It’s late afternoon when I arrive at Doors Freestyle Grill in Dubai, and everything is golden – the interior, the table settings, the sunset.
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It’s only just about three weeks since Doors Freestyle Grill opened on Al Seef’s waterfront, but its potential is immediately obvious.
“It’s been a huge investment,” I’m told by the friendly wait staff. “The restaurant is designed to awaken the five senses.”
Thanks to the open-plan kitchen, my sense of smell immediately perks up, due to what I later realise is the prep for our golden fish. At Dh675, the dish – which needs to be pre-ordered – is unsurprisingly one of the more premium items on the menu, largely down to its 23-carat gold coating.
While edible gold is not a new concept in the UAE, for me it’s a first, and for Dubai this dish has stepped things up a notch.
I watch in fascination as the sea bass is stuffed with spring onion, ginger, garlic, chilli and lemon, before the chef pulls out a small square golden flip book, its pages glistening.
As he begins to coat the fish’s already shimmering scales, he explains the thought process behind the dish. “Chef Kemal [Ceylan – the restaurant’s head chef] is extremely creative and a real inspiration,” he says. “People in the UAE love gold. The Emiratis, the expats, the tourists, everyone is fascinated by it, so we have tried to create something to appeal to that.”
While gold doesn’t have a taste as such, “you will definitely know you’re eating it”, I’m told. When the dish is ready, it arrives on a huge platter, covered with a bread top, which, once removed, releases a swell of incredible aromas that (almost) distract from the shiny, golden centrepiece staring back at me.
The gold has thinned slightly during the cooking process and cracked in some places, but this fish is still very much resplendent. After taking my first bite I realise the chef is right – I can’t taste it, but I can definitely feel it.
Mainly, I can feel it stuck to my teeth and to the roof of my mouth, as I oh-so-elegantly try to make sure I don’t look like I’m wearing grills before talking to the camera.
Gold aside, the dish is delicious. The fish is marinated in chef Ceylan’s special orange sauce, which, when paired with the fragrant flavours of the ginger and garlic, is the perfect complement for the fresh, tender sea bass.
While this dish may be pricey, it can easily be shared between two, aided by the generous serving of home-made bread.
Granted, the gold doesn’t add anything in terms of flavour, but it doesn’t take away from its serious gourmet credentials either, and it will certainly make for an Insta-worthy moment.
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