I wanted to take Trine for Friday brunch at Asia Asia, but when I called in to make the reservation, they were fully booked. Asia Asia is one of the most popular brunch spots in Dubai Marina, so hoping to score a table with such a short notice was probably a tad too optimistic, but I’m so bad at planning ahead, when it comes to dining…and traveling..and lots of other things.
Well, well. Instead I called Aji, which is a new restaurant on Palm Jumeirah and luckily, they had a table for us. Food-wise, Ají is quite similar to Asia Asia, but where Asia Asia has a broadly-based pan-Asian approach, Ají focuses on Nikkei food, the term for the popular Japanese/Peruvian cuisine, which has been on everyone’s lips (literally speaking, ha ha) for for quite a while now.
Ají is located at Club Vista Mare, which is a small stretch of restaurants right by the beach. Almost like a mini JBR, but with better restaurants. The restaurants are licensed (they serve alcohol) which might be a minor, but oh-so-important, detail.
It was a hot day, but we wanted to sit outside, so we got a nice table right next to the beach, and a big parasol and the sea breeze helped prevent us from melting away. A waitress introduced us to the brunch concept and explained that we would have a selection of small plates as a starter. For the mains, we could choose one each from the menu, and afterwards, we would have a selection of desserts.
Both Trine and I love ceviche, so when the four bowls of ceviche (or cebiche) samplers arrived at our table, we were thrilled. It was so tasty that we completely neglected the sushi and the fish tacos, which landed at our table shortly after. When we finally managed to take our eyes (and chopsticks) off the ceviche, we found out that the sushi was really nice too, and especially the nigiri made an impression.
Of course we ate way too much raw fish, so when it was time for the main course we decided to share one dish. We chose a dish with seabass, scallops and octopus on a bed of rice and black beans. It was tasty but we were too full to really appreciate it.
Skipping dessert was not an option, so we unbuckled our imaginary belts and got ready to dive into the three temptations, which were calling our names. Have you ever wondered if matcha marshmallows would be a good idea? I can tell you, it certainly is!
I really liked Ají a lot, and there’s no doubt this place will give Asia Asia a run for their money, when it comes to Asian-themed brunches in Dubai. Personally, I think I would pick Ají over Asia Asia during the cooler months, as the beach front setting is hard to beat, but both places are excellent brunch spots, which I can warmly recommend.
Ají, Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. Tel: +971(0)45520244