Farzi Cafe arrived in Dubai with a bang only a month ago and has taken the food scene by storm. I was committed elsewhere on BOTH the fantastic blogger events that took place for the launch (thanks so much for the invite Ishita), so I made it a point to go in for a tasting at the earliest and weigh in on what the hype was all about. From what I’d heard, the fanaticism was pretty unanimous -with the exception of one blogger who’s opinions I usually agree with- so I was very curious to see whether I’d get “Farzified” or not. From everyone else though, I kept hearing how Farzi Cafe is the “Tresind on a budget” – this was a tall claim considering that Tresind served me one of the best meals of my
blogging life life. Verdict: Farzi Cafe humbled me and my friends with a very delicious meal and an extremely pleasant evening.
With retro lightbulbs, modern chic interiors, very welcoming vibes, unwaveringly friendly service and delicious food that was dressed to impress, it was no surprise that the bistro was bustling with happy customers and nearly a full house even on a weekday. Many of the serving dishes seemed unnecessarily flamboyant and added no value to the actual dish, but these days it seems that every other restaurant is capitalizing on the theatre of the absurd and the weirder and quirkier it is, the more attention it will grab (both in real life and (hence) on social media). Snap, share, and there you have it: free (sometimes viral) word of mouth.
We started off with a berry yogurt Amuse Bouche. I didn’t quite understand why and how that would rev up my appetite. Pani Puri Shot: 1, Berry Yogurt: 0
I had a Pina Colada with pineapple caviar. The taste was on point, but I wasn’t very happy drinking out of a non-disposable straw (I have something against reusing plastic). While the Pina Colada scented smoke was a great touch, and I loved the pineapple caviar, I felt that the twisty glass for the actual drink was quite unnecessary- not all that glitters is gold.
The Bootlegger was a very refreshing berry drink….
…..but the Karak Chai soda was the real showstopper. Big wow. It was strongly spiced with cinnamon but still oh so refreshing. We absolutely loved this drink the most.
The pictures of the Daal Chaawal Arancini on Instagram are what really got my attention. I love it when techniques from one cuisine are used with ingredients and flavors from another, and this one really made me go “Hey. Why didn’t I think of that!”. This was brilliant. Placed atop a tomato coulis, and topped with achaar mayo, mint chutney and a crispy poppadum, this appetizer was a winner.
The Tandoori Wild Mushroom with truffle, tomato and walnut crumble on top was a bit of a disappointment. Here’s why: it announced it’s arrival with a strongly fragranced truffle smoke/vapor steaming out of the pipe, which naturally leads one to expect to distinctly taste truffle in the actual dish- and that didn’t happen. Now I understand that one eats with all 5 senses, and perhaps the fact that I tried the mushrooms was long after the smoke had died out contributed to my disappointment, so I’m going to give this one another shot next time I go.
The Hommus Sampler (or shall I call it extravaganza) was a classic example of what I would do. Love Hommus? Yes. Can’t decide which one to make? Yes. Let’s make them ALL? Yes. Our favorite was the curry leaf hommus, but they had flavors randing from harbenero, through spinach, edamame, jalepeno, to Pindi channa. Guess what the let down was though? The crackers and chips weren’t crispy.
The Tempura Dynamite Prawns were the bomb.com. Served with a lemon chili foam and flying fish eggs, these are the spiciest dynamite prawns I’ve ever had. Big fat love.
Another hit: the Raj Kachori filled with sweet yogurt and served with fried okra on the side and topped with a tamarind chutney foam. The foam is 100% tamarind chutney but 0% of the calories and I loved, loved, loved this. It was a burst of sweet & sour freshness!
I don’t like Shepard’s Pie. Never have,
never will till I had this deconstructed version. At first glimpse I thought that roasted rosemary potatoes atop mashed potatoes was redundant, but it really works. The juicy succulent cubes of Grade A Wagyu cooked in Indian spices melted in our mouths and this was a truly commendable dish. I’m honestly starting to think that no one does beef as well as the Indians!
Aubergine Moussaka with cous cous: fail. The peanut sauce was too bitter and the presentation was sloppy.
Burmese Khao Suay- or an Indian version of it. This was nice, but my Burmese husband rejected its authenticity and said it was only Burmese inspired- which is fair enough and the case for most dishes across all cuisines: we take inspiration and flavors of the original
The Ras Malai Tres Leches was the Dessert of The Night. Saffron milk, carrot cream, Ras Malai, caramelized rose petals = a really, really pleasant dessert.
Meanwhile the liquid nitrogen risotto Firni was all all pomp and show but frankly these liquid nitrogen tricks are becoming a dime a dozen now and sadly the flavors were underwhelming.
I just could NOT stop drawing comparisons between Tresind and Farzi Cafe, throughout the meal. There were just far too many similarities between the two (perhaps due to the fact that the menu was developed by the now chef of Tresind, who previously headed Farzi in India), but there were two prominent differences: 1. Farzi is significantly more affordable and easier (on the pocket) to frequent 2. It’s undeniably a step behind in terms of taste. Don’t get me wrong, it was all extremely delicious, but due to the unavoidable comparison with Tresind, I couldn’t help but identify some nuances and areas for improvement. Regardless, it’s a great place to bring guests or come to in large groups, because ice-breaking entertainment is guaranteed, and Farzi Cafe is easily the most popular spot on City Walk 2, and one of the top choices for mid-range Indian food in Dubai.