First look: chic Chinese dining at Moli by Shi, Dubai Hills
Sophisticated Chinese dining with a sultry, soirée vibes? That’s wholly Moli…
Fans of Asian fine dining are probably already well aware of Shi and its sophisticated Chinese charms. The word ‘elevated’ seems to be the unofficial linguistic culinary mascot of 2023, but here – elevated Chinese cuisine really, genuinely is the best way to describe the dining experience.
It’s also at the heart of what’s happening at the restaurant creator’s new Dubai Hills Business Park project, Moli. That same laser-focused attention to creating genuine sino-Asiatic masterpieces of taste and presentation. And, as with Shi, the chic Chinese influences extend well beyond the menu at Moli.
The venue is a blizzard of exquisitely studied details – in its ornate timber frame knots and ceiling paneling; the army of terracotta pots presented above the bar; crimson red drapes hemming the perimeter; the hidden Chinese characters and artwork; Asian mythologically-inspired cocktails; jasmine-bloom chandeliers; silk print restrooms; and the ‘mane event’ – the striking pair of stone lions overseeing reservations at the restaurant’s reception.
Perhaps the most seductive signature feature of the venue is reserved for evening seatings – a golden glow rising up from the marble-esque floor of the central dining space. If you squint, you can almost see sprigs of cherry blossom in the polished veins (and we know, cherry blossom is usually associated with Japan, but it’s a staple of China’s floral art too).
There has been a very deliberate attempt to create a forked day vs night experience at the venue. In the sunlight hours, the space is lit by a river of natural light – a great spot for an impromptu business lunch or smashing a few rounds of dim sum after a retail splurge at the mall next door. Then, as the night creeps in and the curtains come down – the vibe slips into something more sultry – a trendy restaurant-bar, with a soundtrack engineered by a live DJ and band.
What’s On the menu?
Some of the dishes have made the journey from the sister restaurant on Bluewaters (a fact that will be of particular interest to fans of Shi’s crispy duck salad, Dhs125), which is perhaps unsurprising given that the menu was put together by the same culinary mastermind, Chef Li. But it’s worth noting, there’s more to explore at Moli.
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Like the signature roasted duck with foie grass and caviar (Dhs325); sea cucumber with Magi Yaki sauce (Dhs330); sushi rice and Peking duck, accompanied by homemade sweet-sour plum sauce and scallion pancakes (Dhs445); wagyu beed with pickled vegetables (Dhs175); and caramelised seabass with truffle (Dhs225).
The decadent dessert division, offers up such theatrical treasures as the lucky cat, a finessed feline-shaped treat filled with yuzu cream, nashi pear, and dulce de leche crumbs – an homage to the ubiquitous gold, waving arm cat statues of the restaurant’s spiritual homeland; the mandarin baba, a soft mandarin brioche, vanilla, and honeycomb tuille; the flower of the five wonders, a decadent chocolate cake with passion fruit, vanilla ice cream; and the ominous sounding chocolate pyramid, set ablaze for theatrical effect.
After taste-testing the dishes, we can confirm we wholly approve of Moli, a name which apparently translates as ‘Jasmine’ in Chinese. Appropriate, because some of those flavours have been blowing through my mind since the visit. Final note to the reader: get the Sanpei king oyster mushrooms (Dhs65).
Moli by Shi, Dubai Hills Business park, building 4, Sun to Thu midday to 1am, Fri and Sat 1pm to 2am. Tel: (0)4 276 3338. @molidubai