Described as modernist Indian cuisine, Tresind (apparently a portmanteau of trés and Indian) is looking to carve a niche for itself in a city that already has more Indian restaurant that it will ever need. Working through the chef’s tasting menu it transpires they have largely succeeded:
1) The deconstructed pani puri — a basic Indian street food — consisted of a bubble of coriander and mint water with tamarind gel and miniature semolina balls. The gentle pop and release of flavour was fun, light and exactly the sort of thing Tresind is aiming to do – deliver traditional Indian flavours in a new way.
2) The modernist chaat trolley involved a live demonstration by the chef mixing three types of the Indian street food and creating a Jackson Pollock-esque mix of sauces on a tray. He then dipped ingredients in liquid nitrogen and shattered them over the mix, before “rehydrating” them. I’m not sure this altered the flavour in any meaningful way but as floor shows go, this type of tableside flourish was fun. And eating out should be fun. Crucially it tasted great.
3) Their tandoori guchchi consommé was mushroom soup served like tea. From a tea pot and into dinky cups with morels acting as the tea leaves and truffle milk powder stirred in. A little bit Alice in Wonderland and with no real point other than to be fun, but again the end result tasted great and when you’re working through a chef’s tasting menu it’s things like this that help mark out one course from the next.
4) Lamb chops braised in raw mango chutney and served with compressed raw mango and churan fleur de sel was less fanciful but no less flavoursome. Rich and sticky the meat almost fell off the bone.
5) The trio of mushrooms (served under the name Textures of mushroom) was the kind of thing that in lesser hands would have feel like a swizz. but here, each one packed a slightly different flavour and texture, offering little flourishes on the side. You’d be a bit gutted if you’d ordered this as a starter but in the context of a tasting menu it’s great to have little plates like this.
6) Next came a chicken shawarma kulcha with pickled carrot and beets was a tandoor cooked bread with a stuffing of shawarma chicken. This one was less impressive, mostly because it was essentially a small bit-more-than-canape sized shawarma. Nothing wrong with it, but you may need to do a bit more than make a shawarma if you’re going to keep impressing diners.
7) The Australian lamb shank was more like a typical main from an Indian restaurant. Big, heavy and with deep warming flavours, although substituting rice with apricot and turnip tajine and cous cous pulao was a deft touch. This dish was perhaps the tipping point then put us into a state of being really full.
8) The dessert, however, was one of the best we’ve had anywhere in the city. Daulat ki chaat, (a traditional dessert from Lucknow) was recreated as a foam of condensed milk served with pulled sugar and 24-carat gold dust. The gold dust was a bit over the top and tacky as the dish could more than hold its own without “Dubai-ifying” it with this. One of the lightest things we’ve eaten, but with sweet and delicate flavours, it was the perfect dish to end on.
There were a few gripes. It was a little disappointing that one of our waiters was unable to answer basic questions about the food and she had to go and get someone to help. You’d think that knowing the menu was an obvious requirement for the job, especially at a restaurant like this, but this is a common Dubai problem as much as it is a Tresind one. The chef and his team are clearly hugely talented and have created a fine tasting menu.
Those of you who’ve been in Dubai long enough may remember a restaurant at Le Royal Meridien called Tang, which dabbled in molecular gastronomy and deconstructed dishes. It was fun, but you left feeling as empty as your wallet largely because the food itself was disappointing. It closed down. Here, at a pretty reasonable price, (Dhs365) they play with the conventions and presentations of Indian food but never forget that while the first bite may be with the eye, it’s really the second bite that counts.
With the likes of Rang Mahal (whose tasting menu is still one of the best in the city), Indego, Amal and more we are really not short of brilliant high-end Indian restaurants in the city, but Tresind pulls off the rare culinary trick of offering something you can’t get elsewhere in Dubai. And it’s something really good.
Tresind, Radisson Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed