Place: Renaissance Downtown Hotel
AED 350(Soft beverages)
AED 499 (House beverages)
AED 650 (Bubbly)
Timings: 12.30pm- 4.00pm
“Cook more often. Don’t study; just cook” – Masaharu Morimoto
I remember watching in awe episode after episode of Iron Chef America, and dreaming of the opportunity to be at the judges table to taste all the mouthwatering dishes created by extremely talented chefs (please do yourself a favor and watch the show). My favorite Iron Chefs were Chef Morimoto and Chef Batali.
After a shoulder injury ended a promising career as a baseball catcher in Japan, Morimoto began studying sushi in his hometown of Hiroshima. At age 24, opened his first restaurant. Five years later, he moved to America to expand his culinary repertoire and was recruited to join the original Nobu restaurant and soon promoted to Executive Chef. Chef Morimoto first competed on Japanese television show Iron Chef in 1998 and then became one of the celebrity chefs of Food Network’s Iron Chef America in 1999.
Chef Morimoto opened his first restaurant in Philadelphia in 2001. He has since expanded his brand into a global culinary powerhouse with restaurants in: New York, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Maui, Napa, Boca Raton New Dehli, Mumbai, Tokyo, Dubai and Doha.
Therefore, I was extremely excited to hear about Chef Morimoto’s new venture in Dubai.
The restaurant is located on the 23rd and 24th floor of Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai. Its expansive space comprises of 250 restaurant seats as well as a lounge, large bar area, teppanyaki, sushi counter, three private dining rooms and four outdoor terraces, including private access terraces with views of the Burj Khalifa.
The kitchen serves a contemporary Japanese menu infuses traditional dishes with Western ingredients and preparation techniques.
The brunch is based entirely on the lower floor and is split into a cold starter’s station, hot starters station, and mains served to the table.
Cold Starters station:
- Selection of sashimi: seared Toro, salmon, eel, tuna, Hamachi
- Selection of nigiri: turn, salmon, Hamachi, shrimp
- Selection of maki rolls: soft shell crab roll, shrimp tempura roll, California roll, spicy tuna roll
- Salmon poke, Tuna poke
- Salmon ceviche, Sea bream ceviche
Unlike some other restaurants that serve sushi for brunch, the quality of fish was top notch and everything tasted delicious.
Hot Starters station:
- Hamachi tacos
- Spicy tuna tacos
- Tuna pizza
- Shrimp tempura
- Karaage chicken
- Spring rolls
- Crispy lamb ribs
- Chicken ramen soup
My personal favorites were the tuna tacos and the crispy lamb ribs. Again, the quality of all the ingredients was top notch.
- Braised black cod with ginger-soy reduction
- Grilled steak signature with sweet onion garlic jus
- Angry chicken: marinated half chicken with roasted peppers
Usually I avoid eating chicken as a main at restaurants, as I consider it a “boring” protein. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the chicken main that was unbelievably soft and delicious.
The Beverage options are as follows:
- Beer: Peroni (bottled)
- Wines: White, Red, Rose, Sparkling (Chilean wines)
- Spirits: (Gin, Rum, Vodka, Whiskey, Saki).
- Cocktails: Selection of 6 cocktails including: espresso martini, bloody Mary, gin bramble, mojito.
Although the cocktails were decent, they did not quite match the high notes of the food, especially keeping the price point in mind. Additionally the bar is blatantly understaffed, so the drinks take a long time to arrive.
The quality of service matches the quality of the food, and I was especially pleased with the chefs accommodating all our special requests (gluten-free options, larger portions) and making a genuine effort to make sure we all left happy and with full stomachs.
The major letdown of this otherwise excellent brunch is the ever-elusive “good ambiance”/ “good vibes”. The space is massive and on both occasions that we visited, it was half-empty. The music is played after brunch on the outside terrace (on our second visit there was no DJ at all). For the regular brunch crowd of Dubai (defined as a minimum of 1 brunch per month) brunch is not only about eating & drinking, but more importantly about having fun. Fun typically involves music, dancing, singing and drinking games. Overall, the atmosphere is quite bland.
At a “wallet burning” AED 500 per head, Morimoto definitely needs to revamp the brunch experience, and reevaluate their pricing should they want to attract regular guests.
Value for Money: 10/20.