Toko at Vida Downtown – which looks like a high-end underground den straight out of Tokyo- needs no introduction, as it’s one of the most popular Sushi spots in Dubai; and was even on Kimmy K’s list of places worthy of consuming cals at when in Dubai. They have introduced a Night Brunch (cleverly named “Yugure”, which is Japanese for Twilight) on Tuesdays, where one can indulge in a set menu of Japanese street food.
This was one “brunch” I was really looking forward to, as the price was reasonable, variety was promised, but unlike buffets -which initially excite you with the visible variety- I knew I wouldn’t be piling my plate with random items cooked in bulk, that make no cohesive sense once plated or eaten together.
The brunch costs AED 195 per person (with soft driinks); is a sharing concept and a minimum of two people need to purchase it.
The set menu for two includes:
- Edamame, because who doesn’t love edamame?
- Green Curry prawn soup– this was one of the best soups we’ve had, ever. It was incredibly perfect: light, clear, and comforting with a lot of depth to the broth; and I can only wish to be able to make broth like that someday.
- Crispy Pecking Duck Salad with Watercress and Herbs: The pecking Duck in this was simply stunning. It was melt-in-your-mouth tender on the inside, crispy on the outside, and was perfectly paired with acidity from pomegranate seeds, crunch from the cashews and green of the watercress. All this was tied together with hoisin sauce.
- Raw Green Papaya Salad: No, it’s nothing like Som Tam. It’s sweeter, less spicy, but delicious nonetheless.
- Chicken Yakitori: I could really taste the char on these little skewers of chicken- which is something I’m fond of.
- Home-style Vegetable Spring Rolls: These were exactly what they sound like- home style. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at Toko i’d much rather prefer to eat something I can’t make at home.
- Black Cod and Prawn Fish Cakes with Smoked Red Chili relish: When it comes to “cakes”, be it potato, fish or crab, they can either pack a lot of flavor or be sadly underwhelming. The Black Cod & Prawn cakes yesterday were, luckily, a case of the former. They were extremely fragrant with lemongrass, and were as good as a savory cake can get.
- Sushi selection: True to Toko’s usual standards, the sushi was fresh and delicious, as always. My favorite was the one with smoked salmon and cream cheese.
- Salmon Tartare: WOW. Absolutely loved the punch of Wasabi this packed.
- Snapper Ceviche: A medley of cubed snapper, sweet potato, toasted sweet corn, julienned shallots swimming in a citrusey blend of orange and lemon; this one was truly savored by M and myself!
- Tuna Tacos: the cutest little raw tuna tacos; these made me lean back and really revel in that moment I had these grace my tastebuds with sheer deliciousness. These were simply WOW.
The drink I chose was called Kuga, which promised flavors of Aloe Vera, mint, yuzu tea, elderflower and citrus; and it delivered, oh it delivered well. It tasted just as complex and sophisticated as it sounded. M had a Shoga Biru, which was a home-brewed, lime-smoked ginger beer (non-alcoholic, of course) and it packed a VERY strong punch of ginger- which of course he loved. So, win for the drinks.
The Dimsum round was sharp downfall from the sky-high bar set by the appetizer round. It was, sadly, mediocre at best. The best (or the only good) thing in the Dimsum basket was the Chicken Char Siew Pau– it was a really good Pau; not overly sweet and packed with a good amount of filling.
For the main course, there were four Nikuman sliders to choose from. Each person can choose any of these options, and expect three sliders (per person) of said option. For the sake of the review, I asked to try all four and received one slider for each variant.
- Braised Beef & Pickles (a little too salty for my liking)
- Soft Shell Crab with wasabi mayo (couldn’t taste the wasabi and it was very dry)
- Barbeque duck and cucumbers (tasted nice but the duck was extremely tough and chewy)
Also, I’m generally not a fan of the Nikuman bread/buns.
- Japanese Angus Burger– Bingo. This. This is what you need to order. Why order an Angus burger in a Japanese restaurant, when you can get it in 387643986 other places? Because it was just THAT good. Melt-in-your mouth ground Angus beef+ wasabi mayo+ dill pickle = major regret over why I didn’t just order SIX of these instead. I cannot stress enough over how insanely good these were. The fact that the bun was black (squid ink, perhaps?), just furthered the awesomeness by giving these little bad boys a sinister look.
The dessert was one of my most favorite desserts in the world: Mochi ice-cream. I WAS really bummed out by the fact that there were only two Mochis, one strawberry and one pistachio, each cut in half. That just isn’t enough for someone with as sweet a tooth as mine. Could I have asked for more? I’m not sure. I just took it as a reminder that I need to cut back and remember the digits on the scale that make me cry; so I just ended my meal with a hot cup of green tea instead. Either way, it was GOOD Mochi.
Altogether, it was a well thought-out and cohesive menu, and was perfectly portioned for two (still would have liked more dessert though, *crying face*). Good value for money if you’re a quality over quantity person. Highly recommended.
Disclaimer: I was invited to do this review but I can safely say that i received no special treatment and my review as usual is unbiased.