DUBAI Many moons ago, I had one sushi too many in a Japanese joint that left me with severe stomach upset. I literally crawled to a pharmacy at 4am to get relief.
So when I was asked to review the buffet at Creekside, a Japanese-inspired Asian restaurant at the Sheraton Dubai Creek, I was seriously apprehensive. At the very least, I was prepared to get bored. But what I saw was totally unexpected.
Me and my dining partner (lensman Arshad Ali) first surveyed the different stations. The Tepanyaki corner served chicken, beef and eight types of vegetables to be grilled for you.
The soup station served miso (seaweed) with soybeans and bird’s nest soup while a corner with hot dishes served everything from Thai green curry and Indian fish curry to dumplings. At the Wok stand, chef Jonel stir-fried veggies and meat to top three types of noodles (glass, rice and egg noddles).
The tempura stand had rolls with sauces galore. The seafood area served fresh oysters (no hammour and pink-eared sherry here as the restaurant adheres to sustainable dining), lobsters, salmon, fresh green mussels and crabs – I counted 15 types of seafood.
The sushi and sashimi station had 10 varieties of sushi and five sashimis – salmon, tuna, octopus, crab and egg omelets. Twelve items filled the salad bar while the dessert corner had sago, tiramisu, cheesecake, chocolate cakes, all sorts of fruit tarts and mousse – all made in-house.
I found it tough to decide where to start. Desi, the restaurant’s Bulgarian manager and our amiable hostess, was keen to please and told us to relax and let her and her team do the job. Though I found this odd or contrary to the idea of a buffet dinner, we obliged. But Desi knew her place well.
We began with the bird’s nest soup, which I found unremarkable for a start. Or was it the nightly Dubai Shopping Festival fireworks that lit up the sky over us that got me distracted?
But Desi was in her element, raving about her new-found chef, 43-year-old Rikko, whom she described as a “miracle worker” since he moved from Doha to Dubai. The evening got more interesting when Rikko himself came out declaring: “It’s time for indulgence.”
He held three of his many sushi specialities which had fancy names – Sweet Escape, Green Dragon and Crazy Maki.
Sweet Escape is made of salmon tempura dashed with oshinko (yellow pickled radish), a special fruity flavoured sauce, a special kabayaki (unagi eel), topped with mango strips. Green Dragon includes black tiger prawn tempura, unagi, kyuri (shredded cucumber), tempura flake, flying fish roe (red fish caviar) and topped with avocado.
Crazy Maki had had tempura flakes, crab sticks, spicy mayonnaise, tobiko, turmeric mayonnaise and red chilli.
No Japanese food aficionado worth his salt should ignore these. Together with four cuts of each, these are the ultimate hybrid Lexus of maki sushi.
“We call it the evolution of maki, a Westernised approach to sushi-making, with a touch of tradition,” said ‘Rikkosan’, architect by profession, but a chef by passion (he joined Creekside just four months ago).
The present Creekside team, not afraid to innovate, has created something totally new. “We call it creative evolution,” said Rikko. He knows what he’s talking about – the painstaking attention to detail shows in the dozen delights that emerge with each bite.
I rounded off my meal with the bite-size chocolate almond crumble and brownies which were simply irresistible.
I was glad the sushi experience this time around was so stomach friendly. The only downside was driving to the place; there’s the inevitable bumper-to-bumper conditions in early evening. But the food was worth all the trouble.
Cost: Dh189 per person, Dh239 (house beverage)
Location: Sheraton Dubai Creek, Baniyas Road
Timings: 7pm-11pm (last order)