Review: Japanese eatery Akiba Dori is playful, funky and heart-warming

Akiba Dori is definitely worth visiting when in Jeddah…

There’s a cool vibe about Akiba Dori. The laid-back Japanese eatery sits in the heart of Jeddah’s vibrant Ar-Rawdah district, a neighbourhood surrounded by art galleries and museums.

Akiba Dori is everything you adore about that humid night down the lively backstreets of Tokyo. The first thing you’ll notice is the bright neon lights, anime characters and signs.

It manages to capture the energy of Akihabara’s pulsating hum to the City Yard Centre, an up-and-coming mixed-use lifestyle complex.

Akiba dori jeddah

We arrive at lunchtime. The place is cosy, friendly, bright, and busy.

The concept is akin to a food hall divided into colourful storefronts – there’s the Akibar drinks area, a Kashi-Pan bakery, and a Tokyopolitan pizzeria.

The playful and funky street-style interior complements the menu’s take on Japanese-inspired street food.

@whatsonksaCome for the playful and funky vibes but stay for the Tokyopolitan pizzas ? ##whatsonksa ##jeddahrestaurants ##akibadoriksa ##saudiarabia♬ OUT WEST (feat. Young Thug) – JACKBOYS & Travis Scott

The sesame-crusted salmon tataki (SAR67) is a good treat to start. Delicate but full of flavour when you dip it in the accompanying sesame-peanut sauce.

We also indulge in the wagyu tacos (SAR67) and wagyu katsu sando (SAR87). The yuzu-marinated beef encased with homemade tortillas is a decent option. Our only wish is for it to have a little more of the avocado salsa and the perfectly cooked beef fillings.

The wagyu katsu sando at Akiba Dori seems compact. A thick panko-coated, deep-fried steak sits between two slices of crustless toasted bread, with a layer of tangy honey katsu sauce, and paired with crispy fries. A delicious bite; rest assured.

If you’re looking for something comforting and tasty, dive straight into the chicken katsu curry (SAR67). This crowd favourite comes with a thick breaded chicken and deep-fried to a golden-brown, atop white rice and with a pool of velvety curry, filled with chunks of potato and carrot.

Akiba Dori

Now, for the reason we’re here – the Tokyo-style Neapolitan pizza. Akiba Dori has earned a reputation for introducing its pizza, which uses a much lighter dough than Neapolitan with premium toppings from Italy. It is then baked in the Japanese wood-fired oven for under 60 seconds.

As per the server’s recommendation, we opt for the Nyuyoku pizza (SAR64), veiled in a mix of American cheese and mozzarella and topped with Italian pepperoni. The perfectly charred crust and straightforward but delectable tomato base make this one of the best pizzas you’ll ever bite into.

Of the desserts, the star turn is the Lotus cheesecake (SAR39). It’s first served as a plain cheesecake, and then the server pours a warm caramel sauce over it and tops it with crushed Lotus biscuits. Now, it’s everything.

Akiba Dori lotus cheesecake

The first bite is heaven. We’re surprised by how light and airy the texture of the creamy cheesecake is. Then, as you have more bites of it, you just don’t want it to end.

Indeed, Akiba Dori is a great addition to Jeddah’s dining scene. Its playful and funky setting may go a long way, but the heart-warming taste of its Japanese-inspired street food are more than up to snuff.

Akiba Dori, City Yard Centre, Obaydah Al Sallmaney, Ar Rawdah, Jeddah 23435, Sat to Wed 1pm to midnight, Thurs & Fri 1pm to 1am. Tel: 012 605 5206. @akibadori.ksa