This is a restaurant with a gimmick, but don’t let that put you off. The gimmick at Mekong, a new Asian restaurant at the Anantara on The Palm, is that you can eat dinner while sitting in a rickshaw or a tuk-tuk. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to haggle with a driver for a price before you sit down to eat; the prices are already on the menu.
Unlike other restaurants, where quirky touches are put in place to distract diners from substandard food, Mekong has installed the substitute tables simply to add a memorable twist to your evening. Other nice pieces of design include an open cooking station decked out with chickens hanging in a window; a water feature with ornate statues sourced directly from the Far East and shutters suspended from the ceiling.
Mekong offers food from China, Vietnam and Thailand, three of the six countries through which the Mekong river flows. This is Southeast Asian street food, but with far better hygiene standards than those endured by a backpacker in Bangkok.
The origin of the dishes, of which there are many, is cleverly distinguished on the menu by national flags, which means ordering dinner also acts as something of a trivia quiz on identifying flags.
The meal kicked off with an amuse bouche of leaf-wrapped spices, peanuts and dried vegetables. Following this, the starter platter was a basic yet tasty affair of crispy spring rolls, Thai shrimp cake and prawn toast.
For main, the black cod was as aesthetically pleasing as it was gloriously smooth and tasty, and came served on a hot marble plate with lashings of greens. It stands toe-to-toe with that served at Dubai’s leading Japanese restaurants. Other options included the traditional green and red curries, as well as rib eye beef and a coconut roasted halibut. Rice – at least five variations of it – comes by the bucket-load, too.
Desserts fall under the title ‘sweet temptation’, and that’s what they proved to be. The highlight was the panda sticky rice with sweet mango and coconut cream.
Anantara, The Palm, Dubai, daily 7pm to 1am. Tel: (04) 5678888. Taxi: Anantara, The Palm. dubai-palm.anantara.com