Kayto Pop-Up Dubai Review: “why is this temporary?”
Dubai hasn’t embraced pop-up restaurant culture.
That probably has something to do with the fact that most restaurants in Dubai open and shut (to then re-open and re-shut) with such pace that there’s isn’t much need for pop-ups in the city.
Such is the variety of concepts, the abundance of locations and incessant restaurant launches here, that the need for a chef to showcase his/her talents outside of their own branded space simply doesn’t happen. That, and the inability for many kitchens to obtain licenses outside of pre-approved hotel or mall locations, make the pop-up a bit of a non-starter in Dubai.
Of course, that hasn’t stopped Jumeirah Al Naseem from attempting the impossible.
It has just launched a new Peruvian/Japanese restaurant (Nikkei) outside its lobby terrace, with a menu put together by celebrated Japanese-Argentinian chef Cristian Goya.
But does Dubai have the stomach for a restaurant that by its very nature is temporary?
Kayto Pop-Up Dubai: What’s the vibe?
Many of the more celebrated pop-ups around the world tend to operate in private homes, former factories and other more ‘out there’ locations. Not so for Kayto.
The restaurant features views over the Burj Al Arab, along with Al Naseem’s swimming pool and garden areas. Ask for a seat near the open windows, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better view of one of Dubai’s most famous landmarks.
It does beg the question, “why wasn’t this a restaurant in the first place?” as well as the follow-up, “why on earth is this just a temporary pop-up restaurant?”
You can sit indoors or outdoors, and while there is a DJ most nights of the week he never lets the decks get out of control – by that I mean you can always hear your dining partners.
Kayto Pop-Up Dubai: How’s the food?
Nikkei menus are a bit like a ‘choose your own adventure’ novel featuring the best from both Japanese and South American cuisine.
You can have sushi or ceviche (or both), meat and fish dishes make use of Asian spices (miso, wasabi, ginger) combined with Latin American cooking techniques, and – while we are ashamed to use the culinary world’s laziest term – it is a solid fusion of both cuisines.
More importantly, the menu isn’t obscene and it’s obvious that Chef Goya has put a selection of his favourite dishes on paper (instead of throwing every plate of food he could think of at it).
Kayto Pop-Up Dubai: The verdict?
Kayto isn’t a pop-up restaurant in the same way as places in London or New York. There’s nothing about the location or staff that suggest it’s in any way temporary, nor does the menu insinuate that the chef is experimenting with new dishes.
That might be an issue for some, particularly those obsessed with the vernacular of what a pop-up is, isn’t or should be. However, as a restaurant, Kayto delivers in spades. The food is good (but more importantly, it's interesting) and you couldn't ask for a better view or location.
Kayto Pop-Up Dubai: Where is it?
Kayto opened up this month and has a sell-by date of May 2020. It is located outside the large glass doors of the Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel’s lobby area.