x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sushi in style at Armani/Hashi

The Japanese spot Armani/Hashi is one of Dubai's very best-kept brunch secrets.

The open kitchen at Armani/Hashi in Burj Khalifa, Dubai. Courtesy Armani
The open kitchen at Armani/Hashi in Burj Khalifa, Dubai. Courtesy Armani

As a diehard fan of Japanese food, and a UAE resident for nearly six years, it was somewhat remiss of me not to have patronised Armani/Hashi before now. Having opened three years ago at the Armani Hotel, by Dubai standards, it’s an oldie. Whether it was a goldie, however, remained to be seen. Hence, I booked a table for two at a Friday brunch.

With certain preconceived ideas about dining at an Armani establishment, I donned suitably sober, chic threads for the occasion. I needn’t have bothered because, as my dining companion (wearing an electric blue cocktail dress) anticipated, the atmosphere was vibrant and the service anything but stuffy.

No sooner had we stepped inside the venue then a hearty cry of “Hello and welcome!” rang out from behind the iced-sushi bar. We were, as was every subsequent diner, greeted by the charismatic head chef Jin Chul, whose passion for people turned out to be matched by his passion for contemporary Japanese cuisine.

Had it not been blowing a gale, we would have opted to sit outside on the expansive terrace, with its unfettered views of fountain displays every 30 minutes. We, nevertheless, could see the water from our table inside which was refreshingly set sans cutlery – just chopsticks – and classically understated Armani crockery and glassware.

We wasted no time in tucking into the vast selection of buffet starters and both rated the salmon nori confit with truffle sour cream the best in class. The ribboned seaweed salad proved the perfect accompaniment and the red bean curd dumplings went down a treat with my guest.

A seafood and sushi platter followed, with bluefin toro upstaging melt-in-the-mouth sea urchin and pearly white scallop sashimi.

Scoring extra brownie points was the surprise delivery of both normal and gluten-free soy sauces to the table. More carefully tailored menu options followed, with Chilean sea bass and, my particular favourite, seared tenderloin, swiftly set before us in decent-sized portions.

Already sated and not desperately craving something sweet, we were a tad reluctant to tackle the many tempting dessert options, which included sesame nougatine chocolate mousse and lemon grass creme brûlée.

As he did his round of the tables and arrived at ours, Chef Chul was having none of it and insisted we sample his contemporary take on a classic cheesecake.

Japanese it wasn’t, but delicious it certainly was.

Almost too pretty to eat, wrapped in a ribbon of white chocolate and topped off with paper-thin caramel snaps, a light passion-fruit cheesecake lurked beneath.

Though we had eaten more than our fill, we left the restaurant feeling there was still much to explore upon a second visit. Time simply didn’t permit sampling the array of dishes available at the robatayaki and teppanyaki stations.

More experimental options such as the jelly fish appetisers and crabmeat porridge would also surely top the list next time around.

If any minor criticism of the food could be levied, it would come down to popping candy. The refreshing yuzu cleanser we were served between courses was indeed a nice touch, yet its topping of sweet crackling confectionery somewhat defeated its purpose.

Apart from that, I would highly recommend Hashi as a sophisticated spot for a birthday celebration, family or even corporate get-together. I would say it remains one of Dubai’s very best kept brunch secrets and while not overly crowded, it clearly has a loyal following. The couple seated at the table next to ours not only live in the Armani residences above the restaurant, but dine there every week, staff proudly informed me.

Just one word to the wise – upon arrival in Burj Khalifa’s lobby, ask staff to escort you through the labyrinthine corridors and well disguised lifts to get to Hashi. Without a trail or breadcrumbs to follow, you may well find yourself on something of a stylish detour.

 

• Brunch at Armani/Hashi costs Dh350 per person (soft drinks) and Dh450 (house beverages), excluding service. For reservations, call 04 888 3444. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and all reviews are conducted incognito

 

rduane@thenational.ae

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