30 days to Taste of Dubai…and a Chi’Zen review
Dubai; Ooh FooDiva’s getting excited…calling all foodies, Taste of Dubai, the annual open-air restaurant festival returns in March with a great line-up of eateries, chefs, cooking demonstrations and musical entertainment. And guess what, we have an early bird ticket offer for you. But before we get onto that, FooDiva’s delighted to see Dubai’s latest fine dining Chinese experience, Chi’Zen in the festival’s restaurant roll-call. And what more, with Chinese New Year just around the corner, Thursday 3rd February to be exact (tis the year of the rabbit by the way), perfect timing for a FooDiva review, n’est-ce pas?
Newly opened Chi’Zen sits on the top floor of Dubai Festival City’s Marina Pavilion, overlooking the flotilla of yachts, and the all-be-it quite tacky ferris wheel glistening in the background. First things first, it’s licenced, unlike the other restaurants on that strip for now. An open-plan entrance, all decked out in Chinese red and black lacquerwood makes for a chic welcome. To the left sits a beautiful lounge bar, perfect for pre or post dinner cocktails (made even more enticing with a two for one happy hour offer). With the weather warming up, our trio opted for a table outside on the rooftop terrace.
Along with our menus, we were immediately served some fried cashew nuts, sweet and sour pickled vegetables (nice contrast), and jasmine blossom tea. The menu was overwhelmingly huge even by Chinese standards, so thank goodness my Brit friend, and an expert in Asian cuisine, took the ordering lead.
Appetisers; deep fried chicken with garlic pepper, and a selection of four different dim sum; steamed shrimp dumpling, steamed dumpling with chicken and shrimp topped with crab roe, steamed bun filled with BBQ chicken, deep fried spring rolls with chicken.
My friend forewarned me that I’d devour the deep fried chicken starter and sure, she was spot on; the garlic pepper seasoning sets your taste buds on fire. The BBQ chicken steamed bun was another FooDiva fave, but I must admit they were a little too mean with the chicken. The other dim sum (by the way did you know this Cantonese dish translates to ‘close to the heart’?) were perfectly acceptable, but nothing to bother blogging about.
Main course; half Peking duck with Chinese pancakes, Kung Pao chicken, shrimps and scallops with XO sauce, fried rice with mixed vegetables.
Excuse the pun, but you can’t duck into a good Chinese without Peking duck; carved at our table, the skin was crispy, tingling with a little fat and tender meat. For the first time in Dubai, the Chinese pancakes were freshly cooked from scratch, but not warm enough am afraid. The remaining duck was shredded and served sprinkled with breadcrumbs – yum. Both the chicken and scallops were delicious in their own way, but even with three large appetites we’d clearly overordered. I guess the cosmopolitan cocktails, which are divine by the way, aided digestion. The only dessert we could stomach, was freshly brewed jasmine tea.
Service was impeccable, and the manager even popped over to check up on us, quite a rarity in Dubai. Even though the setting, cuisine and service, make for a beautiful evening, Chi’Zen lacked punters on a Sunday to give it some atmosphere. But I hear weekends are busy. If you fancy great Chinese with a tipple or two, do add Chi’Zen to your wish list, or why not sample some dishes first at Taste of Dubai?
Whilst on the Chinese theme, well it is Chinese new year after all, it would be amiss not to mention P. F. Chang’s, the American chain of Chinese bistros – and another Taste of Dubai participant. With two locations at Mall of the Emirates and Mirdif City Centre, you’ll find good value, authentic Chinese dishes; FooDiva recommends the salt and pepper prawns, and the crispy green beans cooked a la tempura (addictive!).
And now for your Taste of Dubai (March 3-5) early bird offer; 2 Standard tickets for AED99 (a saving of AED51) or 2 Standard Season tickets (3 days) for AED199 (a saving of AED101). Quote DIVA on www.tasteofdubaifestival.com Offer ends 9th February. For those that have attended the event previously, the complicated dellas currency is no longer required, yippee! – simply cash or credit card with plenty of ATMs available.
Chi’Zen is open daily from noon for lunch and dinner. Tel; +971 (0) 4 2329077. Our very comprehensive dinner including three cosmos each (note, the last one was part of the happy hour offer) was AED 284 per person excluding service.
P.F Chang’s is also open daily for lunch and dinner (plus take-away). Mall of the Emirates Tel: +971 (0) 4 3951801. Lunch (starter, main course, tea and water) AED 110 per person.