Last Saturday, I was invited to try out Karma Kafe. This was one of those invites that excited me and I made it a priority to schedule it sooner rather than later, but sadly the overall experience left more to be desired. The service was warm and hospitable, and the food was sublime; but I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed. Perhaps this was because I went for a late lunch, and the venue is more popular at night? Perhaps because I asked to be seated outside where the flies reigned and buzzed fearlessly around and on our food? Perhaps a bit of both. Either way, I don’t think I’ll write Karma Kafe off for now, and will give it another visit at night–because as I mentioned earlier, the food was Grade A.
As you’re seated, you’re politely informed that the table is available to you for two hours. Understandable, since it’s such a prime location that grants you a view of Burj Khalifa, The Fountains and of the chaos that resides outside Dubai Mall.
M and I had the tasting menu priced at AED 399, to be shared between a minimum of two people (hence the total cost between the two of us amounted to AED 799), and here’s what we had at Karma Kafe:
Ceviche Mixto: Japanese scallop, calamari, prawn, celery root, pomegranate jewels and a coconut Yuzu Leche Di Tigre. Sounds delicious? It was, it really was. The yuzuz Leche Di Tigre was so delicious, I wish they made bath-bombs out of these so I could swim in it for ever and ever. However, I also found big chunks of roughly chopped up tomatoes, and whole olives that really did not belong in in there. Unsettling? Yes, but I just tossed them aside and continued to savor this sublime ceviche. Yum.
Salmon Tataki: Blowtorched salmon, julienned Granny Smith apples, parsnip crisps, pine nuts and herb miso. It wasn’t bad but could have used a tad more salt, so dipping it in soy sauce helped a lot.
Nigiri Selection: Yellowfin tuna, salmon, seabass and prawn; this was a delicious platter of nigiri.
Tea Smoked Salmon fillet pan-fried with a ginger-mirin glaze, and dotted with plum coulis. When I heard “plum puree”, I recoiled a little on the inside beause I was afraid it would be too sweet, but it was salty and tart and absolutely perfect. I could definiftely taste the smokiness, but since it came from oolong tea, it wasn’t overwhelming. This entree was a 9/10, and that too only because the presentation was very unappealing. Dots of red puree on the crispy salmon skin reminded me of reptiles.
Rack of Lamb: The lamb chops had quite a bit of fat on them, and while M isn’t a big fan of that, a lot of people are. Fat trimmed away, these lamb chops were phenomenal. They were brushed with a ginger-miso glaze and then slapped onto the robata for a beautiful char and sublime flavor. I especially loved the grilled aubergine that was also grille don the robata and hence had hints of the same glaze.
Dessert was a Peach Melba with some lavender honey on berries. I’d say the dessert was the weakest link in the meal.
Throw in a couple of mocktails and a sparkling water and our bill amounted to around AED 900. Now this is the part that bothers me (even though I didn’t pay for this meal). Yes, the food was very, very good. But Dubai is a market with fierce competition and lots of restaurants battling it out for your dollar. For AED 900, I could have enjoyed a better experience, paired with (at least) equally good (if not better) food at half a dozen locations in the area. Heck, Katana practically right downstairs offers a better bang for the buck and a menu that could give this one a run for their money. My suggestion is to go to Karma Kafe at night, for a fuller, more wholesome experience. Perhaps if you’ve gone for their Friday brunch instead, you’d disagree with me? Thoughts? Comments?