Many establishments have a tendency to talk themselves up – the 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant at the luxurious Anantara Villa Padierna Palace does the opposite, for this is far more than a sushi bar, it’s one of the finest dining experiences available today in Marbella and surroundings.

The fact that this is a special restaurant elevated above the majority becomes clear the moment you set foot in it. First, there is the always impressive arrival at the Anantara Villa Padierna Palace, whose palatial structure stands elegantly overlooking the rolling greenery of a manicured golf course. With mountain ranges on one side and the Mediterranean glistening on the other, this is a desirable spot to come for an evening drink or fine dining experience.

The Anantara Villa Padierna has become a landmark and one of the most luxurious resort hotels on the Costa del Sol; it now forms part of the prestigious Anantara hotel brand, an established concept of luxury in Asia. The Anantara Villa Padierna Palace is the first Anantara resort in Spain, providing the perfect backdrop for a very special dining experience.

The 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant has a charming terrace that takes in this atmosphere, but for all but the warmest months of the year you’ll want to enjoy the wonderful ambience and décor of the interior, which will come as a surprise if you base your expectations too much on the name. Firstly, the restaurant’s design isn’t very obviously Japanese in its look, and secondly, it is far removed from a normal sushi bar, for this is one of the most elegant restaurants in the Marbella area – with service and food to match.

Japanese Delights

The cuisine on offer at 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant similarly surpasses ‘typical’ Japanese restaurants and ranks among the finest, with dishes that are best described as delicacies so beautifully prepared and presented that they not only taste heavenly, but form the basis for a very special experience. The concept has gone down very well in places like Madrid, Barcelona and Abu Dhabi, where 99 also has establishments. Interestingly, the décor of each is adapted to its surroundings, so ‘our’ version at the Anantara Villa Padierna is indisputably the most refined and luxurious.

On a balmy autumn evening we started off with a refreshing glass of Kirin Ichiban beer, which is surprisingly well matched to the Maki taster we were offered while studying a menu made up of tempting sushi combinations, tartar dishes, meat, fish and seafood delicacies, tempuras, sea salads and a series of enticing entrées. To start, we chose from the latter categories, keen to find out what the Tiger Prawn Tempura, the Sea Urchin Cocktail Tempura and the Chicken Gyozas would taste like in an establishment like this.

The truth is: gorgeous! We were definitely not disappointed, for the presentation, service and ultimate taste sensation were all five-star deluxe. I would never have put myself down as a sea urchin enthusiast, but tempura battered and presented in a glass cup it was soft, succulent and filled with a rich but gentle flavour. Chicken gyozas are a favourite of mine, and this version, served with saffron, toasted almond sticks and spicy passion fruit, was exceptionally delicious. Even so, these taste sensations were quite possibly outdone by 99’s most popular dish, the tiger prawn tempura.

Made on the Spot Perfection

The luscious rich flavours make these dishes a kind of sophisticated comfort food that simply hits the spot, and it’s amazing just how well it goes together with Spanish wine, in this case a white Rioja Tempranillo 2018 from Abel Mendoza. Crispy, with a touch of fruity sweetness, it’s also a good match for the sushi selection that followed. Larger than the typical maki, they are made to order there and then by skilled hands and a passion for Japanese perfection.

The Dragon Maki features prawn in bread crumbs, sea crab and avocado. Simple enough, but when made by a master from the finest fresh ingredients, it stands out from the usual experience to become something truly special. The same can be said of the soft-shell crab and the Matsuri Roll, which blends fresh avocado and tuna with spicy flavouring and jalapeño sauce. For sushi lovers this is a died-and-gone-to-heaven moment indeed!

Superlative Flavours

With a menu like this you’re spoiled for choice, so our suggestion would be to come back and spoil yourself all over again. It being our remit to enjoy a representative sample of the fantastic offering of this superb restaurant, we were easily tempted to also try one of the gorgeous meat and fish dishes, the latter being a special treat in the form of Sakana Nabe, which sees fine fish fillets set within a bouillabaisse sauce with sumptuous foie. The combination is simply toe-curlingly good!

Given all of this, the Wagyu Ribs with Saikyo Miso remains a highlight. Slowly prepared over 20 hours, it simply melts on your tongue, creating a taste sensation that is out of this world. An evening as special as this was completed in style with a glass of sparkling Sake, another first for most of us. In summary, while it may be called a sushi bar, 99 at the Anantara Villa Padierna is a Japanese couture dining experience that ranks among the very best!


Urb. Los Flamingos Golf, Ctra. de Cádiz, Km 166, Marbella. Tel: 952 889 151.