Trying to write a review of Tresind is a difficult task. The modernist Indian restaurant located within Dubai’s Nassima Royal Hotel, has had foodies in semi-hysteria since it opened 18 months ago. It would appear at this point as though everyone has reviewed Tresind, so it is exceptionally difficult to bring something altogether new to the table.
Thankfully we were part of a select group of bloggers invited to Tresind last Sunday, to preview their new Iftar menu and being one of (seemingly) a handful people who are yet to dine at Tresind. To say we were more than a little excited is a vast understatement.
Tresind is the UAE’s highest rated restaurant on food reviewing platform Zomato, with an unprescendented score of 4.9 (out of 5) from a staggering 497 reviews! With such overwhelming positivity, could Tresind live up to the hype?
What surprised ls most is the restaurants location. For a fine dining establishment of such a high calibre, one would expect Tresind to be housed within one of the many luxury hotels scattered along the busy Sheikh Zayed Road. Instead, this Indian eatery can be found in a hotel that we had never even heard off. Taking the elevator to the second floor brings guests to Tresind, a dark and broody space with a bar area of low ceilings punctuated by spherical fittings and comfy Indian floor pillows. Meanwhile the dining area opens out into a bright white space with hints of shiny copper. For a restaurant known for its pizzazz and flair, the decor is surprisingly understated and simplistic.
The name Tresind derives from the French adjective ‘Très’ meaning very (as in tres bien / very good) and the word ‘Ind’, an abbreviated of India. So in its most direct form the name translates as ‘Very India’, a complete summarisation of the the concept which combines a progressive fine dining approach with traditional Indian cuisine.
What makes Tresind special is that Executive Chef Himanshu Saini has brought Dubai a unique new cooking style in the form molecular gastronomy – a technique made famous by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal and his edible artworks. Saini, who recently won the Delhi Gourmet Club’s Top Chef Award (in 2014), has many of the same ideas as Blumenthal, but is bringing them to Dubai in a far more accessible environment and at reasonable prices.
A meal at Tresind begins with an aromatic experience, as a plain pink vase stands alone in the centre of the table. Once all guests are seated, liquid nitrogen is added to the vase and soon enough, a deep mist envelopes the table. Cascading over the edge like a misty waterfall and embracing diners with a sweet aroma. This is Tresind, let the magic begin…
The theatrics of the scented start had left us oblivious to the fact that our appetisers were already laid out on the table, in a scene reminiscent of a country garden. Small milk bottles sat on top of a wooden fence, while edamame and salad were presented in what appeared to be a piece of drain pipe. Glass bowls of fresh fruit (an Iftar staple) filled the table and contained heaped melon and glistening cherries,
Dates and milk are traditionally used as a means of breaking ones fast during the holy month of Ramadan, but this being Tresind, things are warped and twisted a little. The milk is infused with traditional ingredients such as saffron and almonds, providing a distinctly Arabic flavour. More intriguing were the fat dates stuffed with… popping candy! A completely unique idea that not only worked well on a textural level but also brought a feeling of childhood nostalgia to proceedings. This is what the team at Tresind do so well, they explore new takes on presentation, with experimental flavours and textures to create a culinary experience that engages the senses.
Kachumber salad is a traditional accompaniment to an Indian meal, but Tresind’s reinvention uses heritage vegetables instead of the usual chopped. The deliciously sweet kumquat was also deceptive, for hidden inside the fleshy interior was foie gras.
The dinner theatre continued with the arrival of our beverages, as we were presented with a Ramadan version of the distinguished ‘lava lamp’ drink. A conical style flask with a bulbous base – like a utensil from school chemistry class – was placed upon the table. Apricot and mango juices were added, followed by pine nuts and liquid nitrogen. After some moments the vibrant yellow concoction began to fizz and the items within the towering flask began to mix, circulating the length of the glass in a hypnotic fashion similar to that of a 1970s lava lamp. Theatrics such as these are likely to leave diners astounded, as they take in whisps of smoke, enticing aromas and inventive presentation – this is interactive dining at its best.
It’s not all smoke and mirrors though…. as the molecular gastronomy has been scaled back for Iftar. Instead putting all focus onto the perfectly cooked food as opposed to exceptional presentation. So for those expected Tresind favourites like pan purri, hunters lamb and the modernist chaat trolley – these are only available a la carte. Don’t be dissuaded though, as the Iftar menu as Tresind is so unbelievably good that it doesn’t actually require all of the culinary tricks with which the restaurant is associated. Instead, absorb the cooking techniques, the artful mastery of the presentation and the sensory impact that Tresind provides. This is a fine dining experience like no other and one that will leave you floored.
The presentation throughout the meal was astounding. A mixed aubergine salad was served warm with edible flowers and a slightly curried sauce, reminiscent of coronation chicken. Minced chicken kheema packed a nice heat but it was the selection of creamed mushrooms that really impressed our fellow dining companions. For a dish so simple, the selection of mushrooms and the light sauce, contained so much flavour that it was most definitely one of the standout dishes of this Iftar.
The masterful creativity of the food at Tresind continued to astound and amaze, as we discovered a delightful burnt butter cous cous, tempura chilli peppers and a coriander covered fish that just melted in the mouth. Even a simple dish like corn on the cob was elevated to greatness via a mixture of perfect cooking techniques and an intricate blend of flavours. Meanwhile a staple of the region, the lamb kofta, was undoubtedly the best that we have sampled in a long time.
Next came the biryani course, available in four distinct combinations – fish, mutton, chicken or shrimp. Each was as good as the next and despite the overload of carbohydrates we gleefully sampled each and every iteration of this rice dish, which is just perfect for an Iftar meal. All biryanis were presented in huge (and we mean huge) bowls, complete with a breaded lid, that is peeled back, allow the scented steam to escape, before being broken up and added to the rice for additional texture.
Feeling as though we couldn’t eat another thing, an abundance of grilled, smoked, roasted and baked meats defended upon the table. From roast chicken cooked with seasonal vegetables and citrus, to tiger prawn curry and rosemary infused lamb chops.
Tresind is a fully immersive experience and an assault on the senses, with an abundance of colours smells and divine flavours. During this Iftar, the gastronomy is used sparingly and as a process of enhancing the meal. Tresind is awe-inspiring, there is no other way to put it.
Each meat dish upped the ante and excelled from the one presented before, with the stars of the show being the braised short rib with piped mashed potato and the thinly sliced version in a rich dark gravy. With pristine attention to detail, Tresind offers a one of a kind experience, that will tease your taste-buds, engage you visually and change any preconceived notions you’ve ever had about the Indian cuisine. From the perfectly tender lamb in the biryani to the fried tempura chilli peppers, each ingredient is undoubtably of the finest quality.
The flavours and textures of the food further reiterate the sterling reputation of Tresind. Those who think that the theatrics, smoke and gastronomy are just a fad, should definitely sample the Iftar offerings. With few theatrics the focus is purely on perfectly cooked food that forms a connection with diners and gets them talking.
Prior to dessert we were presented with a wooden egg containing a saffron, caramelised sugar and cinnamon ice cream with condensed milk foam. Made to resemble a yolk, the ice cream acts as a palette cleanser and tasted very much like the traditional Indian dessert, kulfi.
The evening ended with the marvellous dessert, which was thankfully quite small and contained all of the milky Indian goodness that one associates with Indian sweets. Presentation was immaculate with flecks of gold leaf, edible flowers and a bright selection of sauces. The visual impact alone was astounding, but the mixture of textures was the factor that really made this dish special.
Dining at Tresind can only be described as an experience. As theatrics give way to exceptional food and pristine service (big shout out to Josh), the experience is certainly a pleasurable one. It’s also refreshing to participate in an Iftar that is not predominately about Arabic food, though hints of the cuisine are incorporated into the modernist Indian menu. Speaking with the team the idea is simple: “try to create timeless memories through unique dishes.”
Tresind’s Iftar menu offers great quality Indian food at good prices. For 200 AED per person, you are unlikely to find better in the city and for a restaurant held in such high regard, we suggest you make your bookings early. So as to guarantee that you can experience this blend of food and culture for yourselves.
Tresind offers one of the most unique dining experiences that you are likely to encounter. We can’t recommend it enough and now that we have been once and discovered that it more than lives up to the hype. We can see ourselves spending countless nights here. Usually we don’t find ourselves returning to the same restaurants over and over again, but Tresind definitely breaks that mould and we can’t wait to come back.
Tresind has yet another trick up their sleeve for diners, with a new venture ‘Carnival By Tresind‘ set to open in DIFC after Ramdan. Currently details regarding the concept and food are scarce (by scarce we mean non-existent) but we will be first in line to see what new and exciting adventures the team have in store for us.
Location: Level 2, Nassima Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayad Road, Trade Centre Area, Dubai
Hours: 12pm – 3:30pm / 6:30pm – 11:30pm
Phone: 04 448 9523
We were invited to dine at Tresind but all views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated. Interior photos used courtesy of Tresind.