Chez Sushi for lunch..BookMunch for cake

Chez SushiI am back again. Thankfully, this time it’s not raining. Clear blue skies and a sunny day. I am at Al Wasl Square, this fab new…ish Dubai neighbourhood. First port of call for lunch is a home-grown sushi spot, Chez Sushi, a few steps away from The Pantry Café. It’s the same team that brought us Japanese supper club, Sho Cho at Dubai Marine Beach Resort…and many a memory of saketini and sashimi-fuelled nights…a long, long time ago though.

Anyhow digressing, Chez Sushi is a small, bright joint with splashes of acid orange and lime green, and over-stuffed sushi-shaped cushions…the latter a bit odd I agree but rather quirky. With a few tables occupied, we pick a couple of window seats, or rather bar stools I should say, overlooking the stream of Saturday traffic on Al Wasl road.

Whilst perusing the menu, we munch on a portion of edamame beans with a good kick of soy, ginger and sesame, whilst cups of Japanese sencha tea are constantly replenished. The pristine crockery, with a rugged white matt finish impresses immediately. Apart from the usual Japanese dishes, Chez Sushi offers a custom-build option, or pick ‘n mix as I describe it. Choose from brown or white rice, raw and cooked seafood and meat ingredients, veggies (with one fruit option – mango), toppings and dressings. Aside from the menu listing, ingredients are on display in a refrigerated counter.

Chez SushiChez SushiChez Sushi - pick your own ingredientsPrawn and coriander gyozaTuna and salmon sashimiMake your own sushi maki

Our miso soup arrives piping hot with with plenty of diced tofu and shreds of wakame seaweed. Next up is a portion of gyoza, Japanese grilled dumplings, in this case stuffed with prawns and coriander – a little too crisp and dry despite dipping into the accompanying citrus-based ponzu sauce. It lacks the plump, juicy texture that makes Sumo Sushi’s and Tomo’s so addictively moreish. The salmon and tuna sashimi arrive as generous slabs – both equally tender and succulent. A Japanese chilli and orange pepper mix by the name of Nanami Togarashi on display at our table adds punch to our soy sauce dip. We ask our waitress if we can buy it…no she says, Choitram’s opposite sells it. Really Chez Sushi, I think you’re missing out on a good sales opportunity here. I’d happily pay a premium than cross the road to Choitram’s.

We then dabble at building our own sushi, however the menu confuses us, and whilst waiters are on hand, they lack the confidence to advise us. Chez Sushi would benefit from a tick box menu like Noodle House or Asia Republic. We settle on three different maki rolls (six of each) – the highlight by far is the spicy tuna with brown rice, a great alternative, rolled with avocado, spring onions, sesame seeds and citrus yuzu dressing. The spicy tuna is raw but oddly listed under the cooked ingredients section – you could argue that a lemon marinade may have cooked it slightly. The wasabi mayo does the trick for our yellowtail and jalapeno brown rice sushi, whilst sadly the beef teriyaki maki choice, with oshinko, a Japanese pickle, is overcooked and tough.

Chez Sushi is a cute, casual joint for fans of Japanese food especially sushi and sashimi afficionados. Whilst some of the dishes would benefit from a little tweaking, and the service fine-tuning, for AED 150 per head, we both wholeheartedly agree we would return. And if I lived a little closer, I would order delivery chez moi. After all, Chez Sushi is an innovative home-grown concept that Dubai’s dining out scene desperately needs.

But before heading back, drop in for tea and cake at BookMunch, Dubai’s first literary café with food stylist Fiona Archibold as consultant chef. A Mad Hatters tea party table greets us laden with decadent cakes and sweet delights. The carrot, courgette and walnut cake with cream cheese frosting has a citrusy tang and without a doubt rivals Lime Tree’s and Ouche’s original carrot versions. On the other hand, the chocolate ganache layer cake is a little too rich and sickly sweet for our liking. The beauty of BookMunch lies in browsing fab coffee table books like these two, whilst munching away on not just cake, but for brekkie, lunch and dinner…oh and there’s free wireless.

BookMunchCarrot, courgette and walnut cake with lemon cream cheese frostingBookMunchChocolate ganache layer cakeBookMunch coffee table bookBookMunch coffee table book

What do you think of this new little Dubai neighbourhood? Have you tried any of the eateries?

Chez Sushi is located in Al Wasl Square on Al Wasl road. T; 800-Sushi. Open daily 12noon to midnight. Delivery from Bur Dubai to Barsha. AED 150 per person.

BookMunch is located a few doors down in Al Wasl Square on Al Wasl road. T; +971 4 3884006. E; Open Sunday to Thursday 7.30am – 10pm and weekends 8am – 10:30pm. Free Wi-Fi. Cakes AED 26 per slice. Tea AED 16.

A bientôt!

FooDiva. x

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21 Responses to “Chez Sushi for lunch..BookMunch for cake”

  1. Devina Divecha (FooDee) March 4, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Cool – Bookmunch sounds very interesting. Not sure if it’s Dubai’s first literary café though? I read somewhere that it opened a month or so back – but there’s a book café that’s been open for many months now in JLT that has the same concept – books and food. Think The Archive in Safa Park also does the same thing?
    DEFINITELY DEFINITELY want to visit the new Al Wasl Square after reading your posts about it. Looking fab.

    • FooDiva March 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Ooh really JLT?…must investigate. Thanks for the heads up Dee. Archive from what I can gather does not have a full-fledged menu that covers lunch and dinner as well, or does it?

      • Devina Divecha (FooDee) March 5, 2013 at 11:32 am

        JLT cafe called Nataly Bakery or something like that. In one of the clusters near the JLT metro station if I’m correct.
        I’m not sure about Archive’s menu, haven’t been there myself. I only know they have an all-day breakfast (8am-8pm I think) and have cafe-style snacks.

  2. Geordie Armani March 4, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I am wanting to try BKK but got a busy few weekends ahead, let me know when you get a window and we could go together? been a while since we had a natter x

    • FooDiva March 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      Yes you got yourself a date GA 😉 But next month after my travels if you don’t mind. x

      • Geordie Armani March 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm

        that suits me too, got a guest arriving on 20th 🙂

  3. Grace @ Sandier Pastures March 4, 2013 at 11:13 am

    BookMunch reminds me of those “manga kissa” (comic book cafes) in Japan. They have hybrid manga cafes there though, running 24 hours and people go there to sometimes even spend the night. Cheaper than hotel! LOL

    I haven’t been to Al Wasl Square, I hear so many things have popped on there – including Dubai’s first Japanese bakery, which is soon to open!

    • FooDiva March 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      I went to Japan Grace and never came across a manga cafe…must be very underground! Wow but one here, now there’s a story lead 😉 Yamanote, the Japanese bakery still has its hoarding up, but am very intrigued by what it will offer. And of course there’s also BKK’s Thai seafood concept on that same strip.

      • Grace @ Sandier Pastures March 4, 2013 at 2:13 pm

        Manga cafes are all over Japan, as in all over, especially in Tokyo. When did you go? and Where?

  4. Susan March 4, 2013 at 11:43 am

    We drive past Al Wasl Square all the time so I must make a point of stopping one day! It looks like there’s loads of great places to try there. What’s it like for parking?

    • FooDiva March 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      There is parking behind the strip Susan, but you are best just using the sandpit next door (turn right just before Al Wasl Square heading towards Dubai).

  5. shy March 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Tried both Pantry Cafe and Chez sushi…great places…have yet to try Book munch…And like GA looking fwd to some spicy Thai at smiling BKK..will wait for review ofcourse…

    • FooDiva March 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      Bless you thanks Shy – will try and get to BKK sooner rather than later!

  6. Lesley March 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    BookMunch is a firm favourite of mine – I’ve been there at all times of the day and the food has always delighted me and been delicious.
    I do agree with your excellent points on the Sushi place – the menu IS confusing. It’s also on the more expensive side although their bento box was filling and tasty.

    • FooDiva March 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      I do need to return to BookMunch for a savoury feast Lesley. Their menu is pretty impressive with tremendous choice for such a small place and kitchen.

  7. Tony C W March 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    It seems that Al Wasl Square is fast becoming the ‘non-fancy’ rival of DIFC or am I wrong?

    • FooDiva March 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      Ha ha! Indeed you may be right Tony!

  8. OB April 23, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I have not dined here yet, but I am wondering is it really worth spending AED 150 or more (depending on your appetite) when there are so many sushi buffets in Dubai’s hotels for AED 99? I read your review and given that there is practically nothing new or exotic here in terms of ingredients (not really), my question is – why pay more for less???

    • FooDiva April 25, 2013 at 10:19 am

      There are certainly cheaper sushi joints across town, but I don’t think you can compare a buffet experience with table service. I think Chez Sushi’s differentiator is the use of meat in its dishes. Many people don’t like sushi because of the raw fish, but at least here they have a few other dishes to choose from. Appreciate your comment.

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    […] a Japanese chilli spice infused with orange, sesame, ginger and seaweed that I discovered at Chez Sushi (incidentally supermarkets here do sell it – makes for a great rub on steamed fish or just […]

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