Sitting pretty at the top of Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, Tasca by José Avillez serves traditional Portuguese food with a twist
Japanese restaurants are a dime a dozen in Dubai. As are French-Mediterranean flavours, Peruvian cuisine and Italian fine dining. Portuguese restaurants? Now you can count those on one hand, and Tasca by José Avillez is top of the list.
You will find the Michelin-starred restaurant perched atop the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai. With unobstructed views of the Arabian Gulf on one side and sweeping skyscrapers on the other, Tasca by José Avillez boasts some of the best views in the city.
In his first international venture, Chef José Avillez takes diners on a culinary journey through Portugal by serving a menu of traditional fare, with a twist. Tasca means tavern in Portuguese and the restaurant honours traditional recipes while updating them with a Michelin flair. Case in point? The Algarve prawn ceviche served on a lime, advised to be eaten in one bite, utilising the lime as a spoon.
Other stand-out starters include moreish cod cakes with trout roe that could be eaten by the dozen; zingy seabass and passionfruit ceviche; and spicy roasted octopus served with the unexpected but delightful addition of kimchi. As per Portugal’s traditional cuisine, the menu at Tasca by José Avillez is seafood-centric, though you should by no means underestimate the meat dishes – light, bitesized cones filled with wagyu tartar and the Tasca Pica Pau, a hearty, stew-inspired plate that warms the soul, are musts.
Though carnivores will adore the jasper-roasted lamb shank, tender veal cheeks and deconstructed beef wellington on the meat-based menu, MOJEH recommends diving into the restaurant’s seafood offerings. Namely the arroz de carabineiro: decadent, brothy rice adorned with Portuguese clams, prawns, crab and Algarve red giant shrimp.
In keeping with the rest of the menu, you cannot go far wrong when selecting dessert. Those less familiar with Portuguese fare will likely still recognise pastel de nata – the traditional custard tart – but stray from your comfort zone and you will be rewarded. (Though we still advise having a pastel de nata if you want to know what they should taste like.) Simply titled ‘hazelnut,’ the José Avillez signature dessert is a parfait-style presentation which layers hazelnut in three ways, while the passion fruit globe provides an electrifying punch courtesy of lime and passionfruit sorbet.
With its five-star seafront location, sweeping views and renowned chef at the helm, Tasca has all the characteristics of a fine-dining restaurant, however Chef José Avillez has created an atmosphere that is both elegant and approachable (allowing you to shamelessly ooh and aah over your dishes as they arrive). The interiors are as welcoming as the beaming staff, with a minimal, casual aesthetic that lets the bustling central kitchen – and the experts that fill it – steal the attention. Venture outdoors and you will find a sprawling terrace that is guaranteed to be filled to the brim come cooler climes; spend the day at Tasca’s rooftop infinity pool during the daytime and indulge in a curated menu of cocktails and light bites. Book now
- Words by Savanna Smith