Japanese at Kazu - The Yas Viceroy Hotel, Abu Dhabi.

One of the first things that dawns on me as I have a look around Kazu, the Japanese restaurant at The Viceroy Hotel on Yas Island, is the size. On inquiring, I am told it accommodates around 52 indoors and 40 on the terrace. That is intimate. Next, it is the simplicity of the restaurant, lending a Japanese-like edge to it. In common with its sister restaurants in the hotel, natural light from floor to ceiling windows also catches my eye. I am here to try the Omakase, loosely translated, Chef's selection of dishes or more literally, to entrust. I like the latter. On this night, I leave myself in the hands of  Chef Idfan.

The evening is initiated with a crab taco dish - a trio of tacos with crab meat and wasabi mayo. A light way to get things started. The key is the wasabi mayo in which the wasabi does not push the crab into the background. Balanced. 

Soon after, wagyu in sweet chili and sesame is served in a small pot over a flame.  Shallots and gingko beans complete this very simple dish. The surprising highlight for me is the gingko beans that pack a lot of texture, a cross between a water chestnut and a green bean in terms of texture. 

Meanwhile, my sake pairing (you can enjoy sake pairing with your omakase at a very fair price) lives up to my expectations. I like the flexibility with their approach to the drinks pairing, creating one that suits most pockets. 

The sushi and sashimi platter is served next, and I am quite taken by the presentation. Radish is used in dramatic fashion to form the backdrop of the platter's exquisite presentation, recalling a net that is used in fishing. While I can't resist the Otoro (premium tuna belly) which just disappears in my mouth without much encouragement, it is the unagi roll that turns out to be the best I have had in the city. 

By the time my main course is served, I am  at the point where I am already satisfied without feeling bloated. Do I have space for Angus tenderloin served in manageable portions and the Chilean sea bass? Well yes. Crispy garlic slices is the only side attraction I need with the Angus. I refuse the sauces. Still very tasty. However, it is the sea bass that wins my heart and my taste buds. When you hear 'sea bass and jalapeƱo sauce', I am sure you would share my concerns about the sauce overpowering the sea bass. My fears, however, dissipate as I try the sea bass. Fantastic with a  very subtle hot element in the sauce. Not even the music, which I find strange and lacking identity, can detract from my favourite dish on the night. 

My daughter and I decide to have our dessert on the terrace. This is no ordinary terrace, with great views of the Formula one racing track. It is well lit, and as I wait for my dessert, I imagine what it must feel like sitting here on race day. The energy. The sound. The occasion. A definite must do! My imaginary musings are interrupted as our desserts are served. The tempura ice cream excites, but I find the batter to be too thick and heavy. The rest of dessert does not disappoint though. Crispy banana spring rolls are exactly that - crispy. The mochi ice is smooth and perfectly complemented by the berries which lend a sourness to the sweet mochi. 

One of the major x factors, other than the food, is the staff at Kazu. The restaurant is managed by  a very charismatic Bui Pan Tu and ably supported by waiters and waitresses. Then there is the engagement by chefs that really adds something special to the dining experience as we experienced both head Chef Idfan and Chef Alamgir who was stationed at the teppanyaki counter. There is a lot of warmth from staff.

At the end of dinner, I cant help thinking why it is that I have not heard people talking about Kazu as a restaurant. I can only assume it has a lot to do with Yas Island as a location. But at a mere 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi  hardly seems far. The food certainly is as good as I have had at other top Japanese restaurants in the city; the service probably the best I have had, with staff chatty but aware of the guest's need to just be alone to enjoy the dishes. 

Kazu's omakase is a great way to experience the dishes on offer, while adding a bit of excitement too because there is no menu. Based on my experience tonight, you will do well to entrust yourself to Chef Idfan and his team - time and money well spent!

The Essentials
Yas Viceroy Hotel
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
+971 2 656 0000

Omakase from 350AED ++
Brandon Stoltenkamp

Disclaimer: I was invited to try the omakase by the hotel.