Friday brunch at Sho Cho Abu Dhabi

Review: A budget brunch that lacks pizzazz but has some decent Japanese dishes

DETAILS: Dhs150 (soft drinks), Dhs240 (house beverages). Friday noon-4pm. Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Bain Al Jessrain (02 558 1117).

We’re sitting in Sho Cho on a Friday afternoon for the second time in a matter of weeks, because this is what we do here at Time Out. Why? Because the first time we were here, the experience was so poor we wanted to come back to give the place another go and hope it made amends.

Thankfully for Sho Cho, our stomachs, and any of you that decide to eat here, this second visit isn’t a disaster, but it’s not spectacular, either.

It’s pretty empty when we arrive, and the restaurant doesn’t have much of an atmosphere until more people turn up, but staff offer a warm welcome and the terrace, overlooking the Grand Canal, is a nice spot.

The décor is a little dated, reminding us of a 1990s bar in Ibiza, all brilliant white tables and chairs. Or, they would have been brilliant white when it opened all those years ago. Now they’re worn around the edges and approaching grey.

One reason this brunch is worth your consideration is the price. Dhs150 for the soft drinks package and Dhs240 for house beverages is about as good as you’ll find, and perhaps one of the reasons most of the Friday diners are with family.

The menu has different, higher prices on, however, but the bill comes in at Dhs150 a head (and that includes
a variety of mocktails).

The set menu is all brought to the table and dishes can be reordered if you like (with the exception of the main course (there’s a choice of lobster, beef, chicken or vegetables in a teriyaki or yellow chilli sauce).

It starts with edamame beans in a chilli sauce. They’re good and are quickly followed up by prawn gyoza and prawns in filo pastry. The former are great, the latter not so much. Salads of breaded calamari (too many leaves, soggy breadcrumbs) and sesame carrot (much more like it) follow, along with salmon sashimi (sliced too thinly), tuna tartare (very good), and ceviche (a disconcerting brownish colour).

Forgettable nigiri and California rolls are up next along with tempura rock prawns that could do with being crispier.
We barely touch the mains. The beef in yellow chilli sauce is well-done rather than the medium-rare we asked for, and all the tougher for it, and the dry chicken is in a cloying teriyaki rather than the sauce we had ordered. It’s a rare blip during an otherwise alert service, and they do offer to rectify matters.

Dessert comes in the form of a single mochi, which seems a little stingy, but is perfectly fine.

For Dhs150 this brunch represents decent value, but it’ll hardly blow your socks off.

The bottom line

Okay but could do with freshening up.

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