Zeitaku Brunch at 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant

A classy Friday brunch for sushi lovers

Zeitaku Brunch at 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant

DETAILS: Dhs299 (soft drinks), Dhs399 (sparkling), Dhs499 (bubbly). Fri 1pm-sunset. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 672 3333).

This is not the first time we’ve written about the brunch at 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant in these pages, but a switch from Saturday to Friday and the introduction of some new dishes to the set menu is enough to tempt us back. That, and we absolutely loved it the first time around.

The dining room only holds about 50 people, and on this occasion it’s only roughly half full, but such is the chilled vibe and the layout of the room, it hardly matters to us diners. There’s a great atmosphere, helped by the music, sax player and excellent staff.

One of the big draws for this brunch is definitely its extended hours: it runs from 1pm until sunset (let’s say 5.30pm) and the staff aren’t in any hurry to throw you out then, either. It means we linger at the super bar area for a couple of drinks rather than having to dive straight into the feasting.

The opening salvo is the first indication we’re in for a pretty sophisticated afternoon as the expert mixologists whip us up a marvellous mocktail. The packages are pretty generous with plenty of mocktails included in the soft drinks version; sparkling grape, hops, grape and short drinks in the house package; and premium bubbly in the most expensive package (which is still less than Dhs500).

Once we move to the table we’re told the food will be served to us plate by plate, all eleven courses of it. If it sounds overhwelming, don’t worry, it’s not. Each course is just the right amount and is an exercise in restraint. Only the absolutely necessary flavours and ingredients are used.

From the opening tuna pizza (we’ve raved about it previously, and rightly so) to the closing course of ice cream mochi, everything hits the spot.
The spicy tuna tartar is brilliant. The fatty fish is complemented perfectly by the sauce, and there’s a bit of crunch from the shoestring crisps to add texture. The deep-fried tempura prawns is another great dish.

You might expect the sushi here to be perfect, and you’d be right. The torched tuna with caviar, and salmon with lime nigiri (pictured) versions are stunning, as is a foie gras and raspberry option, which won’t be for everyone, but certainly works for us. A simple tuna hosomaki served early in the meal is brilliant, too.

A new course of scallops nigiri cooked two ways is very impessive but we could do without the soy-marinated chicken and mango maki roll, and the fatty tuna gunkan just isn’t as tasty as some of the other tuna dishes, though taken on its own merits is absolutely fine.

Gone is the “main course” of wagyu, but the quality and amount of sushi it’s replaced with more than makes up for it.

The first few courses come thick and fast, despite the leisurely dining time, so we ask our server to slow things down a little and we spend the next couple of hours making sure we really savour the food, dish by dish.

Once it’s all done, it’s time to retire to the terrace outside, where the drinks keep flowing as the sun is setting.

It’s an incredibly stylish, and serene, way to end a Friday brunch. Funch at Stars ’N’ Bars, this is not, so if you’re after a rowdy crowd and fun and games, head there instead.

But for anyone who appreciates the finer things in life and has a particular penchant for Japanese cuisine, this could be the brunch you’ve been waiting for.

A classy Friday brunch for sushi lovers

If we were to choose one course, it would be the four kinds of nigiri. Just perfect...

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