Dubai, 19th December 2011
At the weekend, I tried out a new-to-me restaurant: Voi in Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, the hotel at the end of the Palm Jumeirah Crescent.
I had read about it a while back and upon hearing that it was offering Vietnamese cuisine with a hint of French, as it would be, I put it on my ‘to eat’ list. Since we went to Vietnam a couple of years back, Vietnamese food has been one of my firm favourites, tasty and light, fresh and healthy, with the odd fried spring roll thrown in for good measure, so I was gagging to go. Finally, with friends coming over from Qatar, we had an excuse and headed off.
The restaurant looks perfect, very chic, very French, but not at all Vietnamese. Lovely décor, all black and white (with a somewhat gaudy white Christmas tree at the moment), and the terrace overlooking the gardens and fountains. All in all a gorgeous setting, giving you plenty of excuse to dress to impress. Nice attentive staff as well - our waiter had the lovely name Octavian, and hailed from Bulgaria.
And what about the food? Well, I had the 7-course degustation menu and two courses were what I would have described as authentic Vietnamese, one a rice paper roll filled with crispy vegetables and the other an absolutely delicious pho (soup) made from beef with bone marrow, and an actual bone standing up in the middle of the bowl. This eeked me out initially, but nobody compelled me to suck the bone marrow out, so I simply enjoyed the broth, which was perfect. The rest was very nice food indeed, but certainly more French than Asian in every way.
Overall verdict? If you want to dress up, go for an excellent meal with superb service, a great setting, and try somewhere new - go to Voi. If you want a Vietnamese meal, with very authentic food and even Vietnamese waiting staff, but still in a five-star setting, head straight to the fantastic Hoi An in the Shangri-La.