“Sushi was originally a quick snack that has grown over the years into an art form and luxury dining experience.” The Galleria Magazine
Japanese restaurant 99 Sushi Bar is quite the sophisticated affair. This comes as no surprise considering its location and its neighbouring establishments such as Nusr-et and La Petite Maison that make up The Galleria’s upscale Dining Collection. This restaurant is not only the first of its kind to open in the Middle East but also the first venture outside its native Spain (not from Japan as you might expect) with the other venues located in Madrid and Barcelona.
The decor is plush, a blend of black, red and plenty of gold. The bold decoration starts from the outside where water cascades down a glass wall, continues through into the separate bar area, the swanky restaurant and out onto the waterfront terrace, even the bathrooms are very fancy if not a little dark. The statement colour scheme may be a talking point but it’s the food that really gets the conversation started. High-end Japanese ‘haute-cuisine’ with a modern twist and what better way to sample lots of dishes than at a sharing style Saturday brunch.
The Zeitaku (zeitaku meaning luxury/extravagance in English) brunch promises diners a journey of Japanese culinary delights. Devised by Spanish Executive Chef Alvaro Reyes and his team, the brunch delivers plate after plate of beautifully presented creations on very covetable ceramics. It’s all about the taste, the textures and the visual, an eleven course a la carte selection that gives you a good insight into the restaurant’s menu. The brunch kicked off with hosomaki and edamame followed by okonomiyaki, the chefs take on a cold pizza made with fried tortilla.
Next up is fatty tuna tacos served on a flat yoki nori and designed to be scooped up by hand (a flavoursome veggie option was also served that had a delicious sauce). Then followed tiger prawn tempura with its secret homemade spicy sauce, spicy tuna tartar, temptsuyu maki with salmon fillet, salmon roe topped with flaked tuna and panko mistura roll with prawn, king crab and sea bass.
Four varieties of nigiris were then served; butterfish with truffle, fatty tuna, salmon flambe with lime and scallop that wasere devoured. An indulgent fatty tuna topped with smoked beef bacon and a quail egg came next before the savoury finale of skirt steak, tender strips of steak served with galangal (similar to ginger but with a more sharp citrusy flavor) sauce.
Restaurants that specialise in sushi are not usually the first choice for vegetarians but the chefs at 99 Sushi Bar rose to the challenge and produced an equivalent number of courses for us non-meat/seafood eating guests. Yes, there may have been some repetition but nonetheless I was impressed by their resolve to create a selection of veggie options using avocado, kiwi and mango among the usual edamame, rice and seaweed. The vegetable tempura and miso eggplant were particularly notable as was the aforementioned taco.
Japanese desserts are an acquired taste unless like one of our fellow diners you love mochi. While he tucked into the duo of ice cream covered in colourful sweet moulded rice shells that arrived in the midst of dry ice, we tried the cheesecake with black sesame biscuit and topped with a smear of truffle which was a slight disappointment, personal preference and all that.
Most of the tables around us had opted for the champagne package and the bubbles are definitely free-flowing with the attentionve staff continuously topping up glasses. We tried the cocktails and mocktails that like the food were well presented. Post-eating guests are encouraged to kick back and enjoy drinks on the terrace while enjoying the sounds of the live saxophonist and watching the sun sets across Al Maryah Island.
The attention to detail at 99 Sushi Bar is superb, the concept may hail from Spain but it’s Japanese through and through without an air of fusion in sight. The cuisine, the service and the decor are classy which is inevitably going to be reflected in the cost so the Zeitaku Brunch is a great way to try lots of signature dishes and beverages in one sitting for a set price. Time will tell if the restaurant’s popularity will reach the same dizzy heights are its closest counterpart Zuma, from first impressions it will certainly give them a run for their money.
99 Sushi Bar
Location: Level 2, The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi
Telephone: 02 672 3333
Zeitaku Brunch – Saturday 1:00pm – 5:30pm. AED 399 (soft package), AED 499 (bubbles and premium house beverages) and AED 699 (champagne and sake)
I was invited to the Zeitaku Brunch. All the views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2018. All rights reserved.