Restaurant Review: Toshi
It’s a bit tricky finding our way to the restaurant – the receptionist at the spa in front of the lifts directs us down a maze of long corridors and past the hotel’s pool – and when we finally arrive at Toshi our first impression is that it wasn’t quite worth the trek. The décor is decidedly unspectacular: the colour scheme consists of dull greys and beiges, the furniture is modern to the point of boring, and the identical Buddha statues under red lighting look like they’ve been ripped off from the ones in Karma Café in Souk Al Bahar. Just as I’ve started wondering why exactly my foodie colleague so highly recommended Toshi, we are ushered to our table and my jaw drops.
We’ve been reserved one of the best seats in the house: a table near the window that spans an entire wall of the premises, providing an expansive view of the glittering cityscape 18 floors below. As our order is being taken, I’m even more pleased with the service when I spy one of the wait staff busily lighting candles on all the tables, giving the place a sense of liveliness in spite of the 6pm lull.
The appetisers are laid out in a buffet, giving me plenty of opportunity to scrutinise the whole selection. At the sushi bar behind the buffet table, the chef informs us to our delight that we can choose from more than 20 kinds of freshly prepared sushi. My friend and I pile our plates high with food, dig in and exchange notes. The beef tataki is the kind of spicy that sets your ears on fire – and you relish every last bite of it. When I reach over to my friend’s plate with my fork, her papaya salad has the same effect, but the tastes of unripe papaya, juicy tomato quarters and peanuts are still quite discernable under the spiciness. The California sushi roll, in spite of how grand it appeared perched by itself on the hand roll stand, is uneventful. But, as if to compensate, the flavours of the Philadelphia maki roll represent themselves separately on my tongue: salmon, cucumber and cream cheese.
We begin the main course with the lamb stir-fry in black pepper sauce and Indonesian rice, which is – once again – extra spicy. I’m a fan of spicy food, but evidently those who aren’t had best steer clear of Toshi! We follow with the Peking duck, which perhaps doesn’t live up to its status as the most popular item on the menu (as the waiter claims), but the meat is pleasantly tender and light and balances well with the tangy hoisin sauce.
By this time we can’t take in anymore, but when we are shown to the dessert bar, our full stomachs are quickly forgotten. There are the usual suspects like strawberry mousse and chocolate cake, as well as some traditional Asian options like green melon in coconut milk and brown rice pudding. Of these, the fried banana with sugar syrup – crunchy, sticky and delightfully messy – wins out.
Perhaps Toshi isn’t the swankiest place to be, but it redeems itself with its food, which absolutely compels you to ignore everything else. My friend was right when she described her food as ‘memorable’ – that’s what makes Toshi an old favourite.
INFO: 5pm-1am Sun-Fri, 12noon-12:45am Sat, Level 18 Grand Millennium Dubai, TECOM, 04 429 9999.
Top 3 Must-Try Dishes
Green papaya salad, Dhs 29
Lamb stir-fry in black pepper sauce, Dhs 90
Banana yaki, Dhs 35
TOSHI’S CLASSIC TOM YUM SOUP
MAKES 1 BOWL
FOR THE SOUP
3 river prawns or tiger prawns
1 cup prawn soup stock
3 slices lemongrass
3 slices galangal
3 Kaffir lime leaves
3 fresh white mushrooms
2 bird’s eye chillies
Coriander to garnish
FOR THE SEASONING
3 tbsp lime or lemon juice
3 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp chilli paste for tom yum or chilli oil
1 tsp sugar
1 Clean the prawns and keep the shells to make the soup stock.
2 Add all the ingredients for the soup to the stock and bring to a boil for 3 minutes or until the prawns are cooked.
3 Mix the ingredients for the seasoning in a bowl and add the soup. Mix well.
4 Garnish with coriander and serve.