Driving along the Beach Road towards the Marina, it’s been difficult to ignore the big gong which appeared in front of the Westin Hotel. The gong is part of the signage for newly opened China Grill which is a new import to Dubai. Originating from New York, the man behind China Grill is Jeffrey Chodorow a man famous for his unusual pairings of food, not quite fusion (he hates that word) the menu pairs together unusual combinations of food, a hint of china, a hint of asia, sometimes a hint of something else, in particular interesting marriages of flavours such as lobster mashed potato, Chodorow’s insistence on thinking outside the wok set the pitch for what has become one of the most innovative and highest-grossing multi-concept restaurant companies in the world. The philosophy is simple “serious food and dazzling spectacle are not mutually exclusive”.
We arrive at China Grill via the parking lot of the Westin Hotel with a dedicated valet service. The lift whisks us up to the Lounge area which is busy and then we are escorted downstairs to the dining room which looks stunning with lots of interesting decoration and architecture (although personally I would prefer the lights to be red to give it more of an asian feel). There are plenty of seating options, including a lovely long table for group dining, some intimate booths suitable for a small group of friends and a small bar area, add this to views of a semi open kitchen, with lounge music in the background this is an interesting space to eat dinner.
Staff are exceptionally helpful and very knowledgeable about the menu which is always a good sign, whilst it’s a little quiet when we arrive at 8pm by 9pm the restaurant starts to fill up and the tempo of the music increases too.
For starters we choose to order from the Dim Sum menu, and guided by our waitress, we selected two different dim sum that she personally recommended, in particular her face lit up when she was describing the King Scallop & Lobster Siew Mai served with a lobster broth – as did ours when it arrived and we bit into the tasty parcels and slurped on the fabulous lobster broth which was served in shot glasses. The Shrimp Crispy purses, with shiitake, leeks, sweet chilli sauce were good, beautifully crispy wanton wrappers enveloped parcels of juicy shrimps, the sweet chilli sauce wasn’t the best that I’ve tasted and let the dish down a little bit.
All of the dishes are prepared for sharing, and whilst I love sharing platters/dishes because of the social aspect to dining and it’s always good for conversation, I found the dishes turned up very rapidly, possibly because the restaurant was not busy, meaning that it felt like we had a hurried dining experience and by 9.15 pm we had munched our way through three course with hardly any time to pause between courses.
Main Courses, can be selected from the Small, Large or Grand Plates areas of the menu, on a first visit it’s a little difficult to know what to order, or how big the portion size is so again we were guided by our waitress who suggested that one small plate and one large plate would be plenty. From the Small Plates we choose Wagyu Ribeye Kushiyaki served withmixed asian leaves and from the large plates we choose Lobster & Scallion Pancake served withtruffle butter. The Wagyu was delicious, four skewers of juicy, tender and sweet wagyu were served with some well dressed salad and a beautiful dipping sauce. The Lobster pancake was the star of the show for me, the pancake was bigger than I had expected, but was so tasty and moreish especially when covered or dipped into the rich, unctuous and seriously finger licking good truffle butter. It’s quite a heavy rich dish so make sure you have room by not overfilling with rich starters.
I was particularly taken with the Grand Plates and want to return, with a few more people to do justice to the Whole Bejing Duck hoisin, scallions, pancakes, cucumber which is one of my favourite Chinese dishes and also the Black Angus 1000g Tomahawk Ribeye miso roasted bone marrow, Asian green sauce. I’m a huge lover of a good steak and steak with bone in always tastes good.
Sensing that I love taking photos of stunning food, the waitress suggested that we should try the a dessert which she simply called Banana In a Box and having now built up a rapport with the waitress and a high level of trust we ordered this without even asking to see the dessert menu, a first time ever for me. We were delighted and entertained when the waiter flambeed our dessert in front of our eyes – banana in a box (though I’m not sure why it’s called a box since it’s in a dome) turned out to be caramelized banana, vanilla ice-cream and macadamia nougatine which is served in a chocolate dome which is flambeed at the table, once melted you are left with a gooey, chocolately, crunchy heap of warm bananas drenched in a pool of ice-cream and melted chocolate which is rich and tasty.
And here’s a video of the dessert ‘in action’ so to speak – get your camera or video ready if you want to get some shots.
In addition to the restaurant which is downstairs, there’s a lively bar/lounge area which was very popular when we visited with live music and a nice bar menu. Valet parking is free and located just before entrance to the Westin Hotel where you gain access to China Grill through a dedicated lift entrance making the visit feel just that little bit more exclusive.
Disclaimer : I was a guest of China Grill, however all opinions are my own, all images were taken by me on the evening with the exception of the image of the lounge which was taken from China Grill website.