Who doesn’t know the Burj Al Arab in Dubai? It’s okay, don’t be shy to raise your hand….even if you don’t know it by the name, you must have seen a picture of this beautiful hotel which resembles a billowing sail! After all it is one of the most photographed structures in the world! Owned by the ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Burj Al Arab is the self-proclaimed, world’s only 7 star hotel. It is gated from the public and only caters to its paying customers. Now, I did not spend 1300 USD a night to stay at the Burj Al Arab, but there was no way that I was going to leave Dubai without visiting this massive hotel.
I have to be honest, I almost cried when I found out that they offer a dinner package called the Culinary Flight. It entails eating and drinking in 6 different restaurants and bars inside the Burj Al Arab all within one night! They offer 3 tiers of pricing inclusive of a 5 course menu, or a 5 course menu and Sommelier selection, or a 5 course menu plus the Sommelier selection and (cue pimp music) Rolls-Royce pick-up or drop off.
For the past two plus years, I have lived in a hotel, and when I am not living in a hotel I live on top of a mall, It has never crossed my mind that going to hotels and malls are fun, but I think it must have been the magic of Dubai, that I was so excited about going to the Burj Al Arab, I put on my sailor-style Orangutan dress (to match the hotel) and jumped into a taxi. My Pakistani taxi driver was even more excited; he said in the past 5 years, he has only driven guests there 4 times. That totally makes sense, because most guests who stay there arrive in the hotel’s Rolls-Royce!
At the gate, the security checked our names carefully on a list before letting our taxi in. We arrived at the lobby and the amazing décor made our jaws drop…I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto. It is like we were whisked away into another world and so begins our Culinary Flight at the Burj Al Arab!
I know most of you are wondering how the “6 bars/restaurants in one night” works. Well… this is how the Culinary Flight works, you first start with pre-dinner drinks at the Sky View Bar, this is also when you will order all your 5 courses spanning 5 restaurants. When you are done with each course and are ready to move onto the next restaurant, you simply alert your waiter, and someone will come and guide you to your next restaurant.
So our first stop is the Sky View Bar on the 27th floor. Upon arrival, the waitstaff warmly greeted us by our last names and guided us to a table right in front of the window where we can enjoy the panoramic night view of Dubai. It is a beautiful place to relax before dinner or to take someone on a date!
This is called the Eastern Delight. It’s made of fresh raspberries, lemon juice, rosewater essence, apple juice and topped with exclusive sparkling date juice. It is a non-alcoholic drink, and it’s innovative and delicious!
My companion had the Curious Tom, it is vodka mixed with cherry tomato, fresh strawberry and curry leaves. It was a bit on the strong side but very different in a good way!
We enjoyed our time at the Sky View Bar, and about 30 minutes later, we were ready to spread our wings and fly…well walk… to our first restaurant. The maître d’ came and walked us across the hallway to the Al Muntaha. Al Muntaha means “The Ultimate” or “The Top” in Arabic and it offers contemporary European cuisine. The decor is modern and is very similar to the Sky View Bar.
I started with fresh oysters, a simple taste with hints of tonic and lime.
The Al Muntaha Salad was very green. I think that is the best way to describe it, since there were big chunks of vegetable on the plate and is not delicately presented. It looked healthy at least! There also wasn’t much taste to it as the rice wine vinegar dressing was very light.
When we were ready to go to our 2nd course, a different maître d’ came to guide us to our next destination. He was very personal and friendly, yet maintained a very professional posture the entire time. He dropped us off at Al Iwan adjacent to the lobby fountain. Al Iwan is an extravagant Arabian restaurant filled with gold and red carvings, columns, walls and chandeliers. This is exactly how I imagine a lavish Middle Eastern dining room would be. I didn’t find it tacky but more traditional and luxurious.
This is Imam Bayildi Aubergine: eggplant couscous, oriental ratatouille with saffron cream. The texture was stiff, and the combination of flavors did not pop. Not an exciting dish.
The jumbo prawn & sea scallops were decent. I like the scallops more than the shrimp. The prawns were a bit dry and lacking flavor.
Our next stop is Junsui, the Asian restaurant in the hotel. Giving the large amount of Asian guests (especially from mainland China) staying at the hotel, this is necessary because a lot of Chinese tourists from mainland prefer to eat Asian food, especially Chinese food, no matter what country they are in!
Junsui looks cozy and modern with open kitchens offering different Asian cuisines. Upon arrival at Junsui, we were offered a tour of the various open kitchens. Everyone is friendly, even the chefs who were cooking behind the counter greeted us warmly.
This is Seafood Laksa. If you have ever taken a Continental (well now it’s United) flight from Hong Kong to New York, in their BusinessFirst class they always offer the Chinese Noodle Bowl. I feel bad saying this, while eating the Seafood Laksa, it immediately reminded me of the Chinese Noodle Bowl on my Continental flights. I guess that pretty much sums it up.
Next we had the Korean Braised Short Ribs. This was a great surprise. I am sure this is not authentic Korean food, but whatever it is, this was the most delicious dish of the entire meal. The meat is very soft and juicy and packed with flavor. It was a shame the portions were small for this dish. I wanted more!
Our flight hit a bit of turbulence in a good way, I have to confess that I had a girl crush at the Burj Al Arab! Stacey, another maître d’ who came to take us to our next stop, was this stunning girl/tomboy from South Africa. She is a mix of Italian, Asian and South African. Her eyes were very unique; the colors were a mix of hazel, blue, grey and brown. She was so beautiful! Yes, I love good food, and love looking at anything beautiful! Stacey took us to Al Mahara, the seafood restaurant of the hotel, and of course the entire time, I was looking at Stacey and felt lost in her eyes! (Cue Debby Gibson song) Only when Stacey left, did I put my attention back on the restaurant. We were taken to a table facing the Aquarium with a full view of the sharks and fishes. Al Mahara is elegant and sophisticated. I loved the decor and atmosphere. There is no other word to describe it but… Amazing!
This is the Maine Lobster, with white asparagus, baby gem Cepe mushrooms with cognac rosemary cream. The lobster was a bit chewy and I felt it was overcooked. I’ve had better lobster elsewhere. I was disappointed at the texture and taste of it all.
This is the Atlantic Wild Turbot, with snow pea puree, porcini chutney with Pinot Noir tarragon sauce. This dish was better than the lobster. The fish was smooth, flavorful and the combination of the fish with the snow pea puree went perfectly well. The Pinot Noir tarragon sauce was a bit salty in my opinion.
Our bellies were full but not our spirit. Our jetlag was kicking in but we were not ready to actually “sleep with the fishes”. Our culinary flight is now descending to its final destination, Sahn Eddar. This is where we enjoy beautiful live classical music with some dessert and coffee.
This is the Burj Al Arab Chocolate Sphere. I am not sure what was in it but it was amazing to see the transformation when the waiter drizzled hot chocolate over the sphere and watch it melt and take to form. It was very rich and heavy but very delicious.
This dessert is the Hazelnut Dacquoise, crunchy Feuillantine and Jivara mousse. It was smooth, creamy, and much lighter than the Burj Al Arab Chocolate Sphere. I enjoyed this masterpiece a bit more.
Our tray tables up and our seats back in the upright position, our Culinary Flight has finally come to an end. Our bellies extremely full and our minds blown away from the experience, we just realized that we conquered 5 restaurants and 1 bar at the Burj Al Arab in 4 hours. I must say the food was a tad above average but the experience was like no other. The service was impeccably professional and warm, and the coordination between each restaurant was perfect.
If you are too lazy to try five restaurants in one night, then one restaurant will suffice, actually the experience of coming to the Burj Al Arab is more than enough. Just like Cinderella the clock struck twelve and it was time for us to face reality and go back to our 1-star hotel…was it a dream? Well it felt like it.
To reserve a Culinary Flight: Telephone: +971 4 301 7600/ Fax: +971 4 301 6076/ Email: BAArestaurants@jumeirah.com