First things first, let’s dispense with preconceived notions of Chinese food, high-end or otherwise. China Grill serves pan Asian food, despite the name, and there isn’t a stir-fry in sight.
Now let’s start at the beginning. We suggest you arrive early, dressed smartly as the efficient email confirmation (and subsequent text message) politely reminds you, so you can enjoy the bar. Our visit was on a Tuesday so it wasn’t bustling as you imagine it might be on a weekend, but the excellent cocktails (especially the Siam 75 whisky Sour) did more than enough to distract us from the lack of buzz.
The restaurant area itself has dark wood walls and elegant hanging lanterns. It’s a slick, modern fit-out, though the high ceiling means the atmosphere is slightly lacking until the room begins to fill, which in fairness it did quite quickly.
The staff were excellent from start to finish, drilled in the specifics of the menu and capable of guiding you through any dietary requirements. It’s a sharing concept and food comes as soon as it’s ready. Our meal began with the yellowtail sashimi with mango and orange-ginger marmalade, a delightful sweet and savoury starter, along with king scallop and lobster dumplings, which came with lobster broth shooters – a neat little trick.
Then things got really interesting. A duck salad looked incongruous but, thanks to the chef’s vinaigrette mixture, tasted amazing. And the highlight of the meal was a tuna and crab tartare with guacamole and caviar sprinkled on top, which you scoop up with triangles of edamame crostini. It managed to outshine a very good lobster and scallion pancake with truffle butter which arrived at the same time.
Last up for the mains was a smoked black tea tooth fish with Thai basil and pomelo salad. Every high-end Asian joint in town does some variation of this dish, usually with cod, and they’re all excellent. This didn’t disappoint and neither did it surpass the others; but you can hardly hold that against them – Dubai’s black cod wars remained locked in a stalemate.
We finished with a novelty. The waiter poured flaming liquor onto a chocolate dome, which melted to reveal a caramelised banana, vanilla ice cream and macadamia nougatine. It was a final flourish that capped an inventive, if pricey, meal in an attractive, sleek new restaurant.
China Grill, Westin Dubai Mina Sehayi, chinagrillrestaurant.com/dubai, +9714 511 7333