Being happily married, starting work at 7:45am, living over in JVC and being a responsible dog owner has curtailed my Ladies Night activities over the past few months. However, in understanding that my readers would probably be interested to know about some of the less-known offerings out there, I thought I’d go check out Izakaya (JW Marquis Marriott’s casual Japanese restaurant) with a good friend of mine, to see what their new Sushi & Bubbly Tuesday offering could present.
At 175 AED per person for unlimited sushi from 6-12pm and 298 AED per person inclusive of Belaire Rare Bubbly or Beer and Cocktails, it seems extraordinarily good value, however, we found out that drinks were limited to two hours, so you better drink up quick to get your money’s worth!
The setting is pretty cool – umbrellas hang from the ceiling, the staff are dressed in reasonably-traditional Japanese attire and the whole place has a good array of stylish, aesthetically pleasing features that don’t take away from the functionality of the space.
My guest arrived and we ordered the sushi platter, which arrived within 15 minutes:
You can get as many of these as you want throughout the evening and although it was tasty enough, well structured and fresh, it wasn’t anything spectacular or anything that was any better than your standard sushi takeaway place. The Torched Rainbox Maki was probably my favourite, with a nice hit coming from the Kizame Wasabi however, the Beef Kinoko Maki roll let the platter down, with the beef’s texture like rubber.
The Chirashi Sushi and the Temaki came up next. In all honesty, I forgot to capture photos of these two dishes as I was embroiled in deep conversation and embarrassingly, I don’t remember anything about the Chirashi dish. The Temaki again was good but not outstanding, I found it a bit sloppily put together and it soon disintegrated when trying to eat it.
One platter of the whole Ladies Night menu to share was probably enough to quell our appetites and send us into the night, but we wanted to see what the chef could do and gave the Black Cod and Wagyu Skewers a go. Both dishes arrived promptly and were well cooked and enjoyed by both of us. There were no real sides or accompaniments though, so it really was just a slab of well-cooked sablefish (it’s not actually “cod”, you know!) with a flop of onion and a thimbleful of miso sauce and some chunks of meat on a stick – it would be nice for these items to evolve into actual dishes rather than just protein on a plate – especially at 140 AED for the skewers and 155 AED for the sablefish.
We finished off with a couple of desserts which again were good but not great. The fondant – although enjoyable enough, arrived very flat and the mochi was something new to me, but not really to my taste in its texture:
When I first proofread what I’d scribed up to this point, the review was filled with “goods” and “nices” and “decents”. I think the lack of superlatives sums up the whole experience perfectly. There’s very little to dislike about the offering and my guest and I had a great catch up and were well-fed, but on the other hand there’s nothing that’s going to wow you. We said our thanks and were given a friendly farewell, feeling satiated but far from blown away.
FOOD: 10/15 – Above average to good across the board. Nothing outstanding, nothing terrible.
SERVICE: 10/15 – Similar to the food – unspectacular. We were introduced to maybe 4/5 people who were taking it in turns to wait our table throughout the evening; it was a little bit of overkill (but maybe was just an extra effort to try impress as I was invited). Food and drinks arrived on time but there wasn’t really the opportunity to build any rapport with the staff due to the constant rotation.
DRINKS SELECTION: 4/5 – For the ladies night, they have a decent bottle of bubbles, Asahi beer and some signature cocktails so it’s a good selection.
AMBIANCE: 4.5/5 – It was pretty busy and rowdy so made a good atmosphere for a ladies night, the music was thumping but not to the point where you couldn’t hear who you’re with.
DESIGN: 3.5/5 – A little safe with a few cliches (please Dubai, let’s stop with the whole “pun thing” now), but it’s a good space with a mix of private areas and open areas to suit both business and leisure diners.
VALUE: 3/5 – Initially it seemed like great value, but when we found out the alcohol was limited to 2 hours, it’s not really all that fantastic. There’s only so much of the sushi you’ll want to eat before you get fed up of it and for 300 AED, you can go to some decent brunches and have an unlimited wide range of food and drink.
TOTAL: 35/50 – Across the board it’s a solid 7 out of 10 – never reaching great heights but rarely dipping below this level. You won’t have a bad night by any means if you visit, but you won’t be shouting from the rooftops, rushing to go back the next week either.