The restaurant critic Antony Bourdain once said, “Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.” This philosophy can be applied to the FACT Dining Award Riyadh winner, MYAZU. The fine dining Japanese restaurant won Best Japanese and Restaurant of the Year at the 2023 event, and here’s why.
MYAZU is a homegrown success story. The restaurant opened in Jeddah and Riyadh in 2020. Over time, it has garnered commercial and critical success – it ranked at number 15 on the inaugural MENA’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.
This restaurant is all about quality and it has mastered a sophisticated simplicity. The venue is discreetly tucked away with a camouflaged logo in Musad Bin Jalawi. In Japanese, the name means the land of plenty, and refers to a city in Japan. Legend has it that an angry volcano met a lonely sea, they fell in love, and their passion gave birth to the fertile land of Myazu. The silhouette of the volcano and ocean can be found across the space, from a rock outside to napkin holders.
When you enter MYAZU, it brings together Japanese minimalism with international flair – yes, there are even heated Japanese toilets. Studio Glitt is behind the design that wouldn’t look out of place in London, Hong Kong or New York. At the heart of the restaurant is an open kitchen, so you can watch the culinary action.
The décor boasts an understated elegance with dim lighting and dark woods, which are complemented by golden features. Pops of colour come in the form of green and red chairs. The tables are intimate enough for two and big enough for groups. The shelves are lined with pots and crystal glasses, and there is a speakeasy-style bar in the back.
The dishes at MYAZU are rooted in tradition but have a modern influence, and showcase high-quality ingredients. The extensive menu spans cold dishes, gyoza, maki rolls, meat, rice, robata, rolls, tartare, salads, sandos, seafood, seasonal specials, sushi, tempura, vegetables and warm bites.
For starters, the chef surprised us with a new dish, King Crab with Gold Leaf, which had big bold flavours. The Hamashi Green Apple came with a fresh zingy yuzu ginger dressing and a jalapeño kick. The Marinated Yellowtail Sashimi was skilfully sliced and soaked up the bell pepper salsa and shiso ponzu dressing. The Crispy Duck and Watermelon was beautifully balanced and texture-tastic with sizeable soft fruit, and crunchy duck as well as cashew nuts.
The Whole Lamb Rack was under a lid, which was lifted to create a smoky show. The eight pieces were superbly seasoned with a shisho crust and yaki sauce. The menu excels at its most simple dishes, as the ingredients are the star of the show.
If you’re not sure what sushi to order, make it the Buri Nigiri. The dish comes with eight pieces with four different toppings, and flamed to create a strong smouldering taste. Japanese aficionados will love the Black Cod, which is oh-so-soft with a fall-off-the-fork flaky texture and pickled daikon. The Wagyu Sando was one of the best we have ever tasted. The soft beef fillet was cushioned between sweet Japanese milk bread.
MYAZU’s desserts experiment with established favourites, from the MYAZŪ Date Cake with toffee sauce to Vanilla Crème Brulee with popping candy. Each dish is presented like a work of art, most notably the MYAZŪ Magnums with its Jackson Pollock-like splattered chocolate.
The beverage menu includes classic mocktails from a Lassi to Mojito and creative concoctions. The Déjà Vu with non-alcoholic whisky, bitters and vermouth wouldn’t look out of place in a gentleman’s club, and Golden Rascal with non-alcoholic rum, almond and pineapple wouldn’t look out of place on the beach.
Looking for the best restaurant in Riyadh? Simple, it’s MYAZU Riyadh.
GO: Visit www.myazu.com for more information.