Okku brunch review: Retro disco tunes meet decadent Asian menu

Stylish restaurant on The Palm has launched its first-ever brunch

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Five years after the original Okku – a Japanese restaurant that in-the-know Dubai residents flocked to in droves – shut its doors, version 2.0 opened at the Marriott Resort on Palm Jumeirah. Nearly a year on, the stylish Asian restaurant has launched its first-ever brunch.

The vibe

This is no regular DJ-and-buffet affair, either. For one, it’s disco-themed. Think mirrored orbs of varying sizes suspended from the ceiling, perfectly in synch with the trio of glowing aquariums filled with photorealistic LED-projected jellyfish. Performers in feathered headdresses and sparkly outfits thread in and out of the makeshift dance floor on rollerblades, adding to the retro feel.

The music, too, is a blast from the past – and all the more groovy for it. Who can resist shaking a leg to Abba’s Gimme Gimme or Wannabe by the Spice Girls? Even if you have two left feet, or are just along for a good meal, you can’t help singing along to Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Bob Sinclair’s World Hold On and Boney M’s Rasputin. Rah-rah, indeed.

The dimly lit venue – with its industrial-chic ceiling, red brick walls, colourful sake barrels and life-size Samurai sculptures – reminded me of the “day discotheques” I frequented back in high school and college. And, judging by the nostalgia-fuelled exuberance on display by a crowd of 30, 40 and even 50-somethings, I wasn’t alone.

The food

After that soundtrack and those twirlers (performers and patrons alike) – and so almost feeling like I was 18 again – I wasn’t expecting the lavish spread served at Okku’s Disco brunch. The food offering is divided into four elaborate parts: a buffet-style sushi bar; sharing-style salads and appetisers served at the table; a choice of mains served with a seasonal side dish and unagi or steamed rice; and a dessert platter, also to share.

In direct contrast to the vibe, this menu is tailored to suit a mature palate. Along the snaking sushi bar lie fresh Dibba oysters, while the seafood and mango ceviche comes with tapioca chips. Four types of skewers are also part of the buffet. Although I’m a big fan of both mushrooms and prawns, it was the chicken kushiyaki skewers that tempted me back for seconds. They were excellent, firm yet not chewy, and laced with delicate Asian flavours without being heavy-handed on the soy.

It’s the sushi selection that truly shines in this first course, though. Premium yellowtail Hamachi aburi vies for a spot alongside seared salmon nigiri topped with crunchy seasoned tauki and creamy tuna maki rolls.

It’s tempting to fill up on course one itself, but then you wouldn’t get to appreciate the rather heavy but oh-so-tasty chicken karage and Wagyu gyoza. Freshly made sweet chilli-soy dressing – check.

The second course also includes a seasonal salad with an indulgent Asian dressing and miso soup upon request. The one disappointment here – especially after that curated sushi spread – was the spicy salmon crispy rice, which tasted like the base had been fried beforehand and kept out too long. I didn’t have room for the wasabi tiger shrimp, but it’s there should you want a platter or three.

For mains, it would be easy enough to start and end with: get the miso black cod. It’s an Okku signature; always has been. However, as my party of four discovered upon sneaking bites from each other’s choices, the chap chae glass noodles (one for the vegetarians), salmon teriyaki and chilli-miso chicken yakiniku are also worthy contenders, while meat-lovers can blindly order the Wagyu steak.

The dessert platter is best had after a bit more dancing and digesting, as it comes with moreish banana, raspberry and lychee sorbets topped with various types of crunchy garnish, and perfectly balanced by a bitter chocolate mousse.

Reservation details

The Disco brunch is on Saturdays from 1pm to 4.30pm. It costs Dh295 for the soft package, Dh395 for house beverages and Dh495 for the sparkling package and Dh695 with bubbly.

For reservations, contact 04 666 1566 or reservations@okkudxb.com

Updated: June 02, 2024, 5:22 AM