MOJEH might have found the most sophisticated Vietnamese restaurant in Dubai, and it’s redefining the way we think about authentic dining
Forget overtly fancy interiors and stuffy service. And on the contrary, you can also dismiss the slapdash ‘street-food’ trend monopolising Dubai’s Asian cuisine market at present. The Waldorf Astoria’s LAO is neither hi or lo, instead, its an authentic and well-mastered dedication to Vietnamese cuisine.
MOJEH was invited to dine at the Chef’s counter, aka a front row seat to an energetic and animated Vietnamese kitchen. Think woks the size of your kitchen sink, a sizzling teppanyaki station and a feisty chef who appears to be in ten places at once. Chef de Cuisine Mai Nguyen, to be precise. What makes LAO different is Mai Nguyen’s desire for clean, authentic and customary cuisine. She demands her own garden on the Waldorf estate. It’s there that fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables are nurtured. In turn, Nguyen presents an ever-evolving menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes alongside modern day twists. These are mostly devised based on the seasonal ingredients from her garden. It’s a concept that may seem obvious, but still far removed from Dubai’s culinary landscape.
There’s no need for menus at the Chef’s counter. We sat back as Nguyen curated her own assortment of dishes. Highlights included fish tacos – light, zesty and garnished to perfection. The peppered beef was given an extra push with basil fresh from Nguyen’s garden. And the sea bass baked in tomatoes was enough to give Dubai’s most popular fish restaurants a run for their money.
Away from the kitchen, LAO’s ambience is calm. Serene in fact. There are no overzealous tunes hindering conversation, music is background in the traditional sense. Waiting staff are knowledgeable and attentive, without being overbearing.
MOJEH Recommends: The Chef’s counter is not publicised, instead it’s booked on a need-to-know basis. If true Vietnamese food is your thing, then attempt to get a seat. The immersive experience is well worth it.
The Waldorf Astoria, Dubai, Tel: +971-4-8182222