Review: Shi Restaurant, Bluewaters Island
A new addition to the Bluewaters shorefront is all about elevating your favourite Chinese flavours…
If you’d visited Bluewaters when it first opened at the end of 2018, you’d likely have been one of only a handful of people strolling along the island’s waterfront. But fast forward to 2022 and throngs of people now frequent this scenic stretch of promenade, and the boarded up buildings are now filled with shops and restaurants.
Among the newer additions is SHI, a chic Chinese restaurant and the brainchild of founder Diana Rysbaeva who instantly fell in love with the location when she stumbled upon it last year. It’s easy to see why: right on the waterfront, the twinkling Dubai Marina skyline and sea views provide a pretty backdrop for guests dining alfresco on either the ground floor patio or first floor terrace, both packed with verdant foliage. Inside, wooden accents are intricate and impressive, a collection of rainbow-hued teddy bears are stacked on shelves, and guests sit around tables on sofas and chairs in vibrant hues of sapphire blue and aquamarine.
For a more formal dining experience, book a table downstairs, but for that laid-back lounge vibe, upstairs tables that dot the DJ booth and extend onto the breezy terrace should be the spot you reserve.
It’s here we find ourselves perusing the menu on a Friday evening, where an extensive list of dishes ranges from soups and salads to dim sum, noodles and separate sections for meat and poultry and fish and seafood. While the menu is largely focused on Chinese cuisine, there is also a section of Japanese sushi and sashimi.
We’re advised – and rightly so – to start with a warming bowl of traditional Chinese soup, ours is given a Dubai twist with flakes of king crab and a black truffle punch (Dhs80). From here, it’s a palette of rich flavours across an array of starters: prawn har gow (Dhs70) are chewy, fresh mouthfuls of dim sum, and a duck salad (Dhs125) of crunchy shredded vegetables, lightly fried duck and slithers of mandarin elevates this humble dish to one of the stars of the show.
We keep it traditional with mains: a perfectly presented beef in black pepper sauce (Dhs275) is premium chunks of wagyu beef tossed in a punchy black pepper sauce with red pepper and spring onion adding the perfect extra crunch. We can’t resist trying the Cantonese crispy duck (Dhs285), which isn’t quite as tender as we hoped, but still packs nicely into piping hot pancakes with a tangy Hoi Sin and strips of cucumber and spring onion.
Though normally desserts can be a bit unforgettable at a Chinese restaurant, SHI’s impressive collection are worth saving room for. The signature cheesecake (Dhs75) is served in a neat pearl egg (smashing it makes for an ideal Instagram moment), and even comes with its own little hammer.
SHI elevates Chinese cuisine with carefully curated dishes that go way beyond the basics, and coupled with those lovely sea views, it’s a stylish spot to enjoy a well executed menu.
Shi Restaurant, Bluewaters Island, 1pm to 1am Mon to Thurs, 1pm to 2am Fri to Sun. Tel: (0)4 393 9990, shirestaurant.com