If you’re a Japanese food buff in Bahrain, then you probably already know about the award winning Sato at The Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention & Spa. Sato is clearly the restaurant of choice for times when you need to seriously impress. The foodie institution has a reputation to behold and FACT’s Elanur Sengel takes a seat to savour wholesome Japanese cuisine at its finest…

As we walked into Sato, a kimonoclad waitress welcomed us with a nice bang on the giant gong at the entrance, a sound that signified what was about to come. And what was about to come was nothing less than the magic of *drumrolls* Chef Kevin de Guzman — the man responsible for the onslaught of wow-moments we were about to pursue.

Seated and all excited, we felt the japanese vibes so much! (Is there a seatbelt somewhere?!)

Soft classical music filled the room, which is designed to depict a Japanese home, with sunken tables and traditional tatami flooring. This peaceful zen-like surrounding is not just a restaurant, but an experience. Something that follows through to the excellent menu.

We started with the Uzusukuri — thinly sliced seasonal white fish sashimi served with ponzu sauce. Super fresh, perfectly cut pieces – that I notso discreetly hoarded – but quickly forgave myself for they were just THAT good. I was still busy with devouring the delicious Uzusukuri, when suddenly, just like that, it was coming to our table, with only one mission: to blow us away. And it did. The most colourful sashimi bowl we have ever seen — Sato’s Sashimi Funamori. The bowl was full of various pieces of delicious seafood. Judging by how the fish was carefully chopped, I realised the cooks devoted all their passion and skills into creating this awesome dish. This sashimi was undoubtedly a masterpiece, but it was actually the Otoro and Churoto Sushi that suggested just how serious Sato really is about authentic Japanese food. As the most desirable part of the inside of the tuna’s belly, Otoro is such a limited – and most expensive – part of the fish. And guess what? Sato is the only Japanese restaurant on the island that serves it. We could immediately taste why this dish was so prestigious. With its sweet taste, it literally melts in our mouths and we finish it up with gusto.

So much taste, so many emotions, but the party had to go on. The Mahotsukai Maki was our next dish. It was rich, creamy and absolutely perfect. Easily some of the best maki we’ve tasted in Bahrain. After also enjoying the must-order dish of sea bass with truffle egg, we reached a point where eating more started to become a challenge. But we couldn’t leave without trying the Chef’s divine Beef Taremoto. The meat was truly tender, the taste was just pristine, and we were undoubtedly exceeding our limits.

But, this culinary journey wasn’t over just yet. Chef Kevin was preparing something unique for our dessert course – surely a concoction that would send us deep into a food coma – but we were all in! The dessert was, again, an experience. What we were pleased with was the Japanese water cake, also called the raindrop cake. A cake purely made of water, topped with dark sugar syrup and roasted soy bean flour. Not too sweet, rather light and refreshing, it was completely unique and surprising. The perfect end to a great meal!

What strikes us immediately about Sato is their strong service game. The staff is very attentive and friendly yet they give you plenty of space to enjoy your time there with no intrusion. All in all, the diverse à la carte menu, the sushi bar, the bentos, and the teppanyaki rooms, where live cooking and entertainment is provided by the talented chefs – these are all individual ingredients to the big recipe that is Sato.

It’s no wonder that the restaurant has been around for so long, helping new diners create memories and reminding loyal patrons of why they should keep coming back for more. An absolute must visit, Sato is a place you’ll fall in love with from the moment you enter until the moment you leave.✤