Sunday, August 28, 2016

Queen of the fancy Indian places

I've been eating out a lot recently, it's literally one of my favourite things to do.  And I like all the fancy places.  And Dubai has an abundance of them.

I've been to three of the best (and without doubt fanciest) Indian restaurants over the past few weeks in Dubai and thought I would whip up a post comparing the three I have been to.  I'd love to do some more food related/lifestyle posts on my blog which might be useful for residents and for visitors.

I love Indian food but can't tolerate very spicy food but nearly all the restaurants were super accommodating to my tastes. 


If you want to wow with the service and location, Amal at Armani is the one.  The interior is understated and lofty and showcases the kitchen and the creative chefs working behind a floor to ceiling glass wall.  The restaurant has a private terrace overlooking the Dubai fountains and sits within the Burj Khalifa.  It's such a beautiful place to have dinner.  The atmosphere is calm and sophisticated-this is not the place for a rowdy group dinner and the service was next level.  I couldn't reach across the table to pick up the dahl without our dedicated waiter beating me to it.  Yet it was never intrusive and Livin Joy (best name ever) was discreet, informative and helpful.  The restaurant manager even chatted to us and told me the exact last time I had been in the restaurant which definitely made me feel like a valued guest.  Interestingly enough, Livin Joy is the only waiters name I remembered from all 3 restaurants which shows what an impression his service had on me-and Dubai is a place where service levels in hotels like this is very high and you get used to it very quickly making it hard to stand out.

We chose the vegetarian tasting menu which worked out to be incredible value at AED300 per person and allowed us to try a bit of everything.  The 4 mini starters were sublime, especially the Paneer with the beetroot dressing.  The main dishes were plentiful for a tasting menu and served sharing style in little Thali dishes.  My all time favourite Indian dish is Paneer Makhni and although not on the menu, the chef made me one as a replacement for one of the more spicy dishes.  The food was relatively classic Indian fare with dahl, fresh roti, saffron rice and raita all served and everything was delicious and totally tailored to my taste.

Desserts were also traditional, with mini Rasmali and Gulam Jamun served and I went off menu and ordered their signature Chocolate Sphere because I had had it before and knew it was incredible.

Tea and coffee and petit fours are also included.

*Tip-for AED95 you can have unlimited soft drinks/mocktails-this is an incredible deal and one that we took full advantage of, especially as mocktails were around the AED45 mark each.   This wasn't advertised and Livin Joy told us about the package.

We were one of the first to arrive and the last to leave, we met the head chef and viewed several of the fountain shows during the night.  There was absolutely nothing negative I could say about this restaurant and it's firmly one of my favourites in Dubai.  Considering this is Armani, the value for money was amazing.  The total bill was AED880 for two vegetarian tasting menus, two soft drinks packages and my additional dessert.

I've also eaten twice at Hashi the Japanese restaurant on the ground floor at Armani-this is another exceptional restaurant with both amazing food and service.


Indego by Vineet has a brilliant reputation in Dubai and is so beautiful inside-it's warm and inviting and has a family feel to it and the staff have the confidence of people who know the food is great.  This was the only restaurant that I hadn't eaten at previously.  The restaurant manager was very friendly and as the restaurant was relatively quiet being midweek, spent time chatting to us about the background of the restaurant and the celebrity chef behind it.  This restaurant is perfect for family gatherings, date nights and business dinners alike.

Although they have a tasting menu we decided to order a la carte.  The tasting menu is a similar price to that of Amal.  We were treated to an amuse bouche first which is the bright yellow and pink dish below-it was a frozen beetroot coulis with yoghurt and passion fruit and it was absolutely beautiful-don't expect to get this if you go though-they change the amuse bouche every single day.

The starters here were absolutely incredible-I highly recommend the Tawa Tinkey dish which was Paneer and Roti pinwheels, Zucchini patties and tomato raita-I could have happily eaten it all over again.  I could eat it now!  The starters were creative but the main courses were more traditional-again we went for a Paneer dish, Dahl and a traditional vegetable Biryani enriched with dried fruits and paneer-all were delicious, particularly the Biryani.

We shared a Chocolicious Indego dessert which is their signature sampler dessert but it was heavy and a little too rich after what we had already eaten.  The 'chocomosa' or chocolate samosa and the chocolate buttons were delicious though.

The bill came to AED830 including soft drinks which I was pleasantly surprised about especially considering the quality of the food.  Again the staff were very happy to accommodate my non spicy palette and often checked that the food was to my liking.  This is definitely the place to go if you want a good quality Indian dinner in the Marina area and somewhere that is unlikely to ever disappoint.


Tresind is by far one of the most inventive and contemporary restaurants I have ever been to, but it has a price tag to match.  Having said that we ordered a lot of food because we wanted to try a bit of everything and experience the theatre behind the food.  I've been to lots of innovative restaurants before where they use techniques like molecular gastronomy but I've never been to anywhere else like this in Dubai-it's unique.

The dinner starts with a smoke filled urn being placed on the table to 'refresh your senses' and then with a complimentary deconstructed Pani Puri served as a shot.  The chef makes the dish at the table, talking you through each step and using molecular gastronomy to create each component.  There's a lot of liquid nitrogen and pizzazz about the cooking methods used and you pay as much for the skill and the show as you do the food.  It's a great place for groups and celebrations as long as everyone has the budget for it.  But it's certainly a 'wow' restaurant.  They do have a tasting menu but again we decided to go a la carte.  This was the restaurant I found to be least accommodating in terms of both recommending the non spicy dishes to me and also adapting the food to suit.  I found the waiter and the menu to be confusing and difficult to understand and in the end we just made our own choices.  One dish we were assured was not spicy was incredibly spicy.

There's a lot of small complimentary dishes given-small bread rolls, refreshing sorbets (two were served to us during the course of the meal-one sweet, one savory)  and the dinner closes with the presentation of Pan flavoured candy floss entwined into flowers and twigs set in an open top bus.  Sounds bizarre I know.  It used to be presented as a tree with candy floss hanging off it which was nicer.

One of the highlights for me is the Modernist Chaat Trolley which is prepared by a chef in front of you and is zingy and flavourful.  It again uses liquid nitrogen to freeze components of the dish and it's light and refreshing.  The trolley is designed to be shared and the more people, the bigger the dish.

Another highlight was the Paneer dish above, unfortunately I cannot find the Tresind menu online and can't recall the name of it and whether it was a starter or main (as I said the menu is extensive and confusing) but it was delicious.  We also loved the mock meat khurchan which was served in little thali dishes with pickles on the side with mini roti's pegged along a 'clothes line' for you to make your own mini wrap.   This also comes in a duck version for meat eaters which is one of their signature dishes.

I don't have pictures of the mains but there was a Paneer dish in gravy that was way too spicy for me, indian breads, dahl and an amazing take on a quiche with mushroom and goats cheese-not very indian but very moreish.

We went for another liquid nitrogen spectacular for dessert-the deconstructed black forest cake-chunks of chocolate sponge, caramel, cherries, redcurrants, frozen cream and an amazing amazing homemade fudge (apparently called Peda) which I literally picked out every square of.  Definitely a sharing dessert.

(photo credit who also has a brilliant review here (and much better photos than me but I wanted to explain the candy floss bus!)

Even the drinks are full of drama-my first one arrived in a treasure chest that was filled with liquid smoke and LED lights.

Tresind is probably the most innovative restaurant in Dubai that I have been to-and maybe because of that, it was the one that was the least accommodating of my palette.  I imagine a lot of the food is prepared to some extent to accommodate the overall presentation.  The food however is wonderfully innovative and you find yourself wondering what's next and how the next dish will look.  But it's also by far the most expensive place I ate-the bill was AED1770 which included soft drinks.  Worth it?  For a one time experience yes.  In future though I'll be sticking to their business lunch.

*Tip-the business lunch offered Sun-Thurs is amazing value at AED180 and a great way to sample some of the dishes.  Also, if you're feeling really spendy, try a Lava Lamp mocktail-it's a show in itself!

Please let me know if you'd like to see more posts like this on my blog-I'd love to hear your feedback!


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