I am back again. Thankfully, this time it’s not raining. Clear blue skies and a sunny day. I am at Al Wasl Square, this fab new…ish Dubai neighbourhood. First port of call for lunch is a home-grown sushi spot, Chez Sushi, a few steps away from The Pantry Café. It’s the same team that brought us Japanese supper club, Sho Cho at Dubai Marine Beach Resort…and many a memory of saketini and sashimi-fuelled nights…a long, long time ago though.
Anyhow digressing, Chez Sushi is a small, bright joint with splashes of acid orange and lime green, and over-stuffed sushi-shaped cushions…the latter a bit odd I agree but rather quirky. With a few tables occupied, we pick a couple of window seats, or rather bar stools I should say, overlooking the stream of Saturday traffic on Al Wasl road.
Whilst perusing the menu, we munch on a portion of edamame beans with a good kick of soy, ginger and sesame, whilst cups of Japanese sencha tea are constantly replenished. The pristine crockery, with a rugged white matt finish impresses immediately. Apart from the usual Japanese dishes, Chez Sushi offers a custom-build option, or pick ‘n mix as I describe it. Choose from brown or white rice, raw and cooked seafood and meat ingredients, veggies (with one fruit option – mango), toppings and dressings. Aside from the menu listing, ingredients are on display in a refrigerated counter.
Our miso soup arrives piping hot with with plenty of diced tofu and shreds of wakame seaweed. Next up is a portion of gyoza, Japanese grilled dumplings, in this case stuffed with prawns and coriander – a little too crisp and dry despite dipping into the accompanying citrus-based ponzu sauce. It lacks the plump, juicy texture that makes Sumo Sushi’s and Tomo’s so addictively moreish. The salmon and tuna sashimi arrive as generous slabs - both equally tender and succulent. A Japanese chilli and orange pepper mix by the name of Nanami Togarashi on display at our table adds punch to our soy sauce dip. We ask our waitress if we can buy it…no she says, Choitram’s opposite sells it. Really Chez Sushi, I think you’re missing out on a good sales opportunity here. I’d happily pay a premium than cross the road to Choitram’s.
We then dabble at building our own sushi, however the menu confuses us, and whilst waiters are on hand, they lack the confidence to advise us. Chez Sushi would benefit from a tick box menu like Noodle House or Asia Republic. We settle on three different maki rolls (six of each) – the highlight by far is the spicy tuna with brown rice, a great alternative, rolled with avocado, spring onions, sesame seeds and citrus yuzu dressing. The spicy tuna is raw but oddly listed under the cooked ingredients section – you could argue that a lemon marinade may have cooked it slightly. The wasabi mayo does the trick for our yellowtail and jalapeno brown rice sushi, whilst sadly the beef teriyaki maki choice, with oshinko, a Japanese pickle, is overcooked and tough.
Chez Sushi is a cute, casual joint for fans of Japanese food especially sushi and sashimi afficionados. Whilst some of the dishes would benefit from a little tweaking, and the service fine-tuning, for AED 150 per head, we both wholeheartedly agree we would return. And if I lived a little closer, I would order delivery chez moi. After all, Chez Sushi is an innovative home-grown concept that Dubai’s dining out scene desperately needs.
But before heading back, drop in for tea and cake at BookMunch, Dubai’s first literary café with food stylist Fiona Archibold as consultant chef. A Mad Hatters tea party table greets us laden with decadent cakes and sweet delights. The carrot, courgette and walnut cake with cream cheese frosting has a citrusy tang and without a doubt rivals Lime Tree’s and Ouche’s original carrot versions. On the other hand, the chocolate ganache layer cake is a little too rich and sickly sweet for our liking. The beauty of BookMunch lies in browsing fab coffee table books like these two, whilst munching away on not just cake, but for brekkie, lunch and dinner…oh and there’s free wireless.
What do you think of this new little Dubai neighbourhood? Have you tried any of the eateries?
Chez Sushi is located in Al Wasl Square on Al Wasl road. T; 800-Sushi. Open daily 12noon to midnight. Delivery from Bur Dubai to Barsha. AED 150 per person.
BookMunch is located a few doors down in Al Wasl Square on Al Wasl road. T; +971 4 3884006. E; email@example.com Open Sunday to Thursday 7.30am – 10pm and weekends 8am – 10:30pm. Free Wi-Fi. Cakes AED 26 per slice. Tea AED 16.