Okku Brunch Review: Retro Disco Tunes and Decadent Asian Cuisine

  • June 1, 2024
Okku Brunch Review: Retro Disco Tunes and Decadent Asian Cuisine

Five years after the original Okku – a beloved Japanese restaurant frequented by Dubai residents in the know – closed its doors, version 2.0 opened at the Marriott Resort on Palm Jumeirah. Nearly a year later, this stylish Asian restaurant has launched its first-ever brunch, and it’s nothing short of spectacular.

This is no ordinary DJ-and-buffet affair. For one, it’s disco-themed. Imagine mirrored orbs of varying sizes suspended from the ceiling, perfectly in sync with the trio of glowing aquariums filled with photorealistic LED-projected jellyfish. Performers in feathered headdresses and sparkly outfits glide through the makeshift dance floor on rollerblades, adding to the retro ambiance.

The music, too, is a delightful blast from the past – irresistibly groovy. Who can resist shaking a leg to Abba’s "Gimme Gimme" or the Spice Girls' "Wannabe"? Even if dancing isn’t your forte, you’ll find yourself singing along to Cyndi Lauper’s "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," Bob Sinclair’s "World Hold On," and Boney M’s "Rasputin."

The dimly lit venue, with its industrial-chic ceiling, red brick walls, colorful sake barrels, and life-size Samurai sculptures, evokes memories of the “day discotheques” I frequented during high school and college. Judging by the nostalgia-fueled exuberance of the crowd, ranging from 30 to 50-somethings, I wasn’t alone in this sentiment.

The Food

After that energetic soundtrack and the lively performers – and feeling almost 18 again – I wasn’t expecting the lavish spread served at Okku’s Disco Brunch. The food offering is divided into four elaborate parts: a buffet-style sushi bar, sharing-style salads and appetizers served at the table, a choice of mains served with a seasonal side dish and unagi or steamed rice, and a dessert platter to share.

Contrasting the retro vibe, the menu is tailored to suit a mature palate. At the snaking sushi bar, fresh Dibba oysters and seafood mango ceviche with tapioca chips await. Four types of skewers are part of the buffet. While I’m a fan of both mushrooms and prawns, the chicken kushiyaki skewers tempted me back for seconds. They were excellent – firm yet not chewy, and laced with delicate Asian flavors without being overpowering.

The sushi selection truly shines in this first course. Premium yellowtail Hamachi aburi vies for attention alongside seared salmon nigiri topped with crunchy seasoned tauki and creamy tuna maki rolls.

It’s tempting to fill up on the first course alone, but then you’d miss out on the delicious chicken karage and Wagyu gyoza in the second course, complete with a freshly made sweet chili-soy dressing.

The second course also includes a seasonal salad with an indulgent Asian dressing and miso soup upon request. The one disappointment was the spicy salmon crispy rice, which tasted like the base had been fried beforehand and left out too long. I didn’t have room for the wasabi tiger shrimp, but it’s available should you desire a platter or three.

For mains, the miso black cod is a must-try – an Okku signature. However, my party of four found the chap chae glass noodles (perfect for vegetarians), salmon teriyaki, and chili-miso chicken yakiniku to be equally delicious. Meat lovers can confidently order the Wagyu steak.

The dessert platter is best enjoyed after a bit more dancing and digesting. It features moreish banana, raspberry, and lychee sorbets topped with various crunchy garnishes, perfectly balanced by a bitter chocolate mousse.

Okku’s Disco Brunch is a delightful experience that combines retro disco vibes with a sophisticated Asian menu, making it a must-visit for brunch enthusiasts in Dubai.