Monday, March 14, 2016

Dine Like a Royal at Armani/Hashi in Dubai

It wasn’t until I walked out of Armani/Hashi and gazed skyward that I realized I had actually been dining inside a veritable fortress of fine Japanese cuisine, built into the bottom of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building to date. There, towering high above me against the backdrop of ominously darkening skies and the phosphorescent moon, was the futuristic edifice that dwarfed the rest of the world.

It was no wonder Armani/Hashi had been such a posh restaurant, although the service was in no way snooty; rather, every staff member had been extremely gracious and pampering (as most service-industry people in Dubai tend to be). Were it not for everyone’s wacky version of the English language here, I might have felt a tad intimidated by my uber-luxurious surroundings. You had to step into a rotund elevator to descend into the underground gem (one staff member claimed even she still gets lost among these hallowed halls of sushi).

Armani/Hashi is the kind of place that treats you like royalty even though you happen to be dressed in casual clothes that day. It’s the kind of restaurant whose staff members will fuss over every minute detail, constantly rearranging your plates, your chopsticks; damned if your water glass wasn’t filled to the top every second.

That moment of bliss that enraptured me as I relished Armani/Hashi’s food and service was so intoxicating, that for a brief moment I decided I’ll just stay in this city—why not? Live it up, chase a mirage in the desert until it dissipates, enjoying every microsecond till the end.

But in the present moment, I see the cutest little pink peppercorns neatly tucked inside my Ise Ebi, or “Sweet Wasabi Giant Prawn,” for AED$90 (about $24 in U.S. currency). The hint of wasabi was also just right, the mayonnaise mixing well with it so that it seemed even the wasabi tasted sweet.

Ostensibly because of my zeal, the chef gifted me morsels of food—some not even on the menu: from the plate of Japanese pickles which included umeboshi, a super-tart, pickled salt plum (it’s round and purplish-red in color) to the bowl of chopped raw tuna served with dried green onions and salted seaweed strips with which to eat the robust red fish. The chef then handed me Toro Tataki served in a mini bowl, complete with a tiny sprig of kinome, or mint-flavored mini leaves of a prickly ash tree (this is frequently used as a garnish in traditional Japanese cuisine).

And lastly, for dessert, the chef insisted I try his “Yuzu Granita,” a frozen flavored-ice treat served with yuzu juice and something like pop rocks that crackled and fizzed in my mouth! As it was my first time having granita, I insisted the chef reveal the secret behind this little bowl filled with a mound of yellow-and-red, syrupy-crunchy powder concoction, with a little wooden spoon sticking out of it. (A friend had questioned if that were a photo of bath salts when I first sent it to her.)

“It’s like a sorbet,” the chef replied. (Later I would learn that granita is only truly different from sorbet in that it has a crunchier texture due to the freezing process. As the liquid freezes, it forms large ice crystals.)

I vowed I would return to this place at the tail end of my excursion, but it was not meant to be, as plenty of other locations beckoned with their unique menus and tempted me with too many flavors. I believe gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins that best describes me….

Armani Hotel Dubai, Downtown Dubai, UAE
04 888 3888

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