It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of bold flavors, and since a good ceviche promises those, I was instantly sold the minute I heard about Waka Ceviche Tuesdays! FIVE ceviches and a drink, for AED 150… I just can’t get over that deal. Last Tuesday, M, my good friend Imane, and I headed to Waka because ceviche is life and this deal was too good to pass up on.
I went to Waka when they first opened, and I decided to quickly try them out before Ramadan started. You can read about that here. I went with my dear friend, Ionela, and haven’t been able to stop raving about Waka since then. Every time someone asks me where they should go for a nice meal with chilled out vibes, I instantly say Waka for dinner, or Play for brunch. From now on, I will specifically start adding Waka for Ceviche Tuesdays to my list of strong recomendations.
I must confess to a total First World Problem, but when one eats out as often as I do, very few places tend to stand out and stick around in one’s mind. My blogger friends and I often talk about how it’s funny that we have tried hundreds of restaurants in Dubai, but when the time comes to pick one to go back to, we momentarily blank out. Of the many dining experiences I’ve had in Dubai, and particularly in 2017, Waka is in the top 2, second only to The Experience by Reif Othman, and a place I would happily return to time and again and give them all my hard earned money! Yes, I am always pleased by Tresind and Carnival by Tresind as well, but by now I have come to expect a certain flavour profile from them, despite how fresh and ever-changing their menu is. Waka caught me off guard with every course, and Chef Roberto has my
tastebuds heart in his palm.
Although “ceviche” has been an overused trend in 2017, it’s one of my weaknesses and I just can’t get enough. And you know what’s better than one ceviche? Five. Make no mistakes though, I will never settle for a mediocre ceviche. All five of the ceviches we tried last Tuesday were absolutely, show-stoppingly phenomenal. Each and every ceviche we tried either had a completely different flavour profile, or had at least one distinct ingredient and flavour that set it apart from the others. I was truly, truly, in umami heaven.
Here’s what we had:
The first ceviche we had was the one that made me go back in the first place: the Del Mercado. With crispy calamari, seabass, sweet potato puree and big juicy kernels of white Peruvian corn along with smaller, crispier ones (called Cancha corn), all drowned in in Leche de tigre mixed with aji amarillo, I made sure to drink every last drop of this!
The second ceviche of the night was the Generoso. The menu tells you to expect crispy calamari, mixed seafood, and seaweed tempura. I’m not super crazy of seaweed and do have a strong radar for it,and I tasted no seaweed in this whatsoever. While I was pleased to not taste any seaweed, it might have been disappointing to someone who was expecting/looking forward to it, based on the description in the menu. The difference between this ceviche and the Del Mercado was very subtle. This one had Leche De Tigre blanca, while the previous one had Leche De Tigre Amarila.
The third ceviche we tried was not on the regular menu, and if I’m not mistaken, it’s called Huancaina. The Leche De Tigre for this was a little creamy, and I have an inkling that there was potato puree in there, but I may be wrong. The sauce was milder, milkier, and almost like a palate cleanser in between the otherwise bolder ceviches. The red tuile disintegrated when mixed in, and changed the color of the sauce too. I quite enjoyed the complexities and the plethora of ingredients in each dish; they allowed me to be completely submerged in the meal, and was almost like a therapeutic relief from the crazy busy week.
This one packed a ton of heat and I LOVED it. With two kinds of Leche De Tigre (Blanca and Ligera), this ceviche was actually vegetarian! The meaty oyster mushrooms left no room to desire any fish, and the almost neon green avocado, corriander and Serrano chili sauce made this dish look as vibrant as it tasted!
The fifth and last (but not the least) ceviche was the Sansei, the most distinct tasting of the lot, but surprisingly the flavour was so familiar that I was actually able to dissect and identify all the key ingredients. This tuna ceviche distinctly has soy sauce, yuzu,and sesame oil, amongst other secret ingredients, but these 3 really stuck out because I used those to make a dressing for my tuna tataki salad! The real (and unexpected) star of this dish was the sweet potato stuffed wonton on the side. It added a burst of sweetness to the dish that just elevated it to the next level. Utterly perfect. This was also the only ceviche without the crunchy kernels of corn.
Although 5 ceviches were quite enough to fill us up, our greed could not not be satiated, and so we tried a couple of other things off of the menu too. Everything we tried ranged from a scale of wow to wowza! I almost never order the same thing twice in a single sitting, but both M and Imane put their foot down and demanded a second round of the quinoa sliders. This might just have been the first time I ate quinoa and didn’t despise it. Heck, I enjoyed it!
My heart sank a little when this plate of scallops Tiradito arrived on our table, because by now I was completely blissed out on all 5 ceviches, and was afraid the scallops just couldn’t live up to the previous acts. Oh how wrong I was. Once again, completely different flavours, but just as pleasurable! We got some smokiness from the rocoto pepper puree, and a wonderful crunch from the toasted quinoa. Loved the play on textures.
Also, let the fact that I completely FORGOT to take pictures of the quinoa sliders bear testament to irresistible they were. What was great about them was that they weren’t so boldly spiced, so it was a nice palate cleanser of sorts and brought about some balance.
The Camarones a la piedra prawns were simply perfect. I’m unimpressed by grilled/seared prawns way more often than not, and I fail to understand how so many people overlook the importance of good seasoning. These bad boys were marinated in Yuzu butter (YUM!), which made ALL the difference in the world!
I just realized that I also forgot to photograph the Arroz Con Coco, which in English, is coconut sticky rice, a.k.a pure heaven. Who here doesn’t know how much I love coconut? Only Jon Snow.
Dessert was actually the least impressive part of the meal. This one, the Coco Loco, was the better one of the two we tried. The chocolate lollipops were not quite to my liking.
After being majorly disappointed by Lima, I’m giddy with absolute delight to have a place like Waka set up shop, clearly here to stay.