While you will find sushi and sashimi bars at most multi-cuisine brunches, only a handful of restaurants do an authentic, all-Japanese brunch. The newly-opened SushiSan introduced its offering just last month, and at competitive prices compared to the rest of the brunch bunch.
The setup is simple. A set menu stretches across starters, soup, mains and desserts, and you can have unlimited portions.
The all-female staff welcomes us into the casual restaurant, that’s already buzzing with the DJ’s set list. It’s a small space – only about 50 covers – and its chilled-out vibe puts us at ease.
The first course includes bowls of steamed edamame and seaweed salad. Next, a salmon and tuna tartare is a refreshing combination of different textures, with the duo of fish tossed with crunchy red onion and cubed avocado.
A platter of batter-fried calamari rings and haru maki spring rolls are next in line. The squid rings are cooked well and tender to the bite. And we would have asked for seconds had they not been a touch too greasy. So, we turn our attention to the mushroom and vermicelli rolls, which are crisp and generously filled. Though once again, the oiliness of the dish spoils it somewhat.
As many as ten dishes make up the main course and the list has us feeling indecisive. There’s gunkan, sashimi, nigri, and we also spot dynamite shrimp and dumplings. In the end, we opt for a selection of sushi, seared tuna loin and the restaurant’s signature sushi rice burger.
As the afternoon progresses and more diners shuffle in, the staff lose focus and seem a bit all over the place, with our mains taking a while to arrive.
The sushi is tasty and rolled neatly, but doesn’t leave a lasting impression. After a long wait, our waitress serves the burger and tuna. A miso dressing and scattered sesame seeds top the tuna. It’s not an enticing plate, but the taste passes muster at least.
Usually the sushi burger can be ordered with a beef or chicken patty. The brunch, however, only offers chicken. We take one bite into it and detect something sweet. Raisins have been added to the slaw, to its detriment.
SushiSan puts a lot of food on the table. However, quality will always beat quantity. And, hopefully, with a few modifications, SushiSan will be able to find the right balance.
Dhs149 (soft drinks), Dhs199 (house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, Dhafeer Street (02 657 4888).
The bottom line
A lot of food for the price. But the menu choices need some fine-tuning.