A new restaurant specialising in Nikkei cuisine makes its mark at Bluewaters Dubai.
Bluewaters has been the centre of attention when it comes to what’s hot in Dubai in recent months. The picturesque offshore island is now home to the world’s largest observation wheel and the first Madame Tussauds wax museum in the UAE. In addition to these ground-breaking tourist attractions, the upmarket island enclave also features several hip dining destinations, including the newly opened Clay.
Clay comes to Dubai by way of Bahrain, where it has been making significant waves in the trendy Adliya neighbourhood. Regular readers of FACT will likely already be in the know when it comes to the Nikkei hotspot that effortlessly fuses the best of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines.
Clay greets diners with an instant vibe thanks to a pulsating soundtrack and plenty of foliage. Located atop a spiral staircase that winds seductively into the upstairs dining room, guests should be prepared for the restaurants striking location at the foot of Ain Dubai. We’d suggest you try to reserve one of the highly coveted tables on the terrace to appreciate the grandeur of the mammoth structure. Inside, the restaurant space features rich marble, elemental textures, eccentric patterns and artistic centrepieces that result in a lush and electric setting.
The restaurant’s name draws inspiration from the clay food pots used to cook food in Peruvian fires while also inspiring the main dining area, where diners can experience Nikkei food prepared with knowledge, care and experience in an open kitchen. Fusing together Peruvian ingredients such as corn, quinoa and aji Amarillo peppers with traditional Japanese techniques, the Clay experience tells a story of travel and discovery while taking Nikkei cuisine to new heights.
Complemented by a series of tabletop theatrics, there’s little doubt that Clay offers a fun and playful dining experience. We begin with the gloriously crisp Prawn Tempura (AED 95) coated in furikake seasoning and accompanied by a moreish tentsuyu dipping sauce. This is quickly followed by Moriawase Al Fuego (AED 95),a compelling blend of prawns, squid and octopus served upon an Instagrammable stone fire platter.
However, with the cebiches, Clay truly hits its stride, offering a variety of appealing tropical infusions featuring lemongrass and mango. If you’re only going to order one of these traditional Peruvian dishes, then make sure it’s the Carretilla (AED 78), a beautiful combination of seabass sweet potatoes, burnt choclo corn and quinoa crackers that combine sensational textures with punchy flavours.
Clay’s extensive menu also features a range of tiraditos, salads, maki rolls, sashimi and nigiri, but with our bellies already full, we venture straight into the main courses. Here we are delighted with a selection of dishes from the Nikkei grill that ranges from South American steaks to lamb, lobster and King Crab. The choice of ingredients may be premium but we find ourselves enamoured by the Andean Short Ribs (AED 220), which are so tender that they fall off the bone at the mere touch of our fork. Cooked for 12 hours, the short ribs are served with a fiery Kizami wasabi purée and cheese chalaquita. Elsewhere, the Black Cod Shishito (AED 210) offers a soft and buttery texture combined with a sweetness from the miso that Dubai diners know and love.
For those not too full to face them, desserts effortlessly push Peruvian flavours to the fore. Whether it’s the Lucuma Lava (AED 70) which combines a fruit native to the Andean valleys with quinoa crumble and Manchego cream or the Miso Brûlée (AED 58) adorned with mango spheres and chicha morada (purple corn) caviar. You won’t be disappointed.
Complemented by an extensive grape list and cocktails that infuse tastes from Tokyo to Lima, Clay’s unmistakable ambience and live DJ sessions help to enhance and elevate a sense of exploration and discovery that this new hotspot has brought to Dubai. Go check it out.
GO: Visit www.clayrestaurants.com for reservations and more information.