After a busy week here at Time Out Towers, we like nothing more than a well-earned lie-in on a Friday to recharge the batteries for the weekend.
As most brunches start at noon or thereabouts, we were delighted to discover that this new option has a later kick-off time of 3pm.
So, well-rested, we head up to Sofitel Dubai Downtown to test out Shanghai Grand Brunch – which is only in its third week – at the French hotel’s Japanese eatery Wakame.
Although we arrive early – eager and peckish beavers – we are greeted with a warm smile and showed to our table in the super-stylish dining room. As the first through the door, we decide to pull up a chair at the bar, grab a drink and let our waiter for the day (a charming South African called Felix) explain what’s in store.The concept is pretty simple, but the food is far from it. You have an unlimited choice of the house dim sum and maki, with two options for dessert.
Our first round of dim sum is, thanks to the tantalisingly tasty flavours served up, swiftly followed by a second.
Of the six dishes on offer, it really is a tricky task to pick a favourite. While the crispy chicken prawn moneybags
are a crunchy delight, the chicken soup dumpling and the salmon, cream cheese and chilli options are so delicate it almost feels like bullying to disturb them.
However, if we were to put our lunch money on it, the prawn, scallop and mushroom siu mai, along with the butternut, spinach, feta and pine nut, would rule the roost thanks to the controlled explosions of flavour they produce.
It would be easy at this point to order another round, but having heard about chef Lloyd Roberts’ maki mastery, we feel it would be rude not to take the feast to the next level.
That decision proves entirely spot on, as within minutes, we’re served a superb selection of rolls that taste even better than they look.
Never having been a big fan of eel, especially not of the jellied variety, it’s with slight reluctance that we sample the dragon roll. Such misgivings prove entirely unfounded, though, as the combination of the freshwater eel, avocado, roasted almonds, tobico, cucumber and teriyaki sauce is finely balanced and very well executed.
The rock ’n’ roll proves another hit, with the spicy tuna giving a fantastic kick that lingers long on the tongue.
But that is just the support act, with the firecracker roses undoubtedly the headliner. The ingredients of chopped spicy salmon, tempura crumb and salmon roe are so finely in tune that we can’t help but want to return for an encore.
Before the lights go out on the brunch, though, make sure you try some of the mochi selection that includes such delights as black sesame, matcha and adzuki bean – the perfect way to sign off.
If the food doesn’t entertain you at Wakame, then VJ Gaby surely will, with his funky mix of classic tracks that are bound to keep the celebratory atmosphere going.
Perhaps, in that case, we’re lucky there are two birthday parties present on our visit. It means any post-work fatigue dissipates immediately and even outsiders such as we are encouraged to join in the celebrations as the tunes just keep on coming. And thanks to the keenness of the staff to make sure every single guest feels at home and has their glasses topped up, it’s impossible to leave the place without a huge grin streaking across your face. We’re delighted that Wakame is far from mardy.
Dhs195 (soft drinks), Dhs295 (house beverages). Fri 3pm-6pm. 3rd Floor, Sofitel Dubai Downtown, (04 224 6663).
The Bottom Line
The perfect choice for late starters with a sublime selection of dim sum, maki and mochi that will leave you coming back for more…