A customisable menu from the What’s On Award-winning chef. Is The Experience by Reif Othman on the money or off the mark?

If you had to name a local chef who commands as much attention as other international culinary heavyweights, Reif Othman would be high up on that list. After leaving Zuma in 2015, he ventured on his own, churning out Mediterrasian dishes at Play Restaurant & Lounge, a smart, celebrity hangout on the 36th floor of the H Hotel.

One year later, and he’s taken over the 37th floor to create an altogether new VIP concept with only a dozen seats – a restaurant called The Experience, where he cooks and serves every dish himself.

The Experience 2
The Experience can be booked for a private dinner, or guests can simply sit alongside other parties.

Dining at the 12-seat exclusive chef’s table is like attending a private dinner party at your coolest friend’s house – if that friend happened to be voted the best chef in Dubai. Guests are met at the slick lounge area for a welcome drink before being escorted into the dining room, where a huge oak u-shaped table awaits. On one side of the table, chocolate-coloured sofas face out over a panoramic view of Jumeirah, and the exposed brick wall hidden beneath a faux-tiled wallpaper adds to the cool, vintage feel.

Guests are presented with a handwritten menu of courses depending on Reif’s mood and your taste preferences made upon booking.

The Experience 1
Everyone is presented with a handwritten menu which changes daily depending on Reif’s mood.

Anchored around an open kitchen, guests watch on as Reif applies a surgeon-like level of focus to his creations. Think, Hamachi sashimi served on scalding hot Himalayan rock slab; an art-like creation involving squid ink meringue; and a pungent truffle consommé that’s so deliciously piquant it almost sticks to the roof of your mouth.

Lada Niva Noodle wuth King Crab
Lada niva noodle with king crab

Chef Reif's Personally Selected Sturia Caviar...
Chef Reif’s personally selected sturia caviar

Calm and charismatic, with a soothing Singaporean twang, Reif walks you through each of his dishes. Open to questions (many) and criticisms (few), it’s easy to see this passion project is one he shares with pride. A highlight? Reif’s interpretation of the Korean dish called bibimbap. Served in a stony bowl, it’s a hearty mess that includes thick slices of Sendai beef, the highest beef grade possible, warm rice, seasoned vegetables, a raw egg, and chili pepper paste.

Curred Japanese Wagyu
Cured Japanese wagyu

Make no mistake: this is not your run-of-the-mill fine-dining meal. This is complicated cooking made to look easy. You’ll likely chat with Reif for up to three hours – making yummy noises all night. Quite the experience, indeed.

37th floor, The H Hotel, Dhs750 including a welcome drink, daily 7pm. Tel: (04) 3362222. Taxi: The H Hotel. reservations@theexperience.ae

Food: A

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Images: Supplied