When two trusted foodie pals both gave Waka a thumbs up, the restaurant seemed a perfect place to meet up with some of our oldest Dubai friends (stopping through on a trip from Singapore to the UK). Navigating the super fun construction dilemmas of Business Bay, we entered the lobby of the Oberoi and made the left towards Waka, located on the ground floor. Once inside, my perpetually early self managed to sneak in two very nicely priced cocktails (AED30) off the happy hour menu (6-8PM) while we waited for our guests. After an additional drink or two at the bar, we made our way into the dining room. While Hubs deemed it ‘like a cafeteria,’ I was a bit put off by the relatively low ceilings and smallish tables. Yes, intimacy can be nice, but I think sometimes it’s just another word for crowded. However, the interior decor did not seem to deter others, as Waka was nearing capacity throughout the evening.
While I appreciate a menu that has a lot of depth and variety of dishes, I wish more restaurants would do as Toro Toro Abu Dhabi have done, and put together some a sample menu which makes decision making painless (while highlighting signature dishes). Instead, I found myself constantly referring to the Waka menu for each course (and storing it on the floor while I wasn’t using it…). I could have used a bit more support from our server in making decisions, or he might have been a bit more proactive in suggesting a plan to maximize the menu. Fortunately, I did reasonably well for our selections, and I would happily order everything again.
So, the pacing of the meal was where it needed to be, the music at a decent volume, and the conversation flowing, but of the strangest things for me to suggest this year, my feedback has to do with the leftover sauce from the two ceviche dishes we ordered. As you might imagine, we found both ceviches delicious, but with a lack of deep spoon or really, any method to retrieve the remaining liquid, left a fair amount in the bowl. While our server suggested we take turns lifting the container up and drinking the remainder (!), I’d not yet consumed enough Pisco Sours to do just that. Nor did I see anyone else doing the same. So, the bowls were cleared, taking away their delicious, delicious sauce with them.
While everything placed in front of us disappeared quickly, my favorite dish was one of the signature plates, the Short Ribs, served with corn risotto, purple corn, and red wine sauce (AED150). These were wonderfully tender, and I most likely should have doubled our order (as I’m sure the serving size was not intended for four people, but two).
Related and unrelated to this visit, is ‘marination’ a word, and how often can one use it in the description of a dish?
Would I go back? Yes, but probably just for brunch. Our cost per couple (with drinks) would have been around AED1,000, which seems a bit high for what we received. A brunch would undoubtedly be the best bet towards sampling most of the menu without breaking the bank.
Can I (should I?) compare Waka to the litany of similar dining venues in the city? I can, but I’m not going to. Much like when choosing a steakhouse in Dubai, with nearly identical price points, offers, and menus, it often comes down to location. If you’re near the Oberoi, go for it — you’re not going to be disappointed.
Have you been to Waka yet? Where’s your favorite Latin American/Peruvian in the city?
A to Za’atar was a guest of Waka. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.