It’s been a year since we last visited Sho Cho which is strange because we were so impressed by their Friday Brunch, that we expoected to return again much sooner.
The Japanese restaurant and lounge concept opened in Abu Dhabi in 2007 (following a successful Dubai launch in 2000) and has been pulling in the crowds ever since via a trifecta of exceptional food, views and ambiance. Situated in Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Sho Cho doesn’t seem like the expected fit for the setting of an Arabesque market (albeit an upmarket one). Walking through the doors it feels as though you’ve stepped onto the deck of a luxury yacht. A colour scheme of a pristine white envelops you, from the leather style seating to the outside bar. Portholes are illuminated with holographic images of jellyfish and the interiors soon give way to a remarkable outside terrace in a seamless transition. Although not a huge space, the area is utilised well with the exception of the tables being placed perhaps a little too close to one another.
While our previous dining experience was during the daylight hours, our return visit was in the evening. During this time Sho Cho takes on a far more relaxed vibe, with ambient house music gently emanating from the sound system and providing a sense of Ibiza-esque euphoria. Boats bob on the waterway of Khor Al Maqta and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque takes centre stage on the horizon. With darkness approaching, Sho Cho is bathed in hues of electric blue and even on a Sunday (a generally slow evening in the hospitality industry) the place was heaving.
The influx of customers stems from a variety of new promotions offered by the team at Sho Cho. The latest of which is the ‘Sunday Night Feast’ featuring an unlimited buffet of sushi, salads, desserts and a live Teppanyaki grill. Priced at AED 125 this is an absolute bargain for unlimited quantities of quality Japanese cuisine. Though we fully intended to partake in this promotion, a change of heart promoted us to order a la carte in a bid to really discover the breadth of the Sho Cho menu.
We begin with Prawn and Coriander Gyoza, our go-to dish when it comes to Japanese food. These steamed parcels often referred to as ‘pot stickers’ were an absolute delight, with the wrapper maintaining the right level of thickness without falling into the trappings of being sticky or tough. Inside we found a well seasoned mixture of prawn and coriander, retaining the flavours of the seafood and working in harmony with the tarte nature of the citrus based ponzu sauce.
Last night it was all about @shochouae. Terrific waterfront views, chilled out vibes and these prawn gyoza 🍤 ・ ・ ・ #AbuDhabi #UAE #UnitedArabEmirates #InAbuDhabi #DiscoverAbuDhabi #InstaAbuDhabi #SimplyAbuDhabi #Foodie #InstaFood #InstaYum #Blogger #AbuDhabiBlogger #UAEBlogger #BloggersUAE #OutAndAboutUAE #TimeOutAbuDhabi #F52Grams #FoodBlogger #ShoCho #ShoChoAbuDhabi #Gyoza
Keeping with the seafood theme we throghly enjoyed the Yellowtail Ceviche served with Nori chips, though we expected the flesh to appear in thin slithers. The chunkier diced nature of this partiuclar version of the dish, meant that the flavours from the fish were more powerful and the additional texture from the seaweed chips helped to elevate the dish somewhat. Unable to resist the sushi our dining companiojn ordered the vegetarian friendly Avacado and Cucumber Maki, something we wouldn’t have ordered but in keeping with the other dishes, offered a well balanced selection of ingridients. A common problem with sushi is to bulk it out with rice in some sort of cost-saving measure but not at Sho Cho, where the central ingridients were generously portioned.
Moving onto the mains we ordered the Salmon Teriyaki with ginger pickle and steamed rice, a staple dish of Japanese cuisine and a signature at Sho Cho. The salmon remained delicate and flaked nicely with a fork and is glazed numerous times during the cooking process, allowing the sweetness to secrete into the flesh and caramelise ever so slightly on the outside.
The element of sweetness carried through into our Marinated Duck with honey soy sauce and snap peas. With duck renowned as a particularly fatty meat, the cut selected at Sho Cho showed little evidence of this. Tender meat bathed in a sauce of equal parts sweet and sour, may well be our favourite dish on the menu, aside from the aubergine salad we sampled during our brunch review.
Why do all Japanese restaurants offer the same handful of desserts? We would love to see a Japanese restaurant in the capital escape from the confines of traditionalism and offer more than just mochi and yuzu cheesecake. Though Sho Cho falls into the same trappings the Yuzu Cheesecake offered is very good, offering a thick citrus mixture on top of a thin biscuit base. The Chocolate Fondant didn’t disappoint, even though our expected twenty minute wait ended up closer to forty minutes. The fondant was well cooked while keeping the oozing liquified centre. The clever use of a light green tea ice cream works to offset the richness of the chocolate.
Our second visit to Sho Cho was just as memorable as our first and offers one of the better Asian restaurants in the Capital and one that has a significant advantage of being partnered with that terrific view.
Sho Cho is a venue for every night of the week with a programme of events and promotions that are likely to encourage repeat visits.
- Mixology Mondays: Join Sho Cho’s star cocktail master Jhon Apriadi for a lesson in mixology. AED 175 including three drinks, maki roll and a take-home cocktail making kit. 6:30pm – 8pm.
- Chill Out Tuesdays: An early evening happy hour with selected cocktails fro just AED 30 from 5pm – 8pm.
- Ignition Wednesdays: A ladies night offering unlimited free mojitos from 10pm – 1am.
- Best Of House Thursdays: Kick off the weekend in style with DJ GEM N.I and selected cocktails at AED 30
- Friday Brunch: Indulge in signature dishes and a selection of beverages while soaking up the sun from 12 to 4pm. AED 190 (soft drinks) and AED 295 (house beverages). Read our full review here:
- Saturday Chill Out: Relax with happy hour promotions and ambient house music to ease you back into the working week.
We were invited to dine at Sho Cho. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.