Ucci Sushi is a Japanese restaurant based in the lobby of the Auris Inn Al Muhanna Hotel in Barsha Heights. Its smartly decorated interior is dominated by a YO! Sushi style rotation conveyor system, alongside where one is invited to sit (on surprisingly comfortable stools) to dine. There are tables too should one not want to eat at the sushi train. As you enter, you’ll find a glass-enclosed prep counter where an all-Filipino team of chefs prepare sushi and sashimi. The fact that one entire side of the restaurant looks into the hotel lobby can be a little unsettling and does nothing to create any sort of ambience. I was unable to get comfortable, always feeling like everyone in the lobby was looking at me. That could also be because, throughout my meal, I was the only person there.
I wouldn’t call the reception I got upon arrival at the restaurant the warmest I’ve experienced. In fact, it took the single staff member there, a young Filipina, a while to get going. Also annoying was her lack of knowledge about their menu. I hate it when something is recommended on the strength of being a bestseller. Baba, there are no more than twenty items on the menu, how hard can it be to teach staff a little about each dish? Anyway, although I originally came to Occi to try their ramen, I ended up ordering a 10-piece sashimi combination and their Chilean seabass marinated in yuzu miso. I used Zomato Gold to knock one off my bill. But that’s the only thing I really smiled about (that, and discovery of this amazing spa on the second floor of the hotel: https://www.eurospa.ae/).
The salmon and tuna used for my sashimi were fresh, I’ll give them that, but they came in slices which were far too thick making chewing awkward. I sent it all back to the kitchen for them to cut into more manageable morsels. That issue aside, the sashimi was really good and well worth the AED80. I knew something was wrong from the minute the seabass was put in front of me, its pale complexion suggesting it had not been grilled properly. I found the marinate far sweeter than any Japanese would accept and there was no citrusy taste one gets with yuzu miso. As suspected, the fish had not been cooked properly. And that’s because it had not been thawed properly; the inside was still cold, the chunky flakes stuck together. I should not have eaten it. But I did. And I paid later that evening.
On paper, Ucci Sushi has all the right ingredients to be considered as a decent mid-segment Japanese proposition. That said, this is a niche overcrowded with some amazing alternatives such as Yūgō Sushi in the Greens, Miyabi Sushi & Bento in Media City and Toshi at the Grand Millennium just down the road. And I haven’t even brought in mainstream champs, Sumo Sushi & Bento, also in Media City…two minutes’ drive away. Based on this experience and it’s painful aftermath, I would consider any one the above over Ucci Sushi…except maybe if I save up enough money to one day re-visit the hotel for that promising spa upstairs…then maybe I’d consider trying their ramen after…
Hey! Now read this –
Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue.
Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on: email@example.com