Self-titled and homemade – Hotel News ME


How do these raw fish and potatoes turn into so many beautiful dishes? That was the question young Reif Othman asked himself every time his mother took him to the market when he was little. Spending the next few years of his life answering this question will reward Dubai-based chef and restaurateur Reif with the Chefs’ Choice Award in the inaugural MENA 50 Best Restaurants 2022 range, a MICHELIN Guide Dubai 2022 Bib Gourmand, and well – Coveted UAE Golden Visa.

Originally from Singapore, Chef Reif began his culinary adventure in the United Arab Emirates in 2004 when he worked at Burj Al Arab. After just a year, he left and returned home to gain the experience he needed to fulfill his dream of one day opening his own restaurant. Back in Singapore, he met his wife, founded his family and opened a few restaurants. Five years later, he received an offer to run one of the area’s most beloved restaurants, Zuma Dubai. During his last Zuma tour, he was responsible for opening Zuma Room in cities around the world. On New Year’s Eve 2016, chef Reif launched a new concept in Dubai, Play Restaurant & Lounge at the H Hotel, where he would spend another two years before seeing his name on a restaurant door. Reif Othman’s Experience offered an omakase tasting menu to a table of twelve with a new theme each month. This experiment allowed Chef Reif to test the market’s reaction to different dishes. After two years, he worked with F1 legend and billionaire Dubai owner Flavio Briatore, opening restaurants in Monaco and London. After a year of successful openings for Flavio and a few pop-ups later, his eponymous, self-made F&B brand was born.

Chief Reif’s story is not about luck, inheritance or the landing of wealthy investors. Her story is about having the resilience and discipline to pursue what you want and do it your way. His courage did not waver at the expense of naysayers or the prospect of hard work. Knowing his father disapproved but determined to become a chef, he went to culinary school without his father’s knowledge, a decision that found him financially alone. Discipline set in and Chef Reif worked as a broker at night and a chef by day to achieve his dream. He made a lot of sacrifices when he pursued his passion for cooking full time by blocking out anything that stood in the way of him achieving his goals.

Chef Reif is independent in thought and business, and thanks to his financial savvy, he has always seen things from a very calculated point of view. After spending years studying the country’s F&B industry, unconventional plate after plate, his data highlighted one key conclusion: an upscale casual F&B concept was what Dubai needed.

Being in debt and not having complete creative control to achieve his goal was not part of his plan. So he put his savings to work and opened his casual, neighborhood and affordable restaurant, Reif Kushiyaki. Chef Reif’s focus is on the quality of his produce, he has created a place where people can enjoy top quality cuisine in their flip flops without spending a pretty penny.

With its hands-on approach to business, good feng shui, and other calculated risk, Reif Japanese Kushiyaki at Dar Wasl Mall in Jumeirah has become every foodie’s wish list. A licensed outpost of Reif Japanese Kushiyaki followed at Time Out Market Dubai in April 2021, along with another branch at Dar Wasl Mall in September 2021 to meet a surge in demand. Rounding out the all-day menu, he added Asagohan, the morning Japanese breakfast offering a mix of Far Eastern-inspired savory and sweet dishes alongside European classics – all boasting the unconventional twist of Reif and its trademark cakes.

MENA50BR22 Chefs Choice Award – Reif Othman

His ability to find the right partnerships and loyal staff comes from his honest and open approach as a businessman. This style of management proved effective during the COVID-19 lockdown when Reif had to close its site, leaving its staff with no income. He assessed his finances and found a way to keep them on paid leave, ensuring they could survive the financial impact of the pandemic. Once restrictions eased, her kindness was rewarded with good fortune when the restaurant reopened to a full house. Chef Reif understands the power of money and knows very well that every penny counts, and his belief system is firmly rooted in always doing the right thing and taking care of the people around you. “At the end of the day, my staff is my foundation. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am, and Reif wouldn’t be where it is. It’s all of them. I haven’t always owned a restaurant and I remember what it was like to be in their shoes. He adds.

Chef Reif continues to embrace Japanese sensibilities in his cuisine, with an influence from Italian and French cuisine. Its cuisine is renowned for its quality, flavor, consistency, creativity and spirit. He’s always the first to introduce a new dish that sets off a nationwide trend, whether it’s the yuzu and lemon “toilet roll” cake that went viral during the pandemic, his Wagyu Sando, famous on Instagram, or his Kushi skewers.

The world’s first Reif Japanese Kushiyaki franchise restaurant opened in December 2021 in Cairo at the 5A By The Waterway complex, with renowned Egyptian franchise partner and F&B operator, Baky Hospitality, seating 140 diners in a licensed space.

Three new franchise sites were also signed for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. And the brand has just announced two new licensed concepts in the UAE, Reif Japanese Kushiyaki and separately, TERO Chef’s Table. The two fully self-funded restaurants are scheduled to open in the new Dubai Hills Estate Business Park area in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Chef Reif not only has great taste in cooking, he also has a sense of fashion. His standout streetwear store, Soleside by Reif in Al Wasl Vita Mall, is a reflection of his style and passion for clothes. This showcase for Bearbrik sneakers, streetwear and collectible toys houses both a boutique and a café. Additionally, Reif is branching out into a new category of cuisine with the signing of its own unconventional Korean barbecue concept, under the playful name of Hoe Lee Kow, at the UAE’s first boutique hotel, Hotel Indigo Dubai. Downtown, which will open its doors in September with a licensed rooftop restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating for 220 people. He also supports chef consultant projects and short-lived collaborations in the UAE and abroad.

Growing up, Chef Reif was always a little rough around the edges. He never saw himself putting on a collared shirt every day to work in a company. Even when his loved ones told him he would never succeed as a chef, he used their words to fuel his passion, and his vision became increasingly clear. Now in his kitchen, award-winning chef Reif continues to wow the industry with his unconventional Japanese cuisines in a cool graphic tee and new pair of sneakers.

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