Despite the impact of coronavirus, Indochine remains beautifully intimate, formal and yet unpretentious and the food is memorable
It’s more than 35 years since Indochine first launched in New York, attracting the likes of Madonna, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger and David Bowie over the years, with the lure of Vietnamese flavours with a twist and flare from France that only French cooking can achieve.
I can’t paint or sing, but I do like French food and I particularly enjoy food from Vietnam. And so when a review opportunity came for the Dubai restaurant, Indochine’s first venture outside of America, it was a no brainer.
Opened at the start of the year in DIFC, it’s been something of a baptism of fire for the restaurant, given the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent health and safety restrictions.
Indochine Dubai Food
But it doesn’t feel as though the venue has lost any of its charm as a result. It remains beautifully intimate, formal and yet unpretentious. And of course the food hasn’t changed.
Our waiter Vladimir sculpted the menu for us, with an array of dishes that certainly didn’t leave us crying out for more.
Starting with the beef and green papaya salad, we enjoyed seared wagyu flank with green papaya, yuzu soy dressing, viet herbs and crispy garlic, followed by sea bream carpaccio, an explosion of flavours including ginger from the dressing, pomelo, pickled radish and more crispy garlic.
Beef & Green Papaya Salad
A French restaurant simply wouldn’t be a French restaurant without escargots. While I tend to often find them overcome with the taste of garlic, these had a more subtle flavouring, with lemongrass and kaffir herb butter complimenting and certainly not overpowering the dish.
Surprisingly for a huge carnivore, and among the extensive menu of favourites, it was the crispy eggplant that wowed me the most, possibly because I took my first bite with little expectations. However, each taste was akin to biting into a puff of crisp flavour, the spiced caramel, chilli and scallions adding to the fusion of taste. It’s no wonder it’s one of the restaurant’s best sellers.
Another top selling dish is the Vietnamese Ravioli – steamed rice noodle with chicken and shrimps, shitake mushrooms, bean sprouts and nuoc cham, with a spicy dip on the side to add that little bit of kick if desired.
Chunks of black Angus tenderloin made up the Shaking Beef main. There was also crispy scale amadai, which worked even if it did feel slightly strange munching through the scales.
We were told plenty about the Wok-tossed rice noodles, a vegan dish including asparagus, king oyster mushroom, chili, scallion, mushroom sauce and sesame, and maybe it was because of the feast we’d devoured up until then, but this one didn’t quite live up to the expectations and tasted quite bland, despite the array of ingredients.
While the side of fermented soybean, crispy garlic and chilli oil was almost a meal in itself.
There was only just room for dessert and the Passion fruit tartelette was indulgence in the extreme. Slightly too rich to finish every bite, but the combination of white chocolate, almond cream and mango sorbet, with the hidden explosion of passion fruit, was the perfect ending to the evening.