There seems to be no stopping popular Dubai chef Izu Ani these days as he adds another concept to Dubai’s expanding dining scene. The latest venture Aya opened towards the end of last year and is located in the bustling City Walk, taking the space that previously housed Galvin.
Aya, which means wonderful in Arabic, is a Japanese restaurant that adds a unique twist to its dishes. The menu, put together with head chef Christopher Blake, who joined from Dubai’s Zuma, is based on a sharing concept including mezzes, buns, rolls and mains.
To start we shared the short rib gyoza, which were full of meat, along with the surf and turf rolls with shrimp and topped with pieces of tasty wagyu beef, the Padron peppers with a beautiful seasoning of kombu salt which we could not stop picking at, the crispy calamari which were delicately fried, with a light but crispy coating, and the burnt tomato panzanella, an absolutely delicious dish, full of flavours, very refreshing with a nice hint of ginger.
We could not continue without trying one of the rolls and our choice of wagyu katsu sando was spot on. A chunk of the juiciest 9+ wagyu beef, with a crispy coating and Aya’s own barbecue sauce, served in between two slices of the softest Hokkaido milk bread. If you have to choose just one item from the menu, and I hope you never do, then this is certainly the one.
For mains we shared the very tender and tasty Spanish octopus served with coriander emulsion, and accompanied it with probably the sweetest sweetcorn gratin we have ever tasted and bite sized baby potatoes, crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle with a perfect truffle butter.
As filling as all the dishes were, there is always room to finish with dessert and we ended the meal with Japanese cheesecake, a light and fluffy cake topped with a generous serving of smooth caramel and bergamot cream. Chef Izu has come up with another great concept that further demonstrates how local talent is good enough to add quality to Dubai’s dining scene.
Expect to pay around Dhs 400 per person not including drinks.