Yet another addition to the seeming slew of New York based hangouts popping up on Middle East shores, high-end Indian establishment Junoon has just opened its Dubai doors, bringing its Michelin starred status to the Shangri La hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road.
Rather than just simply replicating its original Manhattan restaurant, the team behind Junoon has made a concerted effort to give the UAE branch its own identity, a feat principally achieved by exploring the local spice souks and markets, to partner in with the chef’s newly imagined and locally inspired dishes.
The appetizers are – for the most-part – a strong entry into proceedings, with the piri-piri, black tiger shrimp proving a diverse but enjoyable bite, and only the superfluous seeming custard apple salad leaving us a bit underwhelmed.
Of the traditional kebab offerings, all served with the contemporary Junoon twist, the lamb selections (lahori boti and kadak seekh) are fantastic, and those after a dish with added regional allure should opt for the goat seekh kebab – a rarity on most menu’s, and undoubtedly a welcome added treat for the locals.
Where the restaurant excels however, is in its poultry offerings. The smoked Muscovy duck breast lathered in pepper sauce holds a candle to any variation we’ve ever had on the Chinese cuisine staple, and the tandoori quail is a delicious option if you don’t want to go down the more traditional chicken curry route. That said, avoid this route and you’ll be missing out on arguably Junoon’s supreme dish – the murgh lababdar. Chicken tikka soaked in rich tomato onion gravy, it’s happily one of the most satisfying curry dishes we’ve ever had. No trifle statement if you, like us, have grown up stubbornly lionising *that* chicken tikka masala in your favourite tandoori restaurant at home.
As for Junoon’s stylish décor, you’ll find a clear attempt at emulating the look and feel of a traditional curry house, with ornately carved pillars, the odd golden ornament and a spattering of floral decorations. All, of course underpinned by the typically upmarket Dubai sass, in the form of a slick front of house bar, polished mahogany floors and deep purple velvet chairs.
While we admit, we usually find restaurants operating under the coveted Michelin star rating have a penchant of favouring style over substance where their food is concerned, this is simply not the case with Junoon. Naturally, there is a concerted effort regarding the presentation, but it’s unquestionably the superb taste of these eclectic Indian dishes that will have the region’s curry aficionados returning.