A pastry chef, an amateur chef and mixologist, and two foodie writers walked into Lana Lusa…
Sorry, that wasn’t the start of a joke. That’s actually what happened. And we sat in that cute lil’ corner right there.
Turns out that all four of us have been wanting to check it out for a while now, so off we went. Lana Lusa is located in Wasl 51, and there’s plenty of underground parking if you’re driving to the restaurant. The restaurant interiors + the terrace are meant to exude an authentic Portuguese vibe, and while I’ve not been to Portugal, it definitely transports you into a whole other setting. I loved the personal touches of cookbooks, family photos and knick-knacks all around me; it just added to the whole vibe.
Lana Lusa is not licensed – however, it does have a non-alcoholic beverage menu that tries to make up for it. We tried the Lusa Spritz (with cucumber water, rose water and non-alcoholic champagne), and while I liked it enough to have two, if you don’t like rose water, this is definitely not for you. One of our party tried the Aljezur (made with elderflower syrup, lemon juice and non alcoholic sparkling wine), although their opinion about it was fairly neutral.
Ah, but the food…
The starters, in my opinion, were the stars of the night. The marinated sardines with toast on the side were a more-ish delight, and it was all I could do to not hungrily slurp up the sauces that the gambas (prawns) were sitting in. It’s what the bread is for, and it is appreciated. Codfish can be found all over the menu, and in the starters, I really loved the simple fried salted codfish with lemon – an easy bite, I felt slightly forlorn after I realised I’d consumed it in one go. I wanted more! The tempura on the menu initially confused me, but apparently (and I did not know this!), it’s the Portuguese who brought their version of tempura to Japan in the late 1500s, which then became a staple. I did a little digging, and found multiple articles that suggest the Portuguese introduced the peixinhos da horta to Japan – which is what we tried that day!
We had the seafood cataplana for our main, and justice was done to the ingredients – I will highlight, though, that the beautifully cooked Portuguese rice made the main course pop that much more. And I already have my eye on a few other mains I want to try the next time: including a monkfish dish, a codfish main, and ‘Portuguese duck rice’.
We finished off our meal with the pastéis de natas and the Magic Cookie. The former was a pastry delight, the soft, custardy filling oozing out as we bit into the buttery crust. Goodness, they were beautiful. I think we did make a mistake ordering the latter; it felt very heavy after a night full of eating. It was a great dessert, but to me, didn’t stand out the way the pastéis de natas did.
With the pastéis de natas and the marinated octopus taken off the bill, the total for the night worked out to around AED 250 per person, without tip. Would I go back? As I said earlier, there’s definitely more dishes I want to try, and some I want to savour again (all that codfish, I’m looking at you). The restaurant also serves breakfast, which in the current weather, I’d love to have on the terrace, thank you. I’ll be seeing you soon, Lana Lusa.