Review: The Pods
Warning: you may experience FOMO…
When a restaurant has so much hype, it can be a blessing and a curse. The expectations around Bluewaters’ The Pods have been so high, thanks to its private dining pods, that upon opening it has become one of the most in-demand dining experiences in Dubai. Spoiler alert: it exceeds expectations.
The USP is in the name: there are 22 pods in three different sizes, which can seat up to six, eight and 14 people. As the pods tick so many boxes – business meetings, family get togethers, birthday parties, romantic dinners and basically anything where you want privacy – you can see why this would be popular, but we imagine that the creators just didn’t anticipate how popular.
It was easy to spot the restaurant – although not its entrance – as you follow the crowds or, more precisely, the camera phones. The Pods have the kind of attention reserved for a tourist attraction, and it has already turned into a dining destination. Plus, a place that is proving popular with locals.
It’s easy to write The Pods off as a gimmick, but it’s one that is easy to get behind when the food – which is why we’re here, after all – is actually good. Given the adventurous dining concept, the Pan Asian menu plays it safe with staples ranging from Chinese to Japanese dishes and caters to all your dim sum and sushi needs.
The recommended starters were hit and miss. The Korean chicken bao (Dhs120) had a flavourful filling with crispy chicken, Asian slaw and gochujang mayonnaise, but the bun was disappointingly more thick than fluffy. The poh pia tod spring rolls with glass noodles and fresh vegetables (Dhs60) were more chewy than crispy.
The mains are – rightly so – the stars of the show. The ocean platter (Dhs275) was filled with sushi. Lots of sushi. The platter has 10 different types of sashimi and nigiri. While there’s enough for everyone, the main sharing that will be done is on social, as it’s served with a side of dry ice theatrics.
The favourite – which was so good, we were tempted to order it again – was the beef rendang curry (Dhs160). The meat was so slow cooked, it was just the right level of soft, meaning it had absorbed all the spicy and sweet flavours. While a side of greens might not be first on your list, the gai lan (Chinese broccoli; Dhs75) was surprisingly good.
There are plenty of playful cocktails – we’d recommend the steal my heart, with rose wine, strawberry and peach, as a refreshing aperitif (Dhs85) – and the wine list is extensive with a good selection by the glass.
The mochi desserts (Dhs50) were texture-tastic, as they were soft and smooth in all the right places. And, as they were sliced in half, it meant we could share the flavours, which included coconut, green tea and salted caramel.
While this isn’t a cheap dinner, as the cheapest stir fries and noodles are Dhs120, and there is a minimum spend of Dhs250 per person, we are sure it will be a memorable dining experience. If you want to extend the fun, pre- or post-Pods, you can visit the bar, which has plush sofas and pretty foliage.
The phrase Instagrammable is as common as an influencer in Dubai, but The Pods have already earned a place in Dubai’s Insta hall of fame. It has the kind of setting that would make Love is Blind producers jealous, especially due to its swoon-worthy views over Dubai Marina and The Palm Jumeirah.
Plus, everything is under your control – lighting, temperature (yes please for the summer) and exactly when you would like a waiter (who comes smiling and swiftly). And, if that wasn’t enough, it’ll soon have a swanky upgrade: a press for Champagne button.
The Pods: where everyone feels like a VIP.
The Pods, Bluewaters Dubai, 6.30pm to 12am daily. @thepodsdubai