As someone who hails from Birmingham, UK, I think of myself as somewhat of a connoisseur when it comes to Indian cuisine – that was until I went to Junoon.
The Indian restaurant, which is hidden away from the main hullabaloo in Sheikh Zayed Road’s prestigious Shangri La hotel, is a Michelin-star concept from New York.
The reputation of the restaurant in the Flatiron District of Manhattan is impressive, but that hasn’t deterred the Dubai venue, which is fast earning its own well-deserved, renowned reputation.
Modern elegance with natural elements combined with old-world Indian artistry that creates a unique interior.
This feels like one of Dubai’s hidden gems; busy but not heaving. In fact, if you wish for true privacy you can tuck yourself away in one of the chic alcoves.
The music levels are just right (rare in the UAE) – loud enough for you to hear, not so deafening you can’t hear fellow diners.
The best way to start your culinary journey is to order one of the many cocktails made in house by the talented mixologists while you decide on your dishes.
Better still, allow the team to curate a menu for you. Simply explain your dietary requirements and allergies (they are superb at checking this) and the staff, who are unbelievably knowledgeable about every dish, are all too happy to pitch in and offer suggestions.
With the menu overseen by world-famous celeb chef Vikas Khanna (it is owned by Rajesh Bhardwaj), the dishes are created using the five most celebrated techniques of Indian cooking: handi (pot cooking); sigri (open fire pit); Pathar (stone); Tawa (griddle) and Tandoor (clay oven). Each dish, as you would expect from Bhardwaj, is of an award-winning quality.
For starters, the eggplant chaat is a must. Crispy, lightly fried and served with tamarind chutney, it will convert even the biggest aubergine-phobe.
If you want something with meat or fish then the piri piri shrimp with coconut purée is also a winner, bursting with East meets West flavours.
As with the starters, we recommend ordering a few mains to share (especially if you’re in a big group). If you go for this option then we suggest definitely opting for the signature black lentil daal with tomato cream sauce (perfect for vegans who like that extra spicy kick), and the murgh lababdar, which is one of the best chicken tikkas we’ve tasted.
For dessert it’s all about the seriously ‘frozen’ ice cream made at your table. Trust us on this one – the showmanship is gastronomic magic.
Some of the best Indian food you will ever try (as a Brummie I should know). Do note that the curries might be slightly hotter than what you are used to.
The ideal pairing of cocktails and modern Indian cuisine. Go with a crowd and go wild with the menu. Don’t be afraid to experiment here. You won’t be disappointed.
Junoon, Shangri La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. Tel: (04) 405 2717.