A restaurant/bar/lounge serving Nikkei-style cuisine, which is basically Peruvian and Japanese fusion, is not something we have come across in Dubai, but we definitely found fascinating. We visited Aji during their soft launch. The venue is really well done with a beautiful bar setup, but the food sadly wasn’t all that it’s hyped up to be. There aren’t many good chicken dishes on the menu and a scarce amount of vegetarian ones. However it is a primarily seafood oriented menu, so if you prefer that you have a variety of options.
Our verdict: Great venue, well decorated and it’s by the water. The food is a bit of a hit or miss but if you’re a pescatarian this is a nice place to check out with friends and catch up over drinks and food.
We were told that most of the food at Aji is mainly sharing plates. The only problem was that the portion sizes did not give us that impression at all. One of the sharing dishes had only two small skewers of chicken. We also found the prices to be much higher and so it wasn’t really good value for money given the portion sizes.
Hatori Maki [AED 72]: This was easily the best dish we had at Aji. The maki was well put together, filling and delicious. Great mix of flavours with a crab and prawn filling and the addition of Parmesan crisps on top was an interesting twist.
Limeño Ceviche [AED 55]: A pretty good ceviche we must say. The fish was lovely. Moist and succulent with some great tangy flavours, could have done with some more citrus though. Grilled corn kernels topped it off which was a great added texture.
Tori [AED 85]: The dish was served on a little coal grill. The way the dish is served is really nice as it keeps the dish warm throughout. The chicken was a bit chewy and had the sauce it was coated in wasn’t what we expected. A bit too sweet. The portion was just two small skewers, definitely not worth the price and odd to classify as a sharing dish.
Tori Karaage [AED 50]: This was basically fried chicken strips with some dip. The presentation was great as the chicken comes in a little basket making it really easy to share. The battered bite size pieces had a great crunch to it. But we’re not sure it was anything special.
Mixed Veggies [AED 68]: This was also served on a coal grill but once again the portion sizes were disappointing. Two small skewers of mushrooms coated with a similar sauce like the tori. And a small chunk of a grilled corn cob.
Papas Doradas [AED 32]: A better dish out of the two vegetarian options we ordered. Fried potatoes tossed in a flavourful sauce. Not bad overall.
Chinca Baja [AED 34]: A very tasty, fruity drink that was served in a copper tumblr. Well presented and refreshing.
Porteno [AED 34]: This drink was pretty decent. A bit too much ice though. After we finished the drink, what was left was ice cubes that filled half the glass.
Choco Lava Cake [AED 45]: The cake was served with two scoops of matcha tea ice cream and some matcha tea marshmallows. The lava cake was delicious with a well done cakey exterior and deliciously gooey chocolate filling. The cake also went well with the ice-cream although it is worth pointing out that both the scoops of ice cream were completely different from each other, one was too strong while the other was perfect.
Chicha Morada [AED 45]: This was a cake dessert with white chocolate pieces and garnished with fruits. The white chocolate was very disappointing as it was crystallized with ice like you get with refrozen ice cream. The cake was also not all that special. It was set over a berry purée and a sorbet to accompany it which was the best part of the dish.
The service at Aji was pretty decent for a new restaurant with staff who might not know the menu completely. To start off, we entered Aji from the a door that wasn’t the main entrance. The hostess at the reception was quick to see this and approach us, following which we were promptly seated. The service in general was really nice with the staff being very friendly and forthcoming with information. Aji is still very new, being only a few days old and so many times we were asked to wait while the waiter checked up on details. This was understandable and they handled the situation very well. The only negative part was when we specifically asked if the desserts had egg, as one person in our party was vegetarian, the server initially said with confidence that there wasn’t. However, we insisted that they confirm this with the chef, as it turned out, the dish had egg. Thankfully no harm done.
Aji as a venue is divided into two parts, the bar and restaurant. You enter a reception area where a couple of hostesses will greet you and have you seated. We had made a reservation before hand and so were expected. From the reception you can go right, towards to the bar side of Aji, or left, towards the restaurant side. The entirety of Aji is interconnected so you can go into whichever section you like, but it is nice to have the two separate entrances. Makes the place seem classy. Aji also has an outdoor seating which is overlooking the water
The restaurant side of Aji is done up in a more casual way with some tables having bench style seating, some more traditional seating and even a private room for groups or parties. There was a seafood counter where they show you the different types of fresh seafood that you can order.
The bar side of Aji has higher tables which are a natural fit. It had a darker style to it with big chandeliers and an entire wall with a print of birds. The bar itself was very interesting. There is a manual ice machine and the side wall had a brick style with graffiti al over. That side also had small semi-circular booths for groups to sit in. Of course the main highlight of this area is the bar itself. We really liked the way it tied into the rest of Aji, it was classy and modern.
To Book or not to Book
Since this was Aji’s soft launch, we were required to make a booking. We only had an email address through which to book on however they have options to reserve a table online through Zomato.
How to Get there
Aji is located in Club Vista Mare, which is on the stem of Palm Jumeirah. If you don’t know where that is, then you are not alone. The entrance to Club Vista Mare is easy to miss, especially at night because the entrance board is not lit and very dark. Your best option is to use Google Maps (link below) or some form of GPS in your phone or car.
By Car: To get to Aji by car you have to drive to the Palm Jumeirah, go over one flyover, then take the service lane. You will pass Milk and Honey Gourmet, the entrance to Club Vista Mare is after Asya’s Nursery. On the right you will find a sign for Club Vista Mare. Take a right at the sign board, head in and park wherever you get a spot. Walk in through the main area till you get to the waterfront, turn left and Aji is the second restaurant.
By Cab: The biggest landmark is Palm Jumeriah, but if the driver knows Club Vista Mare, then you are in luck as all you need to do is get to that location. If they do not know the way please follow the steps above.
Public Transport: You have the option to take a metro+tram to a close by station and then take a taxi, but there is no specific way to get to Aji purely on public transport. Take a metro to the Damac Properties station, then take a tram to the Palm Jumeirah Stop. From here you must find a taxi to take you the rest of the way to Aji.
Once you enter Club Vista Mare, head to the waterfront and Aji is the second restaurant on the left. Its fairly easy to spot as the area is not very big.
- Hatori Maki: AED 72
- Limeño Ceviche: AED 55
- Tori: AED 85
- Tori Karaage: AED 50
- Mixed Veggies: AED 68
- Papas Doradas: AED 32
- Voss: AED 29
- Chinca Baja x 2: AED 34
- Porteno: AED 34
- Choco Lava Cake: AED 45
- Chicha Morada: AED 45
Total (for four): AED 583