Big brunch review: Friday evening brunch at Matagi

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What’s a five star hotel without a premium pan-Asian restaurant?

Matagi is one of the latest openings in the ever-so-grand Emerald Palace Kempinski on Palm Jumeirah. It’s a chic and sophisticated pan-Asian restaurant (every five star hotel in Dubai needs one) with dim lighting and comfortable leather seating set against a wall of intricate patterns, inspired by ancient Asia.

The new night brunch, Crazy Rich Brunch, aims to provide a unique experience, with show stopping dishes and uplifting flavours, but does it deliver?

When we arrive at the restaurant, we’re not expecting a busy venue but to our surprise, almost every table is full. There’s a lively buzz of atmosphere and smooth house beats are playing at just the right volume. We’re quickly shown to a table in the centre, with a perfect view of the chefs working away in their glass covered kitchen, and the bar team whizzing up intricate cocktails.

We start with a sharing platter of sashimi and maki, which you can tell has been freshly prepared by a sushi master, a plate of the most delicious salmon carpaccio accompanied by a mouthwatering truffle ponzu sauce and zesty orange slices, and a seaweed salad to finish off the light and refreshing first round of appetisers.

A second round arrives, this time with hot dishes. We enjoyed the wok-fried noodles, as they weren’t too sticky, with the perfect amount of crunch and flavour from the asparagus and Japanese mushrooms. Sweet bitesize chicken pieces on skewers are also delivered, oozing with a sweet and tasty yaktori sauce.

The service is swift and efficient, with the waiters taking time out of a busy service to interact with their guests, remembering drinks orders and checking on the food at every course.

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The choice of main course was in our hands, a tricky decision but perhaps we made the wrong one. We opted for the grilled sirloin with wasabi, which lacked the juiciness of a traditional sirloin steak. The miso lamb chops were a better choice, with crispy edges and a refreshing papaya salad on the side.

Luckily the sides saved this course. We were presented with the creamiest, sweetest sweet potato mash we’ve ever tasted, topped with a handful of light salted crisps – we could’ve happily had this dish alone as a main. And a dish of stir fried bok choy, which added a nice balance to the otherwise meaty meal.

To finish, a somewhat contrasting trio of desserts arrived. The winner has to be the chocolate cookie sandwich, filled with sweet vanilla ice cream and perfectly presented by its accompanying toppings. The mango lime sorbet was sharp but did its job of refreshing the palette, while the fresh fruit platter served to make us feel slightly better about completely gorging on the feast prior.

Crazy Rich Brunch is the ideal evening brunch, with great food and a lively atmosphere but without trying too hard with gimmicks and distracting entertainment. It’s a classy affair with authentic Asian cuisine, and a diverse selection of drinks. The summer promotion is priced at Dhs299 for the soft package and Dhs399 for house drinks.

Crazy Rich Brunch, Matagi, Emerald Palace Kempinski, 7pm to 11pm, Fridays, Dhs299 soft, Dhs399 house. Tel: (04) 248 8850. matagidxb.com

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