The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas

Interview of Supporter Stores BENTO-YA Al Kawakeb D block

Providing Japanese food that the people of Dubai can enjoy casually

Dubai / United Arab Emirates

The history in the name “BENTO-YA”

The owner, Mr. Taniuchi, came to Dubai in the summer of 1995 as a chef for a Japanese restaurant. Summers in Dubai can reach temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius during the afternoon, making it unthinkable to go outside. Despite this, he would see people on motorbikes delivering meals, even during the hot afternoon hours. Information on home delivery are posted on the walls of the supermarkets and restaurants in the city, with delivery service provided for even just one carton of milk. Mr. Taniuchi says that when he learned of this situation, “I developed a dream of one day delivering Japanese food to the people in Dubai.”

And two years later in 1997, he opened BENTO-YA as a store specializing in the delivery of Japanese food. In Dubai, the word “bento” is often found in food menus; this actually comes from the name of Mr. Taniuchi’s restaurant.

A Japanese restaurant that can be enjoyed casually

When Mr. Taniuchi first came to Dubai, Japanese food was thought to be an expensive cuisine. However, Mr. Taniuchi wanted the people of Dubai to have Japanese food more casually, and worked on developing a bento (meal box) menu with affordable pricing that anyone would be able to enjoy. At the beginning, he focused his efforts into the delivery of bentos, but he received many requests for being able to eat the meals at the store. Thus, he started providing eat-in services, and added rice bowls and noodle dishes that busy business persons would be able to eat quickly, as well as sushi and other menus that could be enjoyed more leisurely.

As the United Arab Emirates is an Islamic country, he is careful about his choice of ingredients so that his Islamic customers will be able to enjoy the meals without needless worry.

Providing a spirit of hospitality

The downtown area in the center of Dubai is full of business persons working at all hours, regardless of day or night. And so, Mr. Taniuchi wants his customers to be able to relax, at least while they are having their meals. Thus, he educates his staff thoroughly in the spirit of hospitality, even covering minute details such as giving greetings in Japanese, always remembering to change the dishes, and being careful not to disturb the customers while they are conversing.

Popular dishes that use ingredients from Japan

Among the ingredients from Japan, eel is extremely popular, with eel rolls and eel rice bowls being some of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Other popular dishes using Japan-made ingredients are Wagyu beef. Customers who have had Wagyu before become enamored by its unique, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Also, Mr. Taniuchi aptly combines ingredients from Japan with other ingredients that can be procured locally to provide a diverse range of Japanese food. The Chirashi Sushi, made by combining seafood acquired from Japan with those procured locally, is a popular item among the local Arabs. Not only that, he is always looking for new ingredients from Japan, and is trying various ideas such as creating rice bowls using rice-shaped konnyaku or trying to develop demand for baked sweet yam.

Mr. Taniuchi wishes to support the Japanese food manufacturers in this difficult business environment, and says, “If there is anyone in the food business who is thinking of doing business in Dubai, I would like to share my experiences and knowledge with them.”

List of shops

BENTO-YA Al Kawakeb D block (弁当屋)
Al Kawakeb D block, Shop# 4 ground floor, Sheikh Zayed Road.
+971- 4- 343- 0222 site: a new window will open.