It may not be a regular fixture in mainstream alongside the likes of Chinese, French, Indian or even Mexican, but it’s high time we all start taking Peruvian cuisine seriously after it was, for the second year in a row, named as the World’s Leading Culinary Destination at the World Travel Awards, held in Doha, Qatar.
Alvaro Silva-Santisteban, Director of PromPeru in the UAE, who received the award on behalf of Peru at La Cigale hotel in Doha, said: “This recognition is a huge leap of pride for Peru. In less than ten years we have gone from having exquisite cuisine valued by all Peruvians to an exquisite culinary art, a trend that is recognized around the world. This is another step in our vision to have our gastronomy present in every major city of the world. For over 200 years, different influences, products, spices and cultures have been melting in the same pot; once this was recognized by our people, by our restaurants, but especially by Peru, is when that pot became alive, delivering our unparalleled gastronomy.”
So why not spice up your dining experience and enjoy the best of Peru right in Dubai? Among those offering such culinary delights at Toro Toro at Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina, and Story Rooftop Bar in Media City. You can read more about both of these by clicking HERE.
Then there is The Act, which What’s On visited when it first opened back in May. Here’s what we thought of the food back then…
We have been looking forward to the opening of The Act. There’s no denying that the idea of a ‘theatre’ club, open only one day a week and serving a Peruvian menu is exciting, now, is there?
Located on the 42nd and 43rd floors of the Shangri-La Hotel, The Act is the brainchild of theatrical producer, entrepreneur and grandson of legendary lyricist Oscar Hammerstein, Simon Hammerstein. He’s the man behind London’s The Box Soho, Manhattan’s The Box and The Act Las Vegas so the place has pedigree, even if the London venue has a bit of a reputation (nudge, wink).
This is the sort of place that is referred to as ‘exclusive’, where you need to be on ‘the list’, and if you’re not, a bouncer with a dead stare and control of a velvet rope will reject you with a grunt. You have to book a table and dress up (suits and frocks, not Batman and Robin). We arrived for dinner at 9.30pm and, thankfully, our name was on the list.
The Act has been designed to look like an Elizabethan theatre, except the floor in front of the stage is full of tables and chairs rather than rowdy, beer-swilling plebs. Everything is black marble, dark, polished wood, flocked wallpaper and red velvet. It’s sultry, sexy and, with every table taken, the anticipation for the 11.30pm show provided an exciting environment in which to eat.
Peruvian cuisine has been proclaimed a ‘trend’ about to hit the UAE for some time, and the dishes we tried, designed to be shared over a martini, were very good.
The ceviche clasico, red snapper marinated in garlic, ginger, onion and lime juice, as well as leche de tigre (the blend of lime juice, chilli pepper and fishy flavour left over when the raw seafood in ceviche is cured), had quite a kick, while the ceviche de salmon, featuring coconut, mango and chilli, acted as a creamier balance and yellow fin tuna with chives, ginger, yuzu and soy threw some Japanese flavours in to the mix. A maki-style roll consisting of beef tartare wrapped in rice, with a shaving of seared beef draped over the top and crowned with crispy potato was a tasty novelty, but half a dozen firm, plump prawns with a nutty quinoa crust, dipped in a tangy passion fruit and rocoto reduction, were the highlight.
Arroz con pato (duck and rice) consisted of several rich, pink slivers of duck with crispy skin on a bed of rice, flavoured with coriander. Dark beer is usually added, but the dish was a success nonetheless.
The problem was that, at 11.45pm, just after the fleeting opening act – a dangerous looking gent shooting arrows at balloons tied to an attractive woman – the bouncer started to let the long queue of non-eaters into the club. With the tables now surrounded, The Act turned into a standard nightclub and the regrettably short performances became secondary to the customary milling around, jostling and smoking that goes on in such establishments. The Act was no longer ‘exclusive’, and it certainly wasn’t an environment you would want to eat in. To make matters worse, we were asked politely to vacate our table post-dinner, though we have since been assured that if you book a table for dinner it is yours for the night. There’s a simple solution: don’t allow people who aren’t eating into the dining area. Hopefully The Act can sort out its teething problems, because the concept and the food are both very good.
Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3425859. Thur and Sunday 9pm to 3am. Taxi: Interchange 1. facebook.com/TheActDubai