I’d never heard of Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, known as Nikkei, until Aji opened at the beachside Club Vista Mare on The Palm about 18 months ago. I am now a huge fan and have dined at Aji several times, most recently for their Sakura Night, to celebrate the start of Cherry Blossom Season.
The restaurant itself is huge (possibly dare I say, a little too big) with a large bar as you walk in to the right and to the left the expansive, stunning dining room. You can tell no expense has been spared on this seriously Instaworthy spot, with funky artwork and a huge cherry blossom featuring in one corner. It’s opulent but not stuffy at all. As if all this wasn’t enough the decking overlooking the beach is the perfect locale to while away a winter’s afternoon in the sun with a cocktail or two.
Aji really know how to do sushi and even have a sushi bar at the back of the restaurant where you can go and handpick whatever your heart desires. It’s a little on the pricey side (what isn’t in Dubai?) but it’s always fresh and full of flavour. At the Sakura night we were treated to a beautiful selection of sashimi, rolls and nigiri, with some very quirky takes on the more traditional dishes. Do not miss the Shake Truffle Nigiri, made with salmon, truffle butter, masago, spring onion, black truffle and wasabi. Say whaaaaaat?? Next up on the hit list has to be the Maguro Foie Gras Nigiri, comprising of tuna, foie gras, teriyaki and wasabi. Both of these pack a serious punch and are absolutely divine!!!
For main course I opted for the Ebi Teppan, which came out as a sizzling plate of jumbo prawns coated in Japanese butter (I have no idea what makes the butter Japanese but it was crazy good!), cucumber, red onion, chilli and coriander. The prawns were huge and beautifully cooked and the sizzling plate made quite a dramatic dish – watch out though, it does spit! The husband couldn’t resist the Lomo Soltado, which consisted of diced tenderloin cooked with Peruvian corn, Peruvian potatoes, Aji Amarillo and rice. The flavours really came together well and the meat was deliciously tender. (Apologies for the poor photo’s, the restaurant is very dark and I completely forgot my flash!)
For dessert we couldn’t say no to the Baileys Dream, which we’ve had a couple of times before and just adore. It’s rich and beautifully constructed with just a lovely hint of Baileys. Our server also recommended we try the Matcha Bonsai (I think that’s what it was called, I may have had a few cocktails by this point) which was absolutely massive. I’m a total matcha lover so really enjoyed this, but my husband wasn’t too sure. Their desserts are on the larger size and I would say one is perfect for sharing if you’ve already indulged in both starters and mains.
Onto the drinks and I’m pleased to confirm that Aji really know how to make a mean cocktail. They’ve been very inventive with their menu and have put a fab twist on some of the classics, such as the Truffle Old Fashioned, The Pisco Punch and the Japanese Sangria. It’s definitely worth treating yourself to at least one, although be warned they are a bit punchy! Aji are also very big on their Sake, and we were treated to a delicious Sake flight at the Sakura Night which I surprisingly enjoyed as it’s not something I’d typically order on a night out.
Aji is high-end, and probably the most expensive restaurant at Club Vista Mare, which I think explains why it isn’t always as packed as some of the other venues, but for a nice treat is totally worth it. Get glammed up and enjoy the beautiful restaurant, unique food and stunning cocktails. I love it for a date night!
I heard on the grapevine that they’ve also just launched an unlimited sushi night every Tuesday for 150 AED and I will most definitely be going to try it out very soon!
For more information please visit http://aji.ae/ or call + 971 4 552 0244