Everyone knows that Dubai is known for its brunches. So what would make a better first post in my food diary than a review of the new Street Art Brunch at The Oberoi?
I’d read very good things about this brunch so I convinced Mr. S to head with me to Business Bay.
This brunch takes place in The Oberoi’s Nine7One restaurant and is themed around a street food concept. You won’t find unsightly chafing dishes holding lukewarm food here. Instead, the buffet is oriented around several stations serving small bites, with a focus on providing diners with a unique and interactive experience. And how they succeeded in doing so. This was the most fun I’ve had at a brunch in years!
They encourage you to start with the most important part – the mojito station. They had two varieties on offer – classic or strawberry and rhubarb. Only once you’re well-lubricated, can you proceed to the other stations.
Hand-pulled noodles station. This Chinese guy is highly adept at making noodles. Forget the pasta machine, this guy can make noodles in seconds just by stretching a log of dough.
I really loved this simple dish – fresh noodles adorned with prawns, chicken, omelette, seaweed, cucumbers, spring onions, chili oil, and a bit of stock.
Chaat counter. Chaat is the ultimate in Indian street food. You get different shapes and sizes of deep-fried dough, which are usually topped with a bit of potato, covered with a sweet yogurt, then adorned with savoury deep-fried sprinkles. They have all the fixings so you can make your own chaat or you can have someone make it for you, whichever you prefer. There was even an Arabic chaat with sweet potato!
Dosas and shawarmas. No street food buffet would be complete without a dosa counter or shawarma stand. But why keep these two cuisines separate? I’ll have a chicken shawarma dosa, please.
Oyster ladies. If you so desire, one of two stylishly-outfitted ladies will shuck oysters for you at your table.
Make your own som tam. If merely eating and drinking isn’t enough for you, you can don an apron and some sexy plastic gloves and make your own green papaya salad. But beware, the chef gives you a lot of autonomy, so my papaya salad ended up way too salty and wasn’t so delicious, but I enjoyed making it nonetheless!
Make your own drinks. If you like a good tipple, you’ll love the make-your-own drink stand. They have a selection of gin, vermouth and tonics so you can mix your own martini or gin and tonic. Or combine them all together if you prefer. One tonic water with thyme and grapefruit, please!
Made even better with the use of British-made Fever-Tree elderflower tonic.
The grill. While the rest of the buffet is inside, the grill (along with some Arabic mezze) is outdoors. It was a hot summer day so I wasn’t sure what I thought about the raw meats and veg sitting out in the blazing heat, even though they were in bowls on a bed of ice. But that wasn’t enough to stop me from having some grilled meats at the end of the day!
The space is relatively small, but there’s still more on offer – a Japanese section with sushi; a Mexican station with nachos, tacos and quesadillas (quesadillas good, tacos not so good); a small selection of Chinese dim sum; an organic salad area; a small stand with seafood and cold cuts; breads; a cheese counter with raclette; plus a grill serving burgers, braised beef sandwiches, Indian wada pav, South African bunny chow and fish and chips.
And I saved the best for last. DESSERT! But this isn’t just any dessert. The Oberoi dessert chefs were on hand to demonstrate their molecular gastronomy magic. They were constructing deconstructed desserts, combining multiple textures (such as the grainy pina colada), making liquid nitrogen frozen meringues, giving samples of fruit “caviar” made out of special syringes, and making ice cream popsicles in seconds. The dessert chefs were so enthusiastic about demonstrating their molecular gastronomy at the very start of the brunch that they managed to garner an audience of people (including yours truly) who skipped mains and headed straight for the dessert counter!
The best part was the “Dragon’s Breath” – a passionfruit meringue dipped in liquid nitrogen. When you eat it, smoke comes out of your nose and mouth. In pursuit of the perfect photo, I popped two in quick succession and actually burned my tongue and the roof of my mouth from the cold. But it was so worth it!
In addition to the funky deconstructed molecular gastronomy desserts, there was also a beautiful display of more traditional treats.
It almost looks too good to eat!
More fusion in the form of carrot halwa spring rolls.
Their signature banana doughnuts – best when eaten hot!
Finally, props to the DJ. I need him on my speed dial. The music made the brunch – upbeat swing-y, jazz-y, ragtime-y songs from bands such as Postmodern Jukebox and G-Swing. I have never SoundHounded so many songs in my life! (For the sake of full disclosure, I’ve never SoundHounded anything before this brunch!)
This might just be my new favourite brunch. Though it’s relatively small in size, the quality of the food is great and there’s so much variety and excitement going on. And at only AED 299 for the non-alcoholic package, it’s a bargain compared to some of the more extensive brunches out there. Plus, there’s free wi-fi so you can SoundHouse to your heart’s desire and share your dragon’s breath experience with your friends in real-time.
Verdict: I’ve never had so much fun at a brunch. This is THE place to go if you’re bored of the same old, same old. In fact, I’m making myself hungry just writing this so I think I need to go back.
Note to self: Take it easy on the Dragon’s Breath.
Chow for now!