This is a good time to be alive and to be in Dubai, for it is the month of the Dubai Food Festival (erm, well, it was when I started writing this review *embarrassed face*)! Crowd goes wild? Crowd goes wild. What’s better, is that my parents were here during Dubai Restaurant Week (DRW), and I got to take them to one of the best places possible for a tourist who wants to snap some frame-worthy pictures: Mina Al Salam in Madinat Jumeirah. Our restaurant of choice: Zheng He’s, because we all love Chinese food as it if were our native cuisine.
Since it was DRW, we tried one of the set menus (priced at AED 189), and ordered some additional ala carte items for a different variety. The set menu included a plate of King Prawns with Chinese mustard and spicy mango for appetizer (which I would later discover put all other “Dynamite Shrimps” to shame), slow cooked “Wu Xi” beef ribs with oriental BBQ sauce and Yong Chow style fried rice, and a Chinese Citrus tart with Meringue and Bergamot. I know i should get to the details later, but the Yong Chow style fried rice was the best fried rice I’ve EVER had, and the ribs melted in our mouths like butter. And despite the fact that we were stuffed till our nostrils, we just couldn’t resist reaching for one spoon after another of the citrus tart. Even though it was indulgent enough to hit the spot, it was still light and citrusy enough to be enjoyable even after a huge meal.
While we waited for our appetizers to arrive, we were brought the best bowl of spicy sesame and honey roasted cashews. Thank God the bowl wasn’t any bigger or we would have finished that too.
Our appetizers included:
- The king prawns from the DRW set menu: these were the biggest, fattest, juiciest, most delicious fried prawns EVER,
- An assortment of Dim Sum;
- The prawn Har Gao were perfection. The spicy chili sauce to go with them refreshingly tasted home made. I get so offended when my intelligence is insulted with store bought sweet chili sauce at restaurants that claim t o serve gourmet food; luckily this was not the case here.
- The Spinach and Vegetable dumplings were also good but the spinach was only infused in the dough and the vegetables didn’t have much flavor to them.
- Spicy Chili Crab buns: easily the best steamed buns I’ve ever had. They weren’t very conventional, as they were smaller, and the dough to filling ratio was smaller than what I’m used to having, but it worked, and it worked better than any steam bun I’ve had before and the sweetness of the crab was in perfect balanced.
- Soft Shell Crab: This was surprisingly very mediocre. The batter was way, WAY too oily and with every bite, we felt bursts of oil in our mouths. The best soft shell crab I’ve had remains at Fume .
We also tried a couple of soups, as it was a particularly chilly evening:
- Roasted Pumpkin Soup: which had a crispy shrimp wonton atop a creamy soup that had clams, squid, and tofu and tasted like velvety comfort.
- the Hot & Sour soup wasn’t as “hot” as my mom would have liked but was a good bowl of hot & sour nonetheless.
For Mains, we had:
- A beautifully presented Sweet & Sour Sea Bream fillet that reminded me of a much better version I’ve had of the same dish, at Safi .
- Kung Pao Chicken (which was one of the top Kung Paos I’ve had)
- Beef Short Ribs from the set menu (I don’t know if you can draw the pattern, but my choice of menu items was deliberately such that each dish was a different protein)
- And the BEST tofu I’ve had anywhere: the Sizzling Spinach and Black Mushroom Tofu. This tofu was silken, and topped with a hearty chicken gravy that took this tofu to a whole new level that I never imagined tofu to be at. It was definitely the entree that stood out the most.
Our choice of starch was a plate of Chow Mein and I’d be very happy in an entire bed of this Chow Mein for the rest of my life.
We were beyond stuffed as the portions were much larger than I had expected them to be, but our server suggested we go for a light fruit platter dessert with a chocolate shell encased lychee sorbet, as it’s quite the spectacle- and it was right. All eyes were on our table (much to my chagrin) when the fresh fruit was brought over smoky liquid nitrogen (the biggest fad these days). What the server forgot to remind us, was that the Citrus Tart from the set menu was yet to come too. The citrus tart was one of the best composed, most cohesive desserts I’ve ever had. Every element complemented the other harmoniously. The crust was a little hard though, and the meringue looked like it’s too much but everything came together like a match made in heaven. The only part I found confusing was the green “lemongrass syrup” on the plate (or what the server claimed for to be lemongrass syrup), which didn’t have the faintest hint of lemongrass in it. I was a big, BIG fan of the lemon sorbet that came with it though. It had just the right amount of tartness.
We concluded our evening with a pot of lemongrass tea and I can confidently say that this was one of the best meals I’ve had till date; the impeccable service, the mouthwatering food, the most AMAZING view, flawless ambiance, and of course the company of the most important people in my life (minus one very significant M), made this an unforgettable evening that I can only hope and pray for an encore of 🙂
Zheng He’s, you’re going to be one of my favorites. I promise.
You can make a reservation for an unforgettable evening at Zheng He’s in Mina Al Salam, Madinat Jumeirah on 04 4323232 and 04 3666159