Aya Dubai: Chef Izu Ani’s Asian-inspired eatery at City Walk

Named after the Japanese word for ‘beautiful’ and the Arabic word for ‘wonderful’, Aya Dubai marks Chef Izu Ani’s first foray into Asian-inspired cuisine. Join The Huntr as we share our (delicious) experience…

Chef Izu Ani is showing no signs of slowing down and is slowly but surely checking off the world’s cuisines one by one. With Mediterranean, Greek and International F&B concepts in his impressive restaurant portfolio, the British-born chef has now debuted Aya – his first Asian-inspired food concept. Housed within the same site that was once home to Galvin Bistrot & Bar in Dubai’s City Walk, Aya Dubai is fully licensed and open for lunch and dinner daily.

The interiors are cosy and feature an earthy colour palette complete with wooden and beige touches and little Asian-inspired trinkets here and there – including some beautiful Cherry Blossom trees. Inside, the ceiling has been decorated with a noodle-inspired installation, whilst outside the area is divided up with wooden slated doors and petitions. There’s a private VIP dining room and ample seating options for small and large groups.

The menu features a tempting array of dishes that all have a little Asian twist and are built to share. It has been created by head chef Christopher Blake (ex-Zuma) and is divided between sections for soups, mezze, buns, rolls, raw and rice, Josperyaki, mains and sides.

The Huntr started with the Padron Peppers (60AED), which are pan-grilled and spiced with kombu salt, and the Burnt Tomato Panzanella (95AED), which is a gorgeous dish comprised of heirloom tomatoes, burrata, and ginger ponzu. The Short Rib Gyoza (80AED) are filled with sweet, juicy meat and perfectly paired with a truffle ponzu dip and the Crispy Crab Rolls (65AED) with unagi and avocado were addictive. We also shared the (faultless) Selection of Nigiri (200AED) – a mix of otoro (tuna), hamachi (yellowtail) and sea bass, the Wagyu Katsu Sando (150AED), with Aya BBQ sauce and Hokkaido milk bread and the (deconstructed) Soft Shell Crab Slider (95AED). Onto the main event and since we eat our weight in starters, we opted to share the Spanish Octopus (175AED), which is glazed with red yuzu kosho and served with a coriander emulsion. The octopus was incredibly tender and we loved the fusion of Mediterranean and Asian flavours. For the side we ordered the perfectly-cooked Broccolini (55AED) with ginger, lemon and chilli and the moreish Spicy Grilled Corn (65AED).

To a delightful lunch on a sweet note we shared the Brown Butter Ice Cream (120AED), which is good for 2+ and crafted with olive oil and hazelnut crumble. It was sweet and creamy and we loved the beautiful texture combinations.

Drinks-wise Aya is fully licensed and offers a wide selection of mocktails, cocktails, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. We sampled two non-alcoholic signatures – the refreshing Lemongrass Iced Tea (35AED) and the Rubus Collin (35AED), plus the Ayana (55AED) Takamaka spiced rum based cocktail.

Insider tips: Outside dining offers a smoking and non-smoking section. Inside dining is completely non-smoking. Bookings recommended for Thursdays and weekends. Opt to sit outside if the weather permits. 

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