Friday brunch at Morimoto

A lively Friday brunch with unlimited sushi

Friday brunch at Morimoto
Friday brunch at Morimoto Image #2

When world-famous Japanese restaurant chain Morimoto landed in Dubai’s Business Bay last year, a ripple of excitement went around the city’s foodies.

From famed chef Masaharu Morimoto – who is well known for his appearances on Iron Chef in both Japan and America – much hype surrounded the opening.

Of the Zuma, Nobu ilk (though not quite up to their lofty heights based on our previous visits) the restaurant launched a brunch nearing the end of 2018 and we couldn’t wait to check it out.

The massive restaurant in the Renaissance Downtown Hotel seats more than 200 people – and looks even bigger by daylight.

However, we’re assured by the team that it won’t feel too vast during brunch, despite hosting only a handful of diners when we arrive.

Set on the 23rd and 24th floors of the Business Bay hotel, the room is flooded with natural light thanks to huge windows that afford views out across the city. It’s an impressive venue, and décor is simple and stripped back, with plenty of dark wood and Japanese furnishings.

We’re whisked to the bar for a pre-brunch drink, as is the trend, and sip inventive mixed beverages, some with a Japanese twist, while we wait for the vibe (and numbers) to pick up in the main dining room.

And by the time we swivel around on our bar stools, the room has filled considerably.

It’s a mixed crowd – and anything goes. There are tourists, residents, large groups celebrating birthdays and couples out for a Friday lunch date.

Morimoto feels a lot more casual than some fancy restaurants, there are no pretentions or rules here it seems, and there’s everything from shorts to smart dresses being given an outing.

Service is slick, friendly and efficient, some of the best we’ve encountered at a brunch, and our glasses and plates are kept topped up throughout. And for Dhs499 including sparkling, it’s decent value for a brunch of this calibre.

The afternoon kicks off with a visit to the live stations. On one side of the room there’s an extensive sushi display, while the other houses tempura, tacos, soups and salads.

We head to the vibrant raw counter and pile our plate high with a variety of sushi (we need to test it all in the name of research, of course) and it’s all delicious, especially the tender nigiri.

The highlight of the fried bar (as we’ll call it) is the light, crispy coconut shrimp. We can’t help heading back for seconds, and wish it was served on the normal evening menu all the time. Tuna tacos are delicately flavoured and not too greasy, while there are also some tasty spring rolls and spinach and tofu dim sum.

Mains are served to the table and include black cod (decent, but not the best we’ve had) and steak (fatty and a bit of a let-down). The highlight is the angry chicken. Not as spicy as the name might suggest (we’d venture mildly irritated, rather than raging), this is a beautiful, superbly tender and fragrant main.

If you have room, there’s a giant platter of fresh fruit and mochi to round it all off with.

The vibe picks up as the brunch goes on, with trays of short measures brought around to the tables. It’s not exactly a party, but it’s lively enough and a lot of fun.

And once you’ve had your fill, you can head out to the terrace to finish off your drinks, and enjoy some stunning Burj views.

It might not rival the big guns, but for super-fresh sushi, top views and a friendly vibe, it delivers a fine Friday afternoon.
Dhs350 (soft drinks), Dhs499 (house beverages), Dhs650 (bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Renaissance Downtown Hotel Dubai, Business Bay (04 512 5577).

A lively Friday brunch with unlimited sushi

To try a restaurant from a top chef at a decent price

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