Chez Sushi by sho cho first came to my attention by way of the wasabi Kit Kat that it stocks. The quirky (and surprisingly nice) snack stuck in my mind and I decided to revisit the homegrown restaurant to see what else it had to offer.
Located in the new Al Wasl Square area, which is steadily building up a decent repertoire of restaurants and cafes – you’ll also find The Pantry and BookMunch here – Chez Sushi officially opened a few weeks ago.
The interior is young and fun, with a neon green theme running throughout; there are also maki roll and edamame bean cushions, bright tobiko lights and plenty of functional, wipe-clean tables. It feels playful and modern and this mood extends to the menu.
Chez Sushi’s primary unique selling point is that it offers customers the chance to create and customise their own rolls, choosing from brown or white rice, a large selection of fillings and various dressings, which are then put together to order. We decided to do exactly that, bumping up our meal with a variety of other dishes.
The menu is vast: in addition to those DIY options, it covers appetisers, side dishes, salads, bento boxes, main courses, more sushi, some sashimi and signature rolls. Not wanting to order too much (or indeed too little), we asked for help. Unfortunately neither of the waiting staff who looked after us were able to advise on how many items we should order or even the size of the main dishes.
So we struck out alone, ordered a selection of bits and pieces and sat back, waiting for them to arrive. Chez Sushi edamame (with soy, ginger and sesame) was served piping hot but had been overcooked; instead of tender nuggets with plenty of bite, the beans were properly mushy. The arrival of a little plate of chicken yakitori went some way towards remedying this rather disappointing start, though; the pieces of grilled meat were juicy, with a sweet-salty glaze and a smoky finish – lovely picking food.
Sadly, though, things then went downhill once more with the arrival of our tempura prawns. Rather than being light, airy and crisp, the batter was claggy, underseasoned and undercooked. The prawns, meanwhile, had a softness to them that I didn’t like at all.
We then segued into the sushi offerings. Our customised roll was filled with crab, avocado and mango and finished with a spicy ginger dressing; the result was a very tasty, clean and fresh-tasting roll, although the consistency of the rice felt a little off, being slightly soggy.
The last two dishes that arrived continued this roller coaster theme: tuna sashimi was generously portioned, smooth and flavourful, but the beef tataki featured tough, chewy meat that couldn’t be saved by the pleasant, punchy sesame-mustard -dressing.
All in all, a meal at Chez Sushi brought us a real mixed bag of dishes and despite enjoying some elements and appreciating the relaxed atmosphere, I left feeling pretty underwhelmed.
• A meal for two at Chez Sushi by sho cho, Al Wasl Square, Dubai, costs Dh253. For more information call 800 78744. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and all reviews are conducted incognito