Reif Japanese Kushiyaki took Dubai by storm in 2019. In a city oversaturated with quality F&B, Singaporean chef Reith Othman somehow managed to create a concept that had people queuing outside for a taste of its unconventional street food.
This was less of a surprise however, to those of us who understood Othman’s pedigree and popularity in Dubai.
Formerly head chef of Zuma, Othman is well-established as one of the city’s key players, with a fan base willing to follow him blindly, and with his eponymous restaurant being a return to the Japanese cuisine of Zuma, it was always likely to be a success.
But he faces a new challenge with Kushi by Reif at Nakhell Mall on The Palm. By rights it should be a success – it’s an extension of Reif Japanese Kushiyaki, after all – but opening while there’s still restrictions on dining out due to coronavirus and with consumer confidence at a low, won’t be easy.
“Every crisis opens up opportunities,” is Othman’s take on it, however. “Kushi by Reif at Depachika Food Hall was on the cards before the pandemic. We decided to accelerate our expansion plan for two reasons: With a new Palm Jumeirah location, we can feed residents across that side of town – as well as Jumeirah, where Reif Japanese Kushiyaki is located.
“Demand for comfort food is rising due to the pandemic. So I developed a range of simple, classic desserts with my own Japanese twist – alongside savoury chirashi and donburi rice bowls. All as a prelude to the opening of the Kushi by Reif eatery later this year.”
The new outlet is just a taster of what it will grow to become, with the cake and chirashi counter being a permanent addition, while donburi will only be available on weekends until Kushi by Reif opens fully.
It’s only thanks to the kindness of Mamalu Kitchen allowing Othman to use its kitchens to prepare hot food when it’s closed that he is able to bring his donburi to the public so soon.
Perhaps this is a sign of a post-Covid kindness that will see the F&B industry unite together for a common good.