With more American smokehouse concepts hitting Dubai, Penelope Walsh explores the art of smoked food.
From Eastern European smoked fish (that is reputedly where smoked salmon originated from), to American pulled meats and Chinese tea-smoking, smoke has a culturally diverse repertoire when used in creating delicious dishes. Following the launch of smoking-inspired eatery Fumé (the name means ‘smoked’ in French) in Pier 7, there is news of yet another American-style smokehouse concept coming soon, launching in Madinat Jumeirah. Inspired by this emerging trend, we look at who’s smoking their own salmon, duck, and even soup in Dubai.
Aspen by Kempinski
Ever heard of smoked soup? Well, at this café, you can try it. Classic, creamy tomato soup is topped with a pastry crust, and served under a glass cloche, which is infused with smoke directly before serving.
Dhs55. Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 341 0000).
This grape bar has given a smoky twist to the classic French dish of confit duck cassoulet (a sort of bean based stew). In this recipe, in addition to confit duck, the dish contains smoked duck meat, and also smoked beans, all done in house using hickory.
Dhs120. Conrad Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 444 7444).
New to Dubai’s smoking dining scene is this American-style restaurant, which closes briefly every day to smoke its own meat and fish dishes. On the menu for you to try are items such as classic smoked salmon, as well as southern-style meat recipes of pulled beef brisket in a brioche bun, and the highly recommended six hour smoked beef chuck rib.
Dhs98 (beef chuck rib). Pier 7, Dubai Marina (04 421 5669).
This award-winning venue (Time Out Dubai’s best Chinese restaurant, don’t you know) puts a modern and refined spin on Chinese tea-smoked recipes. Try the beautiful wagyu beef ribs, delicately smoked with jasmine tea.
Dhs150. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 384 8484).
At this all-day dining restaurant, one of the recipes you can try from the buffet is Horizon’s 12-hour hot smoked beef brisket. The brisket is prepared Texan-style, marinated with a dry rub, flavoured with hickory and spices. Horizon has created its own smoker by converting a conventional oven, and the meat is then hot smoked in house at around 86˚C.
Dhs159 per person for buffet (food only). Amwaj Rotana, The Walk, JBR, Dubai Marina (04 428 2000).
Smoking is a globally used cooking technique, and in Chinese cuisine you may often see tea-smoking. Karma Kafé’s own version of this classic technique is salmon marinated in cherry miso and smoked with (the already pretty smoky) Lapsang Souchong tea. For added drama, the dish is served still smoking, at the table.
Dhs159. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 423 0909).
Indego by Vineet
Michelin-level Indian chef Vineet Bhatia’s Dubai restaurant serves a dish of salmon cooked in a traditional Indian tandoor oven. The smoky element comes just before the dish reaches the table, when a charcoal and ghee smoke is infused under a glass cloche, which is then unveiled at the table.
Dhs120. Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 399 8888).
La Petite Maison
One of the signature dishes at this popular French haunt is the ‘côtelettes d’agneau’. Underneath these delicious lamb cutlets you’ll find a flavour-packed accompaniment of smoked aubergine puree.
Dhs175. DIFC (04 439 0505).
La Porte des Indes
This Indian-French fusion spot uses the traditional tandoor oven to smoke ‘rubiyan jhinga’ (tiger prawns). The prawns are marinated with garlic, star anise and coriander, and then smoked using charcoal.
Dhs175. The Address Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 438 8610).
Here’s a mind-boggling dish for you. Smoked salmon is technically not raw, since it is ‘cured’ (and consequently preserved) through the smoke. But a tartare is a dish made with raw flesh. At La Serre they have intriguingly played with these definitions to create a ‘smoked salmon tartare’, which is prepared by ‘cold smoking’ the fish. Herbs such as rosemary and bay leaf are placed on top of charcoal to created scented smoke, but, by placing ice over a strainer this creates the cold effect of the process. According to La Serre, this cold process better retains the nutrients in the fish.
Dhs85. Vida Downtown Hotel, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 428 6969).
Maple Leaf Restaurant
The Canadians are masters of smoked meats, which are the filling of choice for Montreal’s favourite crammed sandwiches. Sounds good, right? Well if you’re eager to try, look no further than Dubai deli café Maple Leaf, which smokes all its own meats for the sandwich fillings. Items to try include beef smoked for some 11 to 12 hours using a mixture of oak and cherry wood, chicken smoked with apple wood, and even potatoes smoked with hickory.
From Dhs45 (original smoked meat sandwich). Jumeirah Beach Road (04 338 3001).
This restaurant represents the old guard of self-smoked dishes. The speciality at this mall-based eatery is salmon, in all its guises, but specifically smoked salmon, which is prepared from Scottish salmon in the company’s Dubai-based smokehouse. On the menu, you can choose traditional smoked salmon or marinated smoked salmon, as well as non-smoked fishy delicacies such as gravlax.
Dhs85 (traditional smoked salmon). Mall of Emirates, Al Barsha (04 341 0222).
Scots American Grill
One of the spree of new American-style grills, Scots is in fact so new that at the time of writing it was still in its soft launch phase. Here, chefs are preparing smoked salmon with quite a difference, the cedar wood roasted salmon steak. The wood plank is soaked in white grape for half an hour, and then the salmon is grilled on it, which infuses it with a smoky, aromatic flavour.
Dhs140. Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf, Oud Metha Road, Al Jaddaf (04 317 7700).
Modern Japanese haunt Toko Dubai offers two house-smoked dishes. Firstly, duck breast smoked with oak wood and teamed with goma, aubergine and pickled nashi pear. Also recommended for a smoky dish is the delicious miso smoked salmon.
From Dhs110 (smoked roast duck). Vida Downtown Hotel, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 442 8383).
So the lesson, if you’ve read this far seems to be that you can pretty much smoke anything your imagination allows for. So how about an avocado? Well, smoky flavoured avocado anyway. And if that sounds intriguing, you best head to Toro Toro, where the smoked guacamole is enlivened with a little smoked chipotle chilli.
Dhs60. Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 399 8888).
This Polynesian themed bar and restaurant is quite a hot spot for smoking enthusiasts. A speciality at Trader Vic’s is the use of an oak wood fired oven, and the style of technique, dates back to the Chinese Han Dynasty (that’s all the way back in 206 BC – 20 AD). Dishes prepared using this ancient Chinese oven include barbecue soy marinated chicken, Indonesian rack of lamb and Creole marinated prawns.
From Dhs88 (barbecue soy marinated chicken). Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 5646). Other location: Festival City (04 255 9000).
New York steakhouse West 14th serves two different dishes on the menu that are both smoked by the restaurant itself using hickory wood chips. The first, a more classic hot smoked peppered mackerel, the second a more unusual salad of smoked beetroot, teamed with a beetroot balsamic puree, candied walnuts, shallot confit and mushrooms.
From Dhs59 (smoked beetroot salad). Oceana Beach Resort & Spa, Palm Jumeirah (04 447 7601).