Tasca by José Avillez
Time Out Says
The only other conflict you should anticipate, however, is to be mentally wrestling with yourself over whether to go back and do it all over again straight after dessert.
Because it’s that good.
Because this place, the first international restaurant from acclaimed chef José Avillez, might just be one best restaurants to open in Dubai in 2019.
And we’re not just talking about a knockout pastel de nata.
Set at the top of the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Tasca’s floor-to-ceiling windows reveal Peak Dubai views. On one side, a rooftop infinity pool and dining area overlooking the Arabian Gulf, and to the other the glittering strip of Sheikh Zayed Road skyscrapers, Burj Khalifa stretching up in the centre.
Inside, the vibe is casual, warm and well sectioned up, with low lighting, minimalist furniture and playful pops of colour.
It is, as Avillez has previously said, not fine dining. We’d agree, certainly in terms of setting. But the food dissents. Gloriously.
Portions are small, but all the better for it.
Two small tempura cod cakes are almost frivolously light. Cones of wagyu tartare are unapologetically rich and tongue-quiveringly tangy, while Algarve prawn ceviche arrives served on lime halves, which we’re directed to bite while slurping each slice down.
Staff are hugely effusive about the menu, Portuguese cuisine and even Avillez himself.
As you can probably tell by now, it’s contagious.
On opening Tasca, the chef told Time Out Dubai that as a child, he wanted to be a carpenter.
One bite of his ‘pica pau’ pan-fried wagyu only varnishes our relief that he chose a career in the kitchen instead. Literally meaning ‘woodpecker’, inspired by the cocktail sticks typically used to eat the small cubes of meat that make up the dish, Tasca’s swims in an umami-packed sauce so complex it probably has its own therapist.
This isn’t depth of flavour. It is the Marianas Trench of flavour.
And so it is we find ourselves staring down at empty plates of Portuguese custard tart and olive oil and honey cake, wondering whether we could feasibly do it all over again.
It would be a feat, an achievement (possibly a new life’s ambition realised).
But nothing on the scale of the absolute triumph that is Tasca itself.
WHAT IS IT...
Small plates with bombastic flavours
To experience dishes from one of Portugal’s most acclaimed chefs
By Time Out Dubai staff | 18 Aug 2019
Recommended for you in Restaurants
The sky-high restaurant is hosting a brand-new party
Tasting night dates announced for August and September
Sponsored: Expect tasty dishes and luxurious décor
Italian raw seafood special will run every Wednesday evening