Zeitaku Saturday brunch at 99 Sushi Bar Abu Dhabi - Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi


From my round up to last year's best brunches in the city, Best Abu Dhabi Brunches, 7 of the 12 brunches were all table brunches. Some venues and concepts just naturally led themselves to that type of brunch. So, when 99 Sushi bar launched its own brunch  a few weeks ago, I was naturally thrilled because it meant one more table brunch experience in the city. Not only are they more sustainable, the quality of food is generally better and the service more personalised. 

Based on my recent experience by invitation, here are some thoughts.

Uber stylish venue

There are those restaurants I walk into and I have an overwhelming feeling of style and cool. This is one of those. From the water wall fall feature as I approach the restaurant, to the intimate bar that has a real living room feel to it, to the equally cosy dining area, tastefully done blinds and clever lighting, this is sexy restaurant. To sit here for 5 hours is not a bad way to spend the afternoon. Not at all!






Concept

Brunch starts on the terrace with drinks. I love this. When you are ready, move to your table. There are 10 courses served at your table. Even by Japanese standards which notoriously often leave sone hungry because the portions are so small, this is a lot of food. I was full by the time the main course was served. The myth that table brunches do not offer a lot of food has been debunked again. The twist to the concept comes with the very generous timing. It is held on a Saturday from 1pm until sunset. That makes for about 5-6 hours depending on sunset. 





Drinks selection

Excellent. There is only one other brunch in Abu Dhabi that offers two champagnes. 99 Sushi Bar gives its premium brunch guests a chance to enjoy two bubblies - the ever reliable Taittinger Brut NV as well as  a fun aperitif and dessert option in Veuve Cliquot Rich - the only brunch that has the latter on its menu. It is also one of a handful of brunches that offers good wine as part of its brunch experience. These are wines you are unlikely to find at any other brunch in Abu Dhabi. Finally, premium sake is available to high end package buyers. For the mid range package, there is wonderful sparkling wine from South Africa, Pongracz Brut, also made the traditional champagne way. You will be pleased! 



However, as much as I enjoy champagne, I think a high quality cava would have been the way to go. I want a sparkling that really expresses the unique experience that is 99 Sushi Bar, but I can understand form the restaurant's point of view - not many people appreciate cava. We are obsessed with the brand that is champagne. 






A foodie's brunch

99 Sushi Bar is so much more than Blue fin tuna. It is also so much more than the toro sushi that is one of the nigiris served. Having said that, these elements go a long way to making this a wonderful experience. My daughter was with me for brunch and she said, 'Other than the lack of stickiness, this rice is very Japanese'. This comes from someone who lives in Japan and eats rice twice a day. I had a bowl of rice.



There is a series of highs on this menu. The nigiris are all exceptional, with stand outs obviously the toro and also the Butterfish and truffle - beautiful. The Temptsuyu maki had only one problem - there was just one of them. Expect to be wowed by the temptsuyu sauce. Dishes I have had before proved consistently good again like the Spicy tuna tartar and the Tiger prawn tempura.  Another outstanding offering is the Panko mistura roll - look forward to this. As the name suggests, expect a nicely textured dish. For the main, which is shared between two people, we had the Skirt steak. Now I like this dish. I think many people are two narrow in their appreciation of beef in this city. If it is not a tenderloin or a striploin, they do not value it. There is so much of the cow that is not used here. I am glad to see this on the menu.I believe it was nicely cooked with a beautiful pink colour. Kudos to chef for the jus. 

There was only one dish that did not strike the right chord for me. I felt the modified okonomiyaki was bland and the corn tortilla did not do it for me. it just did not reach the same heights as the other dishes. In fairness, I love traditional okonomiyaki. Also, I would have liked to see a salad on the menu. 






To think about

I think people may find brunch expensive. I believe this is the third priciest brunch in the city. I think fewer courses could facilitate a drop to around 600AED  which brings it more in line with competition. There does not have to be a compromise on quality. In fact, there should not be a decline in the quality of food - this is something I respect most about 99 Sushi Bar. We are still incredibly price sensitive here. Secondly, I think a brunch vibe would be great. I want to see more fun. You know, what people want at a brunch over and above great food, is fun. Finally, chefs moving around - now that I like. It is interactive. Bring the kitchen to the table. The one downside about a set menu is that there are no surprises. You know what to expect. It is possible to add a  surprise element by thrilling the guest with a pass around or two. Unexpected joy. 


Mitsuki trying a  mocktail


Verdict

A brunch in progress. But what I already see is fantastic. When an 11 year old says she really loved the brunch experience and at this point the brunch for me is mainly about the dishes and drinks, then you know you have something special.  Service is slick, from the moment the hostess greets you and seats you to the time the waiter or waitress takes over - expect very well trained. Notwithstanding my concern about the price point, it is still marvelous value for money because you are unlikely to find the level of ingredient quality at many brunches in the city. I can think of maybe two other brunches. But overall, it is simply a  bit of tweaking in places to take a very good brunch to another level.

Essentials


99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant, (opposite Cafe Milano, but this is not a Four Seasons restaurant)
Al Maryah Island, 
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 672 3333
99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant


Soft drinks 399AED
Sparkling wine and premium drinks 499AED
Champagne and premium drinks 699AED




Brandon Stoltenkamp
https://instagram.com/bmstoltenkamp/

Disclaimer: I was invited by 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant to try the brunch. 

Comments

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