We firmlt believe that eating your way through a fabulous brunch is generally the best possible use of your Friday afternoon (and evening, if you haven’t collapsed into a total food coma by 4pm).
But now that we’re into the season when the weather is consistently tremendous, we sometimes want to spend our weekend afternoons topping up our tans, exercising outdoors (mainly to make room for more brunches, obvs) and generally exploring the amazing city we live in.
This means we’re all about evening brunches right now, and we had very high hopes for the Saturday-night offering at KOI.
Featuring dim lighting, trailing vine leaves and geometric patterns on the walls, the dining room at this Japanese eatery is certainly cool. However, with palm trees, sparkling fairy lights and comfortable soft booths, the outdoor area just about tops it.
The set menu concept means the only decisions we have to make are what we want to drink, and whether or not we want our miso soup to be spicy.
Service is quick and incredibly efficient. It means that we’ve only nibbled through a couple of the edamame beans when the three salads arrive at the table.
We almost instantly single out the fried calamari dish as our favourite. The crunchy rings are joined by fresh, crispy lettuce leaves and a creamy and mild soy yuzu and almond dressing. The bowls of chicken with baby gem lettuce and Indonesian gado gado are also tasty and full of fresh ingredients.
It’s a healthy start, but we can see from the detailed menu that there’s much more to come. We vow to try and pace ourselves.
The wagyu beef tataki is joined by an almost overpoweringly strong mushroom and ponzu sauce, which fortunately doesn’t mask the staggeringly high-quality of the meat. Meanwhile, the salmon carpaccio is delicately flavoured with truffle oil, and the prawn spring rolls with hoisin sauce are an effective palate cleanser.
As predicted, the sushi is the best bit.Prepared at the open sushi counter, each of the maki rolls is different, interesting and far from ordinary. Even the classic Californian is a cut above what we’re used to, and the constrasting textures in the fried white fish with avocado roll are sensational.
The sashimi platter is also fantastic, and it takes great restraint to not order another round (the starters can be repeated as many times as you would happen to like).
The tempura shrimp features a light batter and creamy sauce with just the right amount of spice. It’s an unexpected highlight, and the fried chicken is far less KFC-esque than it sounds, too.
Then, having gone past an excellent sufficiency many plates ago, we’re finally on to the mains. The Thai green curry is
a little watery for our liking, but the sticky rice goes brilliantly with the spicy stir-fried beef, huge sweet and sour prawns (nothing like the greasy takeaway you might be imagining) and teriyaki salmon. We barely have room for more than a few mouthfuls of the nasi goreng, which comes neatly topped with a perfectly cooked fried egg.
The four desserts (sticky toffee pudding, white chocolate mousse, mango ice cream and coconut tapioca) aren’t as impressive as the savoury options, but it means we end the night on a sweet and creamy high.
WHAT IS IT...
A table service Saturday-evening brunch at classy Japanese restaurant KOI
To end your weekend with brilliant sushi, moreish tempura shrimps and all-round good vibes
Dhs340 (soft drinks), Dhs455 (house beverages), Dhs495 (sparkling), Dhs595 (bubbly). Sat 7.30pm-10.30pm. The Collection at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort (02 678 3334).