My memory may be wavering a bit but I guess this is my first visit to a Michelin starred chef’s restaurant & definitely a first visit to a branch of a Michelin starred restaurant. Having been through the history of Chef Vikas Khanna in detail, there is a sense of pride & admiration for him taking Indian cuisine on to a global platform where it is seen beyond the Curries, Naan Breads & Butter Chicken!
A friend from Jordan was visiting Dubai & when he said I am in Trade Centre area & want to try out Indian food, we decided to head out to Junoon. An impromptu mid week lunch was accommodated by the Reservation team & we soon reached Junoon in Shangri La Dubai. A light tingling in my stomach arose partly due to the excitement of visiting Vikas Khanna’s restaurant, partly due to anxiety as to whether my friend would like it & majorly due to the hunger growls after being stuck in traffic.
The Ambiance is grand to say the least. As our waiting team informed us, the Carvings & wooden furniture was flown in from Rajasthan. So were the chandeliers, which led a traditional royal look to the place.
But then, the Open Kitchen reminded us that we were there for a Modern Fine Dining Indian experience.
The Staff around is very cheerful. The entire dining experience was a breeze. We were walked through the Business Lunch Menu & also the Thali. Their intervention helped us choose what I believe the Best out of the menu in front of us. They even gave us a small tour of the Open Kitchen & Chef Suraj came out to meet us. Big Thumbs Up to the smiling staff.
We opted for the 3 course Business Lunch & a Non Vegetarian Thali. An a la carte Order of the Eggplant Chaat was ordered basis recommendations of fellow diners in the past.
Eggplant Chaat: There are times when you hear/read about a dish so much that you have tasted every flavour of it even before you see it. And even after that, the Eggplant Chaat just Wowed us with the crunchy fried eggplant fritters topped with some sour tamarind chutney, yoghurt & chaat masala. Never could imagine an Eggplant fitting in to a Chaat, but this changed everything.
In the Business Lunch, opted for the Murgh Tikka Mirza Hasnu, Gosht Awadhi Korma with Rice on the side & a trio of Kulfi Tasting.
The Murgh Tikka was creamy, soft, yet had a pepper kick to it & was easily one of the best Kebabs ever. This is what I mean by taking Indian food to the level of fine dining. No Molecular mumbo jumbo, just Dead smash good flavours.
The Gosht Awadhi Korma had the lamb shoulder tender cooked in a cashew rich yet perfectly balanced gravy. Served along with steaming Basmati Rice, this was a perfect Mains Dish.
The Desserts was a trio of Kulfis – a Guava sorbet, Cardamon Kulfi & a peanut Butter kulfi. My pick was the Guava Sorbet which actually can be a great Palate cleanser with its tart yet intense guava flavours. The Other 2 Kulfis were the letdown of the meal with the peanut one akin to eating a spoonful of peanut butter itself.
The Thali which my friend ordered came in with a Dal Makhani, Cucumber Raita, Naan, a trio of lamb, chicken & fish curry.
I managed to dip my spoon in each of them & the stand out was the Chicken cooked in a South Indian style with coconut milk & tempered with curry leaves. The fish with the rustic Punjabi Masala managed to blend in delicate fish & robust flavours at the same time.
The Final Bill came to 385 Dhs which is pricey for a 2 person Lunch. But, the food is real fine dine Indian flavours & is a treat for special occasions.
The Final Verdict from my friend was that he loved this different take on Indian food. I was happy that they managed to elevate Indian flavours & quell all the tingling in my stomach. We will return back for special occasions to Junoon.