Seven years living in the Abu Dhabi and we can’t believe it has taken us more than half a decade to visit Tori No Su, the Japanese dining destination in the Jumeriah at Etihad Towers complex. These glistening towers may have become synonymous with Vin Diesel bursting through the glass facade in the seventh film in the Fast and The Furious franchise in recent years, but the five-star property has long been recognised for its strong food and beverage offerings.
Tori No Su can be found at the podium level adjacent to the valet parking and offers a completely different experience to the hubbub of cars outside. Entering through a small door we’re met with an atmospheric venue that’s surprisingly small by Abu Dhabi standards. An abundance of polished marble gleams all around the restaurant space, from the tabletops to the raised bar area. However, this does not detract from the central sushi bar and teppanyaki table, backlist in alluring hues of orange and etched with designs of origami birds in flight.
Seating remains intimate if perhaps a little too informal. Thankfully this doesn’t detract from the experience and those in search of extra privacy will be delighted to find that certain tables can be fully-privatised via the use of curtains.
The atmosphere is a huge factor when it comes to dining in the capital and while many restaurants offer quality food and decor, a lack of ambience befalls far too many hotel restaurants in the city. Tori No Su seems to be somewhat of an abnormality as it has both a vibe and a particularly busy dining room. Even on an expectedly quiet mid-week evening that place is alive.
Perusing the leather-bound menu of Japanese specialities we are instinctively drawn towards the Omakase but having indulged in the same at Paru mere days before, we instead opt for a selection of the signature a la carte signatures.
Tori No Su is renowned for their sushi so we begin with salmon teriyaki rolls (AED 65). A wonderful maki in which the salmon has been beautiful flambéd with a blowtorch to bring a subtle char to the otherwise delicate fish. Draped onto of a generously stuffed roll containing avocado, cucumber, egg and crispy Salmon Skin and slathered with a sweet teriyaki glaze. These maki impress enough for us to pencil in a return date, purely to work our way through the sushi selection.
Unable to resist hotate Ebi Gyoza (AED 65) the small pan-fried parcels verge on perfection. With a thin skin that offers little resistance, the Japanese dumplings are bursting with prawn, scallop, shiitake, onion and cabbage and take a rather subtle approach when it comes to flavours. The Hokkaido Corn (AED 70) is another winner with the manageable pieces of Japanese corn coated in a sweet miso butter and bonito flakes providing a hit of sweet and sour to the palate! The corn comes alive with a squeeze of lime.
An intermediate course, the duck kuwayaki (AED 90) presents thin slices of tender duck breast glistening under a sweet soya sauce amidst thinly chopped Japanese leeks. It’s a delightful dish in which the sweetness of the sauce plays off the rich and gamey nature of the meat to desirable effect.
Perhaps the strongest dish of the night, the bluefin tuna honey ginger (AED 130) has so much going on that it takes some time to grapple with the various flavours. Topped with chilli and a salad of Asian greens, the cold slithers of tuna represent impeccable knife work and harmonise with the fiery heat of the chilli in an addictive dish of excellent umami. The lobster shiratama (AED140) is another interesting choice with the glutinous rice more representative of small dumplings that maintain a pillow-light texture and profound elasticity. The lobster cooked wonderfully and remains the star of the plate amongst charred broccoli, pumpkin, Shimeji and a punchy wasabi sauce.
Desserts maintain the strength of the savoury courses, with the kinko French toast (AED 40) being of particular note. A sweet brioche toasted with roasted soybean flour and served with a plum caramel sauce makes for an ambitious take on the breakfast favourite that fully embraces Asian ingredients. Similarly, the matcha tiramisu (AED 40) takes the staple of the Italian dessert table and instils the mascarpone with a distinctly Japanese twist – ladyfingers are soaked in a green tea syrup. The contrasting appearance between the green and white colouration of the dish is fully realised in the glorious presentation with the tiramisu served from a small wooden box having undergone a glorious dusting with matcha powder.
Service is very much in keeping with the tone of the restaurant. Treating guests to a discreet and effortless service style that hones in on guests requirements with little interruption. Yet it’s the sophistication of the experience and the ambience that is most memorable as we drift out into the night accompanied by a rhythmic soundtrack working in unison with the flowing curtains and dangling lanterns that punctuate the ceiling.
Location: Podium Level 3, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, West Corniche, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook
Hours: 12pm – 3pm / 7pm – 11:30pm (closed Fridays and Saturdays)
Phone: +971 2 811 5666
Out & About UAE were guests of Tori No Su and all views are our own.