Dubai; Voi, I can’t begin to describe how eagerly I’ve been awaiting your opening. Ever since FooDiva reviewed your cousins, North Indian Amala and Turkish Lalezar at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on the Palm, I’ve been counting the days…so a month into opening here’s our restaurant review.
Voi’s cuisine is French-Vietnamese straight from the heart of French colonial rule in 1920s Vietnam. Chef Phuong Mai, a Vietnamese national from French influenced Hanoi calls the menu “authentic Vietnamese with an inspiring French twist”. The finesse of French cuisine married with the intense, vibrant flavours of Vietnamese, what better relationship could you ask for?
But firstly it’s the grandiose interior that captured FooDiva’s attention; soaring ceilings, glittering crystal chandeliers and a monochrome theme, all lend themselves to sophistication and elegance. But too much bright light makes for an awkward atmosphere. Dim a little to recreate some of that 1920s romance.
After indulging in too much bread; gosh those bloomer-style buns were delish and an exquisite Vietnamese rice paper roll as amuse bouche, we settled on signature items; a good way to test a chef’s skills. So many dishes appealed, it was truly a difficult choice.
FooDiva opted to start with a marinated grilled quail salad – slightly poached eggs drooling over the warm, generous chunks of quail breast – enough to mix in well with salad leaves and al dente asparagus spears. Heavenly. My dining companion highly rated his blue prawns with tangy guava, fennel and Nuoc Mam; a traditional Vietnamese fish dip. Sweet and zesty.
Whilst many main courses called out to the diva in me, I do love duck; the French duckling (canette) breast was cooked rare as I love it, and topped with a generous chunk of foie gras – all on a bed of brussels sprouts, asparagus and tamarind sauce. A little too much fennel for FooDiva’s liking, but that’s a personal choice – I would definitely order this dish again, sans the fennel.
My friend’s crispy Pacific sea bass was dished up on a bed of clam sauce infused with garlic and red chilli, and accompanied with coconut rice which you couldn’t help but mix in with the fish. If it’s at all possible, imagine a healthy version of a green fish curry. That’s what I love about French-Vietnamese; quality, flavoursome ingredients cooked ever so simply.
We did manage to squeeze in a shared dessert; a banana baked and served in its skin with a warm chocolate spring roll and honey ice cream. FooDiva may not be a decadent dessert diva, but this take on traditional baked bananas was sublime. I was almost begging for more of those crispy spring rolls oozing with dark hot chocolate.
The Vietnamese waiters, whilst a little submissive, did know their menu, and the young French Maitre ‘D was hovering around the restaurant all night checking in on diners. They also came up trumps with a mini chocolate cake for my friend’s birthday. Initially for an 8.30pm reservation on a Friday, the restaurant was pretty quiet, but by the end of the evening it had filled up.
The bill for two including two glasses of Lychee bubbles and a wonderful French bottle of Crozes-Hermitage came to a grand total of AED 1,226 including a 10% Sirius dining club discount. For that price, it’s certainly a special occasion restaurant, but one that’s well worth a booking. Hoi An at Shangri La Dubai now has some strong competition. Voi am so glad you lived up to FooDiva’s high expectations – it most certainly will be a bientôt. Here’s to a four out of five knife rating.
Oh and before I sign off, the hotel’s cigar lounge, C Club deserves a night cap or two.
Have you tried French-Vietnamese cuisine in Dubai or elsewhere? Love to hear your take on it.