Japanese Friday Brunch - Omakase at SushiSan - Holiday Inn Hotel, Abu Dhabi

The table brunch is growing in popularity. Week in and week out guests are subjected to endless amounts of food, most of which gets wasted afterwards. About 6 months ago SushiSan launched its own table brunch but I was largely unimpressed. With the reworking of their concept I was naturally excited to try it because of where it placed itself in the market. Some thoughts emerged from this experience.

That is the underlying idea at this brunch. Omakase, or dishes chosen by the chef, allows the restaurant to offer something different every week. While sushi is obviously what draws people to it, its brunch and omakase concept means that the chef can really innovate and ensure that regular guests do not get bored. 


Key to this concept is staff. There were some noticeable changes. I always say when you have chefs on the floor, it instill confidence in guests and also raises the level of a brunch seeing the men in white. Seeing Holiday Inn's new Executive Sous Chef, David Main,  on the floor. Between him and the rest of the kitchen, there was a real buzz. An open kitchen and  a live sushi station on the floor really put the kitchen at each table. Also crucial is the team of waitresses. Because there is no menu, they need to guide guests through the experience. Our waitress Evangeline, checked all the boxes. She introduced brunch, told us about the courses as well as the price options. If Sushisan can ensure consistency in doing this, then guests new to the idea of Japanese brunch being more than just sushi, should feel reassured.


There is a very good drinks selection. The welcome drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic were excellent. Their saketini, a marriage of sake and espresso served in a martini glass, was a hit, as was their green tea mocktail. Kudos to the staff who prepared the latter because I could still taste the green tea! The alcohol package offers a nice variety of drinks, from Kirin draught beer, red and white wine to sake and some cocktails. I would like to see the drinks side of things sexied up a bit - my word. Let u see  a mixologist move around and bring pizzazz to this experience. 

And of course, the dishes

Less is more. This has always been my mantra and the omakase concept allows it to be realised at brunch. Appetisers, a main course, pass  arounds and finally dessert - a  simple concept. I liked this. Of course the dishes will change, as per definition of 'omakase'. When I tried it, the Japanese cucumber salad was the highlight of the appetisers, while the edamame I tried was also much better than I had last time - fresher. 

The highlight of the main course, a mixed sushi and sashimi platter, was that it was prepared on the floor. But the sashimi options were great. I hate it when restaurants seem to think that all we know are tuna and salmon. 

The pass arounds worked very well. Apart from the Tuna sushi pizza, I liked everything. The former just does not look pretty enough to make the cut. We eat with our eyes, remember. There were actually a couple strong dishes here - the Chicken skewers in teriyaki sauce had a distinctive Japanese touch to them. I also enjoyed the beef onigiri, a smart little dish. But my favourite was definitely the Dynamite shrimp that actually had a  bit of spiciness, the way it should be. 

Finally, dessert really epitomised the less is more idea - well executed too! I hope this becomes their standard. No spoiling it for you here!


While there are a couple things that need ironing out, I think the brunch at Sushisan succeeds on a number of levels. First, it is an engaging brunch that allows staff and guests to interact in a small, intimate space. Second, it is a brunch that serves a niche market. We do not have many Japanese brunches in the city and we do not have any at this price. The price point offers value for money while not being too cheap that can leave some questioning the quality of ingredients. The mid range package that has an alcohol option for an extra 79AED is excellent value for money. Finally, because the venue is able to accommodate around 50-60 guests, it is always going to be a cosy affair. Now, that I really like. 

Overall, what a different brunch to my last experience. It is quite  a moment when one can see how much effort has gone into creating a concept that works. It is even more moving when one can see how those efforts have paid off. For now, forget  queuing up for food. Forget spending 500AED for a brunch.  For a slice of Japanese culture at a very affordable price, SushiSan will surprise you and will probably have you coming back again. 

The Essentials

SushiSan Omakase brunch,
Holiday Inn,
Off Airport Road,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 6574890

215AED net Soft drinks
310AED net Wine, sake, cocktails
370AED net Sparkling wine

Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I was invited by the hotel to try the brunch.