Located on the top floor at Burj Al Arab is the newly minted Michelin one star restaurant Al Muntaha. Tonight’s gonna be a good good night.
Burj Al Arab – 7 Star Luxury
Burj Al Arab is Dubai’s most iconic hotel and a global icon of Arabian luxury. It was introduced by many as the only 7-star hotel in the world. Let’s get this straight, there’s no such thing as 7-star rating for a hotel; the maximum a hotel can get rated is 5-star.
The claim was first made when the hotel opened in December 1999, supposedly by a star-struck British travel writer (pun intended) and the 7-star moniker has been repeated endlessly. Mind you , it is really luxurious; the moment when you are stopped at the other end of the bridge going to the reclaimed island, to the entrance into the lobby, to looking up the 180m tall atrium, everything was designed to awe you. And everything gold is real (24K) gold in this hotel.
The beachfront area where Burj Al Arab and its sister Jumeirah Beach Hotel are located was previously called Chicago Beach. The hotel is located on an island of reclaimed land, 280 m (920 ft) offshore of the beach of the former Chicago Beach Hotel. The former hotel was demolished during the construction of the Burj Al Arab.
Al Muntaha is a newly minted One Michelin starred venue serving the finest French and Italian cuisine in the world’s most iconic hotel by acclaimed Chef Saverio Sbaragli (shown left with his Michelin gown), who helmed the kitchens of Al Muntaha since 2021. Everything is made in house.
Al Muntaha (“The Ultimate”) is located 200 m (660 ft) above the Persian Gulf, offering a view of Dubai. It is supported by a full cantilever that extends 27 m from either side of the mast, and is accessed by a panoramic elevator.
To celebrate her graduation, I treated Princess to Al Muntaha for dinner.
It offers one of the most incredible night view of downtown Dubai on one side, and the Palm on the other side of the dining hall.
Although we came for dinner, the place is actually best experience during the day because you would be able to see the surroundings. The reflective glass does not help in getting good shots of the place, all clad in UAE colours of blue, green, white and red. The only other colour would be gold.
They were very strict on when we can be seated, even though we came early and the place was not filled. So I ordered a drink – Hibiki 15 on the rocks – and began to relaxed. We were ushered to our table as the drinks were served.
The dinner kicked off with a trio of complimentary canapés specially prepared by the chef.
- Olives all’Ascolana is a warm canapé that burst with surprising flavours. Originated from the province of Ascoli Piceno in Italy, Olives all’Ascolana are breaded and deep-fried olives stuffed with cheese, chicken and veal.
- King crab with tarragon mayonnaise are buckwheat rolls stuffed with king crab meat like a cannoli, topped with pearls of finger lime and flavoured with tarragon mayonnaise.
- Cuttlefish sashimi with basil oil and sorrel aioli are bread sticks wrapped with thinly sliced ika and served with a sorrel condiment.
Bread service was a different class on its own. There were only two bread on offer – Ciriola and Focaccia. Although they did not have the variety that I have experienced at Joël Robuchon, they did serve a very delicious butter that was prepared at table side.
It’s believed that the Romans invented focaccia, but they cooked theirs on the hearth, which produces a far crispier version than modern-day offerings. The simplest and IMHO the best style of focaccia are topped with herbs and drizzled with olive oil.
Another bread linked to the Romans, ciriola is a traditional bread that is crusty on the outside and soft inside. Its name refers to the shape of the bread, as ciriola means candle in Italian, as the rolls are shaped like flames.
Heirloom Tomato With Tomato Liquid, Mozzarella Cheese Espumé, Basil Oil, Croutons
After the canapés, we were served our amuse bouche. It’s like a caprese salad reconstructed. The same ingredients were used, but in a different form. The mozzarella was made into an espumé and the creamy inside was placed on top; the tomatoes were served with basil oil and its own water; croutons were mixed into the chopped tomatoes. Served cold and eaten with a spoon like a dessert, it was really delicious.
Bottoni Terra E Mare
Foie Gras, King Crab and Truffle Consommé
Just like the name suggests, bottoni are pasta that have stuffing like a ravioli and shaped like a button. The bottini tonight was stuffed with foie gras and topped with sliced black truffles, They were served king crab legs and shiitake mushroom consommé made with ponzu and smoked duck ham.
Everything came together harmoniously. I especially loved the foie gras buttons; unlike cheese-filled ravioli that are usually served a creamy sauce, the foie gras-pasta-consommé combination was clean, savoury and satisfying all at the same time.
Traditional Tuscan Vegetables Soup
I wasn’t sure if this was “freshly” made or we were actually drinking overnight soup in a Michelin starred restaurant, but Princess loved reheated soup. Ribollita is a hearty, comforting soup that is very traditional and popular throughout Tuscany. It is made with an assortment of vegetables, cannellini beans and Tuscan kale, and stale Tuscan bread is used to thicken the soup. The first day it’s made, it’s more of a soup (and called “minestra di pane,” or “bread soup”), and then when reheated the next day it becomes ribollita (literally meaning “reboiled”).
As the soups were served, we were presented with the second fresh bread service of the evening. This spongy bread was used to wipe off the sauces on the plates.
The origins of Pane di Pugliese are found in the 15th century, brought across by the Turks who ruled the south of Italy at that time. A peasant-style sourdough bread, this crunchy-crusted domed loaf is richly flavoured due to its long fermentation process.
Beef Angus Fillet and Truffle Tuber Melanosporum
When it was served we didn’t know what to make out of it, but Princess and I were totally blown away with this Angus beef carpaccio. The dressing of the carpaccio was made from fresh black truffle (tuber melanosporum) paste, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Unlike the usual carpaccio, which has rocket lettuce, shaved parmesan cheese and capers, this carpaccio simply let the truffle and the single source oil do all the job.
Egg Yolk, Parmesan Cheese and White Truffle
Princess ordered the ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese filling. But the star of the course was not the pasta. The pasta was just a conduit to enjoy the luxurious ingredient that was in season.
The white truffle from Alba (a particular species called tuber magnatum) is the most desired for its unforgettable flavour. White truffle season is from September to December when they grow wild in the forests around Alba.
They have a knobby shape, firm flesh, and pale golden color. White truffles are sought after for their larger size, limited quantity, and quality of taste. When Casino Magnate Stanley Ho was still alive, he used to pay a hefty amount of money for the largest piece found in each season.
About 5g of the precious white truffle was shaved onto the ravioli, but even with the little amount, the entire dish was elevated to another level. The indescribable white truffle taste and fragrance was unforgettable to anyone that tasted it. There were too many poor examples of black truffles, especially those I tasted from Sichuan China, there’s no replacement for Alba white truffles.
Chestnut, Jerusalem Artichokes and White Truffle
You can see the mini scale that was used to measure the 5g of white truffle. Instead of the ravioli (I already had buttoni in the previous course), I opted for St Jacques to enjoy the luxurious fungus.
Beautifully grilled scallops and roasted chestnuts were placed on Jerusalem artichoke mash, and garnished with a creamy foam. Because I could figure out what the foam was, the 5g of white truffle was shaved onto it, causing it to collapse under the “weight”.
Blue Lobster from Brittany
À la Diable and Carrot Pie
The “homard breton” is fished with nets along the Brittany coasts and is famous for its succulent flavour and the beautiful blue colour of its shell which turns red when cooked. This course was generous enough to provide the entire lobster in one dish; the craws were served with pickled carrots; the whole tail was poached and served with diable sauce; a carrot pie rounded up the plate.
I thought it was a lobster bisque sauce until the heat kicked in. The typical ingredients used to make diable sauce are serrano peppers, tomato, and chilli powder. Diable sauce’s characteristic flavour is a subtle smoky tomato that makes it easy to distinguish from other hot sauces.
If you were wondering where the rest of the lobster went to, they were served in ceviche with a fruit cocktail that reminded me of the Chinese cold appetiser lobster, except that here it was served with a cold tangy sauce instead of Japanese mayo.
Eggplant, Piccadilly Tomatoes, Concentrated Peach and Smoked Provola Cream
Princess has recently developed a liking to eggplant and lamb, and so it was a no-brainer to pick the milk-fed lamb. It was a busy plate with a piece of grilled eggplant, a quenelle of Piccadilly tomato paste, a splash of concentrated peach and a drizzle of smoked provola cream that accompany the milk-fed lamb that has been confit for 24 hours at 62˚C. The final touch of au jus reduction complete the plate.
Coconut Foam, Vanilla Almond Orange Blossom Sorbet, Fresh Mango, Almond Crumple, Lime Zest
Before we proceeded to the dessert, we were presented with our palate cleanser that would be mistaken to be another dessert. The first taste was coconut even though there were hints of zest and vanilla, but it was quickly overpowered by the fresh cubes of R2D2 mango. As you dig into the bottom, the almond crumple bonded the components together.
Diplomate Cream, Caramel Opaline and Chocolate Ice Cream
Then the actual dessert was served. The millefeuille was quite dense, and not what I expect but still it was chocolatey goodness, especially with the chocolate diplomat cream between the layers of pastry. If you were looking for the ice cream in the picture, yes, it was the cinnamon stick lookalike hiding next to the opaline. I would not blame you if you think that it’s like a decadent Kit-Kat that you were eating.
Pavlova With Raspberry, Hazelnut And Yuzu Tart, Passion Fruit Chocolate
And finally the petit four to call it a night, even though there were only three.
We had a waiter from Taiwan that explained patiently all the components of each course, even though I found that his explanations were sometime different from the French server. The food was outstanding and very welcomed after an entire week of kebabs and shawarma.
But we spent almost the same as we would at a three-star restaurant like Odette and almost double compared with another really good meal in Dubai, so the CP value was not exactly there. But if you throw in the experience of dining on the top of Burj Al Arab, it became worth the while.
27th floor, Burj Al Arab
Visited Nov 2022
@almuntaha #almuntaha #michelinguide #michelin #onestar #dubai #UAE