“Hello, I’d like to book a table for 5 for dinner at the restaurant.”
It was an easy enough booking process for a table at China Grill. But what initially seemed to be simple turned into a bit of a hassle; the restaurant is actually accessed from the garage, through a driveway right before the hotel. The hostess checked our booking in her notes and led us -the first 3 to arrive- to a low table at the lounge, facing the impressive bar. When I inquired why we were being seated at the lounge, she explained it was due to our “smoking” request and that wasn’t allowed at the restaurant. I was surprised that the lady who took the booking on the phone asked me if we wanted to sit in a smoking area without clarifying that would only be at the lounge, when I had specifically asked for a table for dinner at the restaurant -not even knowing they had an upstairs lounge. That got sorted fast and we went downstairs; the hostess showed us to a square table of 4, apparently not having properly checked that our reservation was for 5 people. So she led us again to another table, a larger and more comfortable one. Although it had been set and waiting for a new party, there was a forgotten water stain next to one of the placemats, and it was left there throughout the whole night. After making our selection from the interesting menu and despite following up on our order several times, we waited for a good 30-35minutes for any of the food to arrive, including the edamame which are usually ready much faster. At that point, the small mishaps got me worried and wondering if the night would get any better.
And then came the food… And everything got much better! With 2 of us living in Dubai and the other 3 coming from another city, a mix of generations from the early 20s, 30s and 60s, and different interests, we all definitely found common grounds in the delicious dishes that night.
The Beijing Duck salad with crispy wontons & blood orange dressing was a bit disappointing as the pulled duck strips did not taste as good as expected. That’s the only non-praising comment any of us made about the food. Because the Crackling Calamari bites dressed with lime miso were perfectly crispy and light, the Tuna & Crab Tartare laying on a bed of guacamole and accompanied by bizarre-looking but pleasant edamame crostini was delectable, and the Salt & Pepper Soft Shell Crab flavoured with yuzu ponzu was totally flavoursome.
Our “large dishes” the Grilled Garlic Shrimps with black fettuccini -squid-inked to my cousin’s great pleasure- were divine! The shrimps and fettuccine were scrumptious, sweetened with a zesty yet sweet red curry coconut sauce. The lush Lobster & Scallion Pancake with a side of truffle butter merged two of my favourite ingredients: lobster and truffle. We liked the truffle butter so much we asked for an additional serving, and some of us even mixed it with the savoury Wasabi Mashed Potatoes we ordered as accompaniments. The mashed potato mixes offered in the menu are quite interesting and we’re looking forward to trying the Lobster Mashed Potato next time. Not a big fan of rice, I was still taken in by the tasty Fried Rice with eggs and diced veggies.
Our meal left us with little space for dessert, but we couldn’t resist the artsy, colourful cake pops we spotted on a nearby table: strawberry, passion fruit, blueberry & lychee Cheesecake Lollipops, as explained by the very nice and funny Egyptian waiter who took care of us during dinner, adding a joyful vibe to our evening. The biggest surprise came with the Bananas In A Box; the bananas were nowhere to be seen and instead, a mouthwatering chocolate dome stood before us. The waiter drowned the dome with liqueur, flamed it, and in a matter of seconds, the chocolate melted onto the dish, revealing caramelized bananas, vanilla ice cream and macadamia nougatine. A bit heavy with the alcohol, it was still a feast for the eyes and the palate.
China Grill is definitely a must-try for its divine food, creative dishes and marriages of flavours and ingredients, but keep in mind the hefty prices on many of the dishes. To spice things up, the restaurant proposes several activities throughout the week: Madame Butterfly ladies night on Tuesdays, Enter The Dragon supper-club event on Thursday nights and the new decadent and fun Friday Toy Brunch in a party atmosphere.
China Grill / The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi / Al Sufouh Road, Jumeirah Beach
+971 4 511 7333 / www.chinagrillrestaurant.com/dubai