Fusion food that falls short of the serene surroundings Reviews

© ITP Images
View slideshow
  • Picture 1 of 2

Because of this Vietnamese restaurant’s French twist, I became used to pronouncing Vôi as ‘voir’ (in the French participle sense of the word). This proved a problem with the staff at Zabeel Saray who insisted on referring to it as ‘Voy’. I’m not sure who’s right – that’s not the point – but these differences in enunciation made both booking a table at Vôi and finding my way to the restaurant rather confusing.

More confusing, however, was arriving to find the vast double-door entrance of Vôi closed. With no one around to usher us in, I gave the door a shove only to tumble into a restaurant full of people. I felt as if I’d just interrupted a dinner party. The waitress assured me I hadn’t, but nonetheless lead me back out of the restaurant. To my relief, she only wanted to check my booking rather than eject me from the premises.

Once I eventually took my seat and settled down, I was able to appreciate the elegant grandeur of the venue. One thing the Zabeel Saray can never be accused of is doing things by half measures and, just as with the hotel’s other restaurants, Vôi was splendid. All shimmering silvers and brilliant whites, with the feature wall providing a splash of textured black, the high-ceilinged venue captures the essence of yin and yang. Three huge windows adorned with heavy ivory curtains line the restaurant’s far wall, while dainty tables are scattered thoughtfully around four mirrored support columns, which break up the floor space nicely (and conveniently stop the ceiling from falling in, as columns tend to do).

The waitresses were as sleek as their surroundings and all the more charming for their polite nervousness (which perhaps explained their over-attentiveness throughout the evening). After having to decline the bubbly aperitif for a second time – once more than I’d care to – my date and I proceeded to nose through the menu of unpronounceable Vietnamese dishes categorised under appetisers, soups, seafood and meat dishes. In the meantime, our appetites were kept at bay with a basket of delectable warm French rolls, prawn crackers and steamed buns, which I was foolhardy enough to devour even before I’d ordered my noodle soup and pot eu feu starter.

Pot eu feu is a quintessential French stew, which in this case had been given a suitably Southeast Asian twist with rice noodles, a sprinkling of chillies and a dash of lemon. The dish was hearty, without being heavy, but I was left longing for a little more punch in terms of flavour.

My date, meanwhile, had taken a decidedly more Vietnamese route with her colourful snowcrab salad – the crispy crab and soft, succulent cuts of fresh avocado and juicy mango made for a medley of taste and texture. The fresh, zesty starter set her up nicely for the crispy pacific cod, resplendent with clams, chilli and garlic and a side of coconut rice. But, as with my soup starter, the more exotic ingredients skulked rather than shone, and failed to make an impression on the palate. Nonetheless, the cod itself was near faultless, its pristine soft white flesh providing a divine contrast to the crisp skin.

While the interestingly named ‘souvenir from the colonies’ (duck, foie gras and asparagus) that I’d ordered for main lacked the dainty presentation of the other dishes, it nonetheless offered a diversity of tastes and textures thanks in large to the shining pillow of foie gras perched atop the vividly flavoured duck breast. Nonetheless, the dish belied its promise of French-Vietnamese fusion – there was too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

This conundrum is perhaps indicative of Vôi’s biggest failing. It’s a magnificent venue, but the food veers towards the unexciting. If the resident Chef Phuong Mai was given a free rein to exercise her colourful culinary heritage, she may be able to elevate Vôi from a good restaurant to a great one.

The bill (for two)
1x Avacado salad Dhs85
1x Pot au feu Dhs65
1x Pacific cod Dhs195
1x Duck Dhs185
1x Sparkling water Dhs30
Total (excluding service) Dhs65

By Oliver Robinson
Time Out Dubai,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.


  • Location: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
  • Tel: 04 453 0444
  • Travel: The Crescent (West), Palm Jumeirah
  • Website | Send mail

Is this your establishment? Want to update any details? Please send your updates here.


User reviews

  • Users voted this restaurant most suitable for: Family friendly

User reviews:

Posted by: Jc Fourrier on 24 Sep ' 13 at 04:49
  • Best for: Romantic
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Excellent eatery, probably the best table we have been in Dubai. You usually end up paying a lot for the place and end up being disappointed with the food.
Here the ingredients were prime quality and fresh, the taste refined without too much salt or sugar as you often find in Dubai.
We had the tasting Grand menu, which was great value at AED400.
A couple of Viet classics like Nem, seared beef and Tuna tartare were just perfect and as you would find them in this beautiful land.
The two mains were great: scallops like you would find in Brittany cooked to perfection, grilled but still juicy with a nice emulsion. The duck (la cannette) was as good as what you would find in the South West of France: tender and strong in taste.
Not a sweet tooth but really loved the dessert: white chocolate, coco ice cream.
Service as in a Michelin starred restaurant, with a smile.
Congrats Voi, will come back!

Posted by: Dudley on 06 Aug ' 13 at 11:44
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

They have tried with the decor but it doesn't really work - it is not impressive or enjoyable. The ambience was awful with the lights turned up too high and the music is some horrible stock Vietnamese whiny music that just gets a bit much after a while. The staff were perfectly nice though.

The worst part was the food - it was either too bland or was salty without being tasty. And there was a bit too much spring onion in everything. One or two things were good such as the blackened cod and the scallops, but in a restaurant at this level everything should be impressive. I left feeling like it was a waste of money.

Posted by: Nouf on 11 Mar ' 13 at 05:40

A romantic date with my husband, we chose the chefs special, we loved it. the staff were very quick at getting everything ready and perfect; explained every meal. i would definitely recommend it big time!

Posted by: durand on 01 Nov ' 12 at 15:38
  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

really enjoyed the discovery menu

fine cuisine,

a little expensive


Posted by: mohamed almheiri on 18 Jun ' 12 at 07:57
  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

The service, decor and ambience are excellent. However, the food was really really bad. It did not feel any special nor tasty. We had starters, Wagu steak and sea food. I dont recomend this rest.

Add your review/feedback

Your Rating (Min. 1 star, zero stars will be treated as unrated)
Yes No

Subscribe to Restaurants newsletter

Prove you're not a robot:



Explore by

Our favourite features