Nov 23, 2013

"Peruvian Alta" cuisine presented at The Act Dubai

The Act Dubai is one of a kind venue featuring eclectic decor, an animated staff, and some of the most unusual performances I've ever seen.  I wasn't really sure about what to expect in terms of the quality of the cuisine at this supper club style concept, since the focus is usually more on the entertainment than the food.  The Act Dubai serves up a "Peruvian Alta" menu created by Chef Roberto Segura Gonzales.  He describes this as contemporary Peruvian.   Having a long standing flare for the culinary arts, Chef Roberto's passion "grew from his soul" at a young age and evolved throughout the years.  He now brings to Dubai a cuisine from his native country with a modern spin to captivate the diverse palates of the region.
On the menu one will find the items categorized from ceviche, tiradito, ensaladas (salads), enrollados (rolled items), de las calles a la mesa (street food), del fogon (from the fire/stove), and accompanamientos (sides).  The extensive variety made it difficult to decide, but nonetheless we narrowed down our choices based on some suggestions and flavor combinations that sounded the most appealing.  To begin with we enjoyed this Pulpo al Olivo, octopus with olive sauce, rocoto sauce, togarashi, herbs and olive oil.  Clearly inspired by the Japanese influence in Lima, this dish captured the best of both worlds.  The olive sauce with its sharp, salty, semi-bitter taste contrasted beautifully against the sweet octopus and spicy rocoto sauce. The presentation alone was a work of art, presented on the long black stone platter with edible petals, herbs, and a balance of gorgeous colors, this was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. 
Considered the national dish of Peru, ceviche was next on the menu.  This one in particular was made with salmon, coconut, Peruvian mango, and the famous aji limo chilli (a super hot chilli from Peru).  Plated in a gorgeous antique style vessel, the ceviche was fresh, clean, and sweet.  I enjoyed the quality of ingredients used here, but would really have liked a touch more coconut and chilli to enhance the ceviche eating experience.  The Leche de Tigre floating on the bottom of the plate was a sign that the ceviche had been marinating for just long enough.  This liquid contains the run off  of fish juices, lime, onion, chillies, salt, and pepper and is considered a hangover cure as well as an aphrodisiac in Peru.
Highly recommended by our waitress were the camarones con maracuya, a signature dish at The Act listed under the "Street Food" category.  Coated in red quinoa, deep fried and served with a passion fruit and rocoto reduction, no wonder this item was a favorite amongst guests and staff.  The crunch of the quinoa along with fresh avocado puree and a touch of the sweet and tangy sauce resulted as crowd pleasing dish. The sauce, although on the sweeter side for my liking could have used a bit more heat.  The flavor of the prawns was subtle, but the accompaniments and final execution brought everything together.  This dish was served as a main course, but it could've been enjoyed as a starter to whet the appetite and to prepare the palate for the authentic flavors of this Peruvian style feast.
Another main that came as a suggestion by the staff was the arroz con pato, a refined take on a classic dish.  The confit and roasted duck with coriander wet rice and a reduction of nectarine and orange played on a variety of flavors, texture, and colors.   The final dish pictured below was playful and appetizing,  although the duck was slightly overcooked and dry, this dish had the potential to be so much more.  I could imagine the beautifully roasted fatty duck breast, seasoned tendrils of rice and sweet citrus sauce all harmonizing  together in the perfect bite. 
For dessert we had just a few to choose, but the suspiro stood out as one of the more enticing options.  The caramel ice cream with coffee sponge and mixed berries is another interpretation of an old Peruvian sweet called the Suspiro de Limena translating to, "a Limean woman's sigh".  It couldn't have been more accurate, because upon first bite, this unassuming little scoop of ice cream took my breath away. The cool caramel against the warmth of the coffee sponge and the nutty cocoa powder all played into each other magically.  Simple in execution, it was the perfect way to end this meal against the back drop of the unusual performances at The Act.
Overall an evening spent at The Act will be filled with fun surprises every hour, whether it's the bouncing seven foot tall rabbit man creeping up behind or the gravity defying acrobats that swirl around the stage. Let's not forget the Peruvian treats prepared at the hands of Chef Roberto who has redefined South American cuisine for the Dubai market.  The quality of the food in this atmosphere is above standard and has changed my perception of dinner theater with a menu that is worth a try.

The Act is open every Sunday and Thursday from 9pm-3 am.  Make sure you call ahead for reservations to this unique dining and entertainment experience!

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