Aug 20, 2013

Oberoi Dubai's Brunch with a Twist served Tapas Style

The presence of 5-Star luxury hotels and glamorous over the top brunch displays are all too common in Dubai.  But when we entered the all day dining restaurant Nine7One (cleverly named after the UAE country code) at the brand new Oberoi hotel in Dubai, a new type of buffet has graced the market.  The concept is steering away from the norm and focusing in on small bites from an eclectic mix of International cuisine.
It's difficult to find a starting point because there was so much to choose from.  But hotel Executive Chef Dirk Haltenhof had a few tricks up his sleeve, and our attention immediately transferred over to him as he performed a culinary feat for us this afternoon.  Not only is Chef Dirk passionate about the food, but as well as the technique behind it.  That being said Dirk gave into his curiosities and featured some molecular gastronomy on the menu.  Pictured below is an example of some of the experiments on display including a lemon soda sphere on top of caramel soil. The preparation was fascinating and it was interesting to the eye, but they are somewhat of an acquired taste.  
Just across from the molecular gastronomy station was the tower of freshly made pastries and rolls.  This was right up my alley and I have to say the croissants were beautifully executed.  A crispy exterior filled with buttery layers of deliciousness, I managed to eat the whole thing and still saved room for more food.  Amongst some of the other baked goods was a cinnamon roll, pain au chocolate, doughnuts, danish and fruits tarts to name a few.  

After my first round of food, I realized I needed a bit more of a strategy if I was going to make it to every station in the restaurant.  I paced myself and took a gander at what stood out of the ordinary and decided to to start there.  My eyes were immediately drawn to the Japanese section where the food was meticulously being prepared with precision and symmetry.  Pictured below are Japanese Takoyaki, a ball shaped snack filled with octopus, tempura, pickled ginger and green onions. Not only did they look super cool, but they also tasted DELICIOUS! One of my favorites of the day, and a reason to go back to Nine7One restaurant for brunch, as they are one of the few places serving this item in town. 

Next up on the "out of the ordinary" list was the compressed watermelon and gazpacho bottles.  Presented in the multi-tiered ice sculpture both of these items stood out amongst the rest. The gazpacho was refreshing and just the right portion size.  Although the touch of cream is not something I am used to when enjoying gazpacho, it still kept the texture and taste light really highlighting the key ingredients, tomato and cucumber.  The compressed watermelon on the lower tier of the ice sculpture almost resembled ahi tuna.  The compression technique not only intensifies the flavor, but also the color and changes the texture slightly.  This particular watermelon was paired with fresh mint prior to compression, which allowed the herb to infuse into the fruit.  This was an innovative and fun idea, and a great talking point for several of the guests and staff. 

Also available amongst the starters were Indian, Spanish, Thai, and, Arabic specialties including the following:

Guindilla (pickled green pepper from La Rijoa)
Calamari con chorizo (squid rings and beef chorizo salad with parsley)
Sardina blanco con aceituna (white sardine and green olive skewers)
Rice paper rolls with tamarind
Prawns with green papaya salad
Herb goat cheese and grilled pepper roulade
Compressed water melon with mint
Oyster with pickled onions and lime
Balsamic glazed figs with mint
Babaganoush cornet
Gazpacho con Ajo Blanco
Ceviche of king fish
Dahi kachori
Dohkla with green apple
Fried idli with gun powder and coconut chutney

If that wasn't enough for starters the mains course was even more extravagant!  The item that caught my eye was the Roasted Tomahawk Steak and Tenderloin sitting on top of colorful vegetables at a carving station.  The meat had been beautifully presented, but was just slightly over done for my liking.  The flavors were spot on and the quality of the cuts was spectacular.    
Nine7One has tapped into the idea of creating a memorable meal by tasting bits and pieces of dishes from all types of cuisines.  The concept is not unheard of, but to execute it the right way is tricky.  This is one of the plates I came back to the table with (I went back for a total of 5 rounds including 1 for dessert).  Starting from the top: 1. Merlot braised octopus with polenta, 2. Seven Hour Braised Wagyu Short Ribs, 3. Seared Tuna, 4. Quail Egg Bruschetta, 5. Sliced Tomahawk Steak, and in the center a 6. Roasted Lamb Slider. All were tasty, but my favorite out of this plate was item number two.
Although the dessert displays looked enticing the thought had barely crossed my mind with so much of the savory on offer.  What Dirk did go out of his way to show me was the milk and white chocolate fountain located smack in the middle of the buffet area.  He was proud to show off his dual chocolate contraption, and said they were special ordered from the UK.  Served alongside the fountain were mandarin marshmallows, fresh fruit skewers, meringues, and chocolate truffles.  But the list for sweets goes on and on to include:

Mango choux
Raspberry baked yogurt
Caramelized banana and milk chocolate mousse
Philadelphia cheesecake with basil macerated strawberries
Apricot seradura
Lemon tart with lychee panacotta
Crème caramel
Chocolate and pecan nut brownie
Hazelnut and berry stack
Red velvet cake in glasses
Gajar ka halwa
Gulab jamun
Om ali
Aysh al sarayh

In addition to the cuisine, the staff also needs to be recognized for their hard work and attention to detail.  They were the most engaging of hotel staff I have come across and really went above and beyond the call of duty.  The women were dressed in bright royal blue and always seemed to have the sweetest smile across their face.  The men wore traditional black slacks, white shirts and formal black vests, equally as smiley and efficient as they took  drink orders and cleared the tables. 

The Oberoi Tapas brunch will give you something to think about days after you've experienced it.  With so many unique items and styles of presentation, it's difficult to choose one favorite item.  The brunch is available every Friday in Nine7One from 12.30pm to 4.00pm from 30 August onwards. They have few different packages available. 

Tapas Brunch
270 AED / person including soft drinks
380 AED / person including soft drinks, house wines, spirits and Prosecco
550 AED / person including all above and Champagne

Head down to the brand new Oberoi hotel in Business Bay which belongs to one of the most decorated hotel chains in the world for an experience you will cherish for years to come!

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