UAE

Peruvian passion in the heart of Dubai – Tesoro

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There’s a particular style that is very Peru that you don’t see anywhere else; it’s got so many different imprints. When you mix Incan minimalism with the heavy, ornate Spanish Baroque, it is very interesting. – Mario Testino

Peruvian culture embraces a mix of other cultures and this trait can be witnessed in its cuisine as well. Following an Iftar invitation to Tesoro, Taj Dubai I seem to have developed a much greater respect for Peruvian food.
Having said that, I believe what had truly left an imprint was the culinary journey created by both the F and B team and kitchen crew – impeccable service!
I say this because I noticed that the other guests there received a lot of attention including those who had opted for the à la carte menu. Service is definitely everything here.

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Taj Dubai (Downtown) had recently opened its doors earlier this year. Perhaps a separate post ought to be dedicated to describe the miniscule and majestic details of this dazzling hotel. Right from the scenic lobby that makes any gaze shift upwards, to the ‘lounge of history’ that proudly exhibits a coin collection from the yesteryears of the United Arab Emirates, whilst being draped in traditional Indian Art. Taj Dubai cradles history and the present in its fine architecture.

Tesoro or Treasure, in Spanish occupies the third floor of Taj Dubai and this restaurant does seem to have an apt name. As stated in my description of Food She Blogged, I’m not obligated to pen words of praise simply because I have been invited to the menu tasting. Having said that, I believe that credit lies where credit is due and Tesoro is the place to have a taste of authentic Peruvian food.

Now I’m no expert on Peruvian cuisine so I brought my friend, Aparna along who not only knows how to speak Spanish a little, but has also experienced Peruvian food before. My understanding is that it’s best to compare notes with someone who has a better perception of the subject than you do, before you choose to speak about the subject itself. Thankfully, this time round, she was not referred to as ‘the plus one’ compared to one of the previous menu tastings that we were a part of. Faith in politeness restored.

Tesoro’s studded with meticulously designed timber screens, artistic pewter combined with Athens grey stone and indoor trees to add to the lush ambience. The lighting is rather comfortable and the decor does offer a very different dining experience – don’t forget to feast with your eyes as well.

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The Iftar buffet which is priced at AED 195 per person offers a vibrant spread of Peruvian cuisine alongside Arabian and Asian dishes.

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Apart from the popular Ramadan juices to choose from such as Karkade, Jallab and Amareddine, the popular Peruvian Chica Morada is a mocktail that must not be ignored. This blend of purple corn, pineapple and cinnamon is very refreshing –  sure did pick me up after a long and tiring day.

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Chef Julio Cesar from Peru gave us directions to the yellow brick road by advising us to open the Iftar menu at the popular ceviche bar. This cold yet buzzing section of Tesoro highlights the influence that China, Japan and Europe have had on Peruvian cuisine. From the classical ceviche using yellowfin tuna and salmon, shrimp cocktails and vegetarian sushi to the fiery starter using squid rings, shrimps and scallops, this is an ideal meeting spot for seafood lovers. Chef Julio affectionately calls this sizzling starter Fuego Lima – and passionately explains the choice of spices and the importance of yellow chillies in Peruvian cuisine. Yellow chillies add flavour, not spice and I’ve grown to appreciate them more considering my low spice threshold.

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While passing through the salad bar, you’ll notice that there’s an array of the familiar Arabic salads such as Moutabel, Hummus, pickled vegetables, etc and on the other side of sleek glass display lies a few popular Peruvian salads such as the Quinoa salad, the water chestnuts with mango (my personal favourite), the purple potato salad and the lima beans with shrimps. Quinoa, being the staple crop of Peru makes its presence felt in not just the salads, but the signature Quinoa soup as well.

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The mains offers hints of heart warming Peruvian street-food picks such as the Anticuchos, Peruvian potato cakes with yellow chilli and Pollo a la brassa , A Peruvian spin on grilled chicken, which I’m told is quite popular amongst the locals. According to Chef Julio, “A man with no money and a man with a lot of money both enjoy this dish.”
The Dory with Amarillo lemon butter leaves a great aftertaste.
If you’re in the mood for tender lamb, try the roasted lamb with chimichurri dressing.

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Vegetarians, fret not – you’re taken care of over here as well. The root vegetable tagine, Arabic spiced rice and vegetable quesadilla are some of the dishes to look out for.

Couple your mains (or soup) with some of the traditional bread as well. I quite liked the corn focaccia with Amarillo butter and the purple potato buns.

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Don’t forget to leave room for dessert!

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When it comes to an Iftar menu, you can expect a few popular Arabian desserts but at Tesoro – expect the unexpected. The Dulche de leche rice pudding, corn and mint brûlée are mention worthy. Of course, our personal favourite was the good ‘ol Churros with dark chocolate and milk chocolate sauce.

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First impressions:
Ambiance and decor: Excellent
Service: Excellent
Menu presentation and design: Excellent
Food: Excellent
Value for money: Excellent
Overall dining experience: Excellent

Tesoro’s Iftar can be enjoyed for AED 195 per person. Click here for directions to Tesoro, Taj Dubai.

Comestible regards,
Judy Sebastian.

2 Comments

  1. Mitzie Mee

    July 20, 2015 at 8:12 am

    What a gorgeous place. Peruvian iftar sounds unusual and fun and that ceviche bar would be most welcome to camp in my apartment anytime:)

    • Food She Blogged

      July 21, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      It sure was a delightful experience! A must try, especially the ceviche bar 😀

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