x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Restaurant review: Watatsumi in Le Méridien Mina Seyahi serves Far East feast at a great price

At Le Meridien Mina Seyahi's Japanese restaurant, great food reassuringly doesn’t come at greatly inflated prices.

Watatsumi specialises in Japanese cuisine. Courtesy Watatsumi
Watatsumi specialises in Japanese cuisine. Courtesy Watatsumi

You’d probably be hard-pressed to remember the last time you had a three-course meal for two people in one of the country’s leading hotels for less than Dh600. Well, at Watatsumi restaurant in Le Méridien Mina Seyahi, great food reassuringly doesn’t come at greatly inflated prices. For a mere Dh340, my dining companion and I whiled away three leisurely hours on the hotel’s leafy terrace sampling the house’s modern Japanese cuisine.

Keen to try a little bit of all the best starters, we opted for the shared appetiser set. The presentation was top-notch and a large carved platter was laid before us with a selection of prawn harumaki (spring rolls), ebi tempura, chicken yakitori and grilled oyster. Far and away the best, however, were the gyoza – freshly made and packed with either marinated chicken or succulent Wagyu beef. All were accompanied by a duo of dipping sauces, the sweet chilli and soy sauce one being so good that we had to ask for more.

We carried the sharing concept through to our entrees and each picked a favourite from the menu. A committed sea-vegetable convert, I chose the sashimi salad with seaweed and mixed leaves for a main, though it could also be ordered as a starter. It was a glorious sight when it arrived, with a huge mound of emerald leaves topped off with strings of daikon (white radish) and ruby-red beetroot. A generous selection of salmon and white fish sashimi sat in neat rolls around the rim of the large serving bowl, sprinkled with salmon roe. Fresh, filling and deliciously drizzled in yuzu and garlic sauce, the dish disappeared at lightning speed.

My friend settled upon beef teriyaki for her main course and we wondered whether our differing cooking preferences might prove a challenge for the kitchen. It turned out not, and the dish was swiftly served with half the beef well-done for my friend, the other half medium-rare for me.

My companion devoured her portion with gusto, rating the sweet-sticky sauce highly, whereas I thought the dish could have done with a little refining. The rib-eye cut was quite tough, perhaps not marinated long enough, and melt-in-the-mouth fillet slivers would have probably worked better.

Then there were the sides: a clean and crunchy homemade coleslaw, which worked perfectly, and a potato salad that looked distinctly out of place on the plate. That said, the odd accompaniment didn’t have any great bearing on the meal and I ordered an extra side of yasai itamae – expertly teppanyaki-style stir-fried vegetables, which went down a treat.

With the meal nearly over and the humidity rising, for dessert we only had eyes for ice cream and sorbet. From the long list of options we chose cream of coconut, pear and cocoa; the shared plate of three boulles proving plenty.

All in all, I would highly recommend Watatsumi if you’re watching what you spend or looking for a low-calorie bite before you head out to one of the livelier hot spots in the Dubai Marina. The service is exceptional and our server even thoughtfully hid a can of mosquito repellent in the plant pots behind us, just in case we fell prey to any insects buzzing around.

My advice would be to book a table before the summer arrives and, despite the fear of bug bites, I would definitely opt to sit outside. The restaurant’s interior has more of a corporate feel and the AC is set to freezing. Admittedly, the low-seated sushi bar is ideal for a quick work lunch, but the imposing high-walled central banquette makes the restaurant feel smaller than it is and obscures the view for some diners. The terrace, on the other hand, had the opposite effect and much more of a relaxed-resort feel, with the sound of tennis being played on one side and the very muted – we promise – beats from Barasti on the other.

• A meal for two at Watatsumi, Le Méridien Mina Seyahi, Dubai Marina costs Dh340. For reservations, call 04 399 3373 or go to www.watatsumi.ae. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and conducted incognito

rduane@thenational.ae