Lovely setting and super food, but let down by surly service
Time Out Dubai staff
Ten minutes in, and with only one other occupied table in Toko’s stunning garden, we’re wondering what’s taking the team of waiters so long to ask us what we’re doing here. We’re at the newly revamped Toko Downtown for brunch, but no-one seems to care too much.
When we do manage to get someone’s attention, they don’t really know what the brunch is all about either. There’s a single-page menu, with a handful of courses (from snacks to raw and to dim sum, moving on to barbecue and, as is customary, finishing with desserts).
The waiter also doesn’t know if we’re served all the food (there are a few options in each section) or if we need to order the dishes we want. To keep us busy while they find out, we’re brought two miso soups. Between three.
It turns out the food is brought out in waves, all to share, and we don’t need to do any ordering.
If this all seems very negative, that’s because the experience, up to now, has been. But once the food comes, things pick up.
A salmon sashimi salad, with zesty yuzu dressing, is the first thing that blows us away. If only there was more of it. In fact, we’re being served the same amount of food for three people as the table of two next to us.
We chance our arm at re-ordering some dishes, which works, but the portioning of sharing dishes when there’s an odd number of guests is a problem that persists at this kind of brunch across the city. Toko shouldn’t be singled out, at least we can order more.
Another standout dish arrives at this point – the crispy duck salad. The meat is rich and tender and sits among some greens well dressed with hoi sin and pomegranate seeds. We order it four times.
Maki rolls also hit the spot. Of the barbecue dishes, we love the beef fillet, diced and mixed with egg fried rice, snow peas and peppers.
Service perks up around the halfway point, as if someone has reminded the guys to be friendly. We also get a description of how the brunch works at this point. Better late than never, of course.
It means we end the afternoon on a high note, with our fill of food (especially after chomping on assorted moshi) and our drinks recharged. Dhs190 (soft drinks), Dhs325 (sparkling grape). Vida Downtown Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard (04 442 8383).
The Bottom Line Top-notch food, but the service needs some work.