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Food & Beverage

Japanese cuisine gains fans in Middle East, buoyed by halal options

Increased access to affordable restaurants in region spurs food exports

Japan's consulate-general in Dubai hosted a shiitake mushroom tasting event in February. (Photo by Shuntaro Fukutomi)

DUBAI -- The rise of affordable Japanese restaurants in the Middle East is endearing local diners to the cuisine, opening up new opportunities for Japan's food and beverage companies as they seek a greater footprint overseas.

The buzz was on full display in late February, when dozens of chefs, food importers and other industry insiders from across the United Arab Emirates gathered at the Japanese consul-general's residence in Dubai for a tasting of Japanese shiitake mushrooms. Guests were treated to tarts and other bites cooked by a chef from a Michelin-starred restaurant in Dusseldorf, flown in specially for the event.

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