Is Bungalo34 just another beach restaurant in Dubai or does it bring something new to the table?
Since descending on the white sands of Pearl Jumeira Island in January, the beautiful beachside destination has already caused a stir and even got the Sheikh Hamdan seal of approval.
Brought to you from Tashas Group – the team behind Flamingo Rooms by tashas, Avli by tashas, and tashas café – Bungalo34 is named after and inspired by the founder Natasha Sideris’ holiday hideaway in Greece.
We love that the main entrance takes you directly into the Collective – a gorgeous shop selling everything from unique French perfumes to colourful swimsuits and Jane Birkin-style wicker bags. Take our money.
Through the corridor and into the restaurant, memories from childhood holidays in the South of France come rushing back.
As with all of Natasha Sideris’ concepts, an impressive attention to detail is reflected throughout with a story to tell in every corner. From her own personal art proudly hung on the walls to hand-picked serving dishes from around the world, the stylish interiors are oozing with personality, creating an idyllic dream world.
Despite being located within the residences of Nikki Beach Resort, Bungalo34 is far from a beach club vibe with a calmer, more laid-back family-friendly atmosphere than the rest of the grounds.
The restaurant elegantly and gradually pours onto the beach with plenty of seating options – from the bar to the sand – fully exposed to the ocean view.
Sit down in the sand with the wonderful view ahead and order the frozen cocktail of the day – ours was a zesty Aperol spritz – before looking down at the menu which aptly reads “walk with me, laugh with me, dine with me”.
Fitting perfectly with the location, the menu is focused heavily on fish with a seafood station for guests to choose their catch of the day.
From the starters, choose the carpaccio cacio e pepe to share (Dhs196). It is the first time we’ve seen these two classics served as one on a menu in Dubai. And while a chilled serving of fettuccine on a bed of beef carpaccio topped with parmesan and rocket isn’t the lightest starter, it certainly is not one to be missed.
Take your pick from the fish display and order the iliya trio to share – served three ways the seabream is prepared into a carpaccio, crudo, and tartare. The seabream carpaccio has the perfect balance of sweetness and richness, enlivened with a generous portion of mandarin dressing. Most impressive, however, was the tartare. Spread every last spoonful onto the thin crispy bread with a dollop of the light yet creamy tonnato sauce.
The mood is sophisticated yet playful with a synth-pop playlist featuring the likes of A-ha playing in the background. The service is enthusiastic yet comfortable, we’re not rushed but rather encouraged to explore the surroundings and take our time.
We know not to judge a book by its cover, but the Amalfi lemon pasta (Dhs88) is a standout dish both in appearance and taste. Simple, bright, warm, and tangy, thick bucatini pasta is covered in a creamy lemon sauce for a memorable dish. After a walk on the beach and a dip in the sea, we head back to our table to order dessert.
We couldn’t decide between the Bungalo boat (Dhs72) and the chocolate mousse (Dhs56), so went for both. The chocolate mousse comes with mini melt-in-your-mouth cookies and warm salted caramel sauce for dipping. Worth every calorie. The Bungalo boat looks almost too good to eat, with the right amount of crunch, crumble, and cream to end the meal.
Verdict: The food is impressive and the surroundings inspiring, but it is the immaculate attention to detail and thoughtful service that makes the experience sing.
Bungalo34, Nikki Beach Residences, Pearl Jumeira Island, Jumeirah 1, Dubai. Daily 9am to 12am, from Tuesday, January 17. Tel:(0)4 238 1780. @bungalo34 / bungalo34.com