Oman Magazine sits with Zakarya Alaalam to learn about his foodie-journey from a Bahraini background, to becoming a Far East food fan and restaurateur.
Wokyo is the brain-child of Zakarya and his Swedish wife Nazli. Together, with their distinct appreciation of all-things-Asian, they developed Dubai’s very first healthy Wok restaurant, reminiscent of simple street food stalls in Asia where you can find the freshest and most interesting flavours.
So, how did it come about that the ‘Far East’ would be their food of choice?
“It was on one the flights to Bangkok in 2004 that Nazli and myself met. We immediately started talking about our love of Asian cuisine, being especially competitive of who knew the best places to eat and who could best figure out the ingredients in the food we would try! Many times we would recreate the dishes when back home in Dubai and invite friends and family to experience it with us.
During our time working for Emirates we explored the whole world but kept craving Asian flavours, which lead us to constantly request flights to the Far East; Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok and Seoul were among our favourites. After more than 10 years of flying around together, we decided to bring what we knew best of Asian cuisine to our new home; Dubai.
Together with our friend who is a Swedish chef and who specialises in Asian cuisine, we recreated the flavours paired with an attentive Asian customer service, known as Ometenashi, which encompasses both a modern Asian vibe with attention to detail; and so, Wokyo Noodle Bar was born.”
The name Wokyo is inspired from the vibrant city of Tokyo and the Asian cooking pot, Wok. Hence the name WOKYO. The mission is to explore the great noodle tradition of the Far East, bringing the exotic flavours of street food stalls and back alleys, the craft and the freshness in a simple way to our customers. “Choose your flavour, choose your noodle and choose your protein. It’s as simple as that!”
If you are craving more than a main dish, there are plenty of side dishes to choose from, to please both the heart and the stomach. The options are endless and the dishes timeless. “We aspire to become the obvious choice for noodle lovers!”
Team Oman Magazine experienced the simplistic menu and chose a combination of ricestick noodles, chicken breast, Kyoto ponzu soy sauce, pak choi and a sprinkling of cashew nuts. Ponzu is an elegant savoury and light sauce freshly made every day and seasoned with fresh shisu leaves flown weekly from Kyoto, Japan to Dubai.
Men’s Editor, Lucas, had the Seoul Flaming Chili, Udon noodles and beef. The Chef used an authentic Korean fermented chili paste to make this mouth watering spicy flavour. It has a unique sweet, spicy and umami flavor which keeps you coming back for more. A must-try by any means!
“As a travel connoisseur, I truly enjoy places that can take me traveling again through taste, smell, and experience. Wokyo is one of these places. It’ll transport you to south east Asia, through noodles and all the other details they have within, written on their walls, present on the faces and smiles of the staff. – Lucas Raven, Men’s Editor”
To refresh, we recommend the homemade Thai Iced tea “Cha Yen” or the Thai Hibiscus iced tea which is very popular in streets of Bangkok during summer. Both were light, not-too-sweet and hydrating.
For sides, we enjoyed the classic Edamame with Ebi Mayo, which are fresh ocean prawns crisp fried and served with our signature home made spicy Japanese Mayo sauce.
To finish, we experienced a trio of sweet mochi; green tea, chocolate and custard; fresh and light from Tokyo. Our dinner was a fully integrated Asian journey, from Kyoto to Seoul to the streets of Bangkok, served with warm casual Japanese hospitality, as referenced before, the Ometenashi.
Today, Wokyo is one of the top noodle destinations in the UAE, and we will certainly be visiting in the near future for another dose of Asian-goodness, served with love and lashings of flavour.
JLT Cluster J, J2 Tower, Lake Level, Dubai, Next to Bonnington Hotel
800 WOKYO (+971 80096596)
Instagram: #wokyo Facebook: @wokyojlt