March 06, 2015 Hamra & Verdun Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Osaka: A Renowned Japanese Restaurant in Beirut
Non-smokers friendly

Phone Number: +961 1 360630

Address: Minat el Hosn, Beirut, Lebanon


Price Range: 55-80 $


Welcoming: 3/5

Food Temperature: 8/10

Ambiance / Music: 4.5/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 26/30

Architecture / Interior: 8/10

Food presentation: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Value for money: 7/10

I'll spare you the introductions and get straight to the point. Osaka is one of my favorite Japanese places in town and the restaurant has the finest, simplest, least complicated rolls in town. I came back to enjoy another experience at Osaka...but last time was way better.


Same place but new menu: Appetizers, salads, tempura, soups and ramen, sashimi, sushi, gunkan, temaki, futo maki, hoso maki, ura maki, boats and special plates, main course, side dishes and desserts.

The place is small, soothing and simply relaxing. A bar takes over the dining space, surrounded by square tables and only one round one, which we chose for tonight's dinner. Wood is everywhere, dimmed lighting, backlit ceiling and lots of glass facades give a relaxing feel which makes you feel like dining outside. 

From the Philippines, the waiters are well trained. They are all presentable, well dressed and always smiling. They make you feel comfortable as they serve you… They are obviously happy with their jobs. 

Now for the music! Sorry to say but it was horrendous! Music with no identity, no spirit, no planning. A radio playing in the background... Beat, slow, dance... Please no! Please stop the music. In a restaurant like this, the music should be calm and smooth, making customers stay here for long without feeling the need to leave. Please dear management, do something about the music. All I thought about that night was the music; it's really, really bad.


Dinner is served:

  • Perfectly cooked Edamame simply covered with salt. The crispy salmon salad is a mountain of big cubes of salmon covered with crisps. A small portion of mayonnaise, perfect quality salmon, served cold. The salmon on ice is also very good. A bowl of ice under leaves of lettuce topped with salmon of a very good quality. The first impression is very good.
  • When the rolls were served, I remembered my last experience. They beautifully presented plates with no plastic leaves to separate one roll from the other, round and big... I was expecting to be amazed. 
  • Served on two plates, the portions are smaller than before, but they still looked good. Although good, I remember them being better. Just to make myself clear, the rolls are very good, but I expected something better here at Osaka. 
  • The rolls were bigger, the rice used to be less chewy, the flavors were more pronounced. Fresh ingredients, no mayonnaise but again, I expected the same flavor or even better.  And for some reason, the ugly separating plastic leaves are back. Why?
  • The black cod is majestic. Six wraps each filled with fresh mushrooms and soaked in their sweet sauce. The textures, the warmth, the flavors... A must try.
  • Salmon skin Temaki: A super fresh nori is filled with a special mix of salmon skin that's lightly crunchy while a subtle sauce adds the flavor, which I really enjoyed. It came with a small portion of rice, that was right size.


Time for dessert. Osaka's desserts are brought from Vanille known for their green tea macaroons made famous at Le Sushi Bar and their ice cream is from Oslo. With that we ordered their Mochi ice cream marketed on the table to be the best in Lebanon.

Indeed, the Mochis are excellent. Good in texture, an enjoyable envelope and a tasty ice cream. The giant green tea is Vanille's famous creation, which is special; sticky macaroon, buttery creamy filling and crunchy pistachio. The chocolate tart is exquisite, one of Oslo's best creations. Desserts are very good.

The pluses:

  • I love their ginger
  • I like their big plates


The minuses:

  • I thought they stopped using the ugly plastic green leaves, which I wrote about in my last review. Why did they reappear back on the plates?
  • The rolls were bigger, it's like they have shrunk a bit.
  • That was last time: "The presentation of the pieces makes them look like pieces of art". I can't say the same tonight.
  • The manager wasn't around much.
  • I used to understand the elevated prices... not today.

Must change:

  • They had Eurosport broadcasting? What does sports have to do with this restaurant? Minimal effort required here.
  • The music, for God's sake!
  • If Osaka is considered a high-end Japanese restaurant, plastic bottles should not be welcomed here. They're using Sohat as a brand and they have glass bottles, so…  

I wish the impression I had on Osaka was left intact. All was good like Tsunami is good but I surely expected better from Osaka…





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