Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the flagship Asian restaurant at the new Westin hotel is so self- consciously ‘now’. Dubai, after all, is a city where modernity carries far more weight than scuffed traditionalism, and is often all the better for it. The pressure is especially intense on the local dining scene – an increasingly vicious battleground where shiny gimmicks often take precedence over substance, as restaurateurs bid to stay ahead of the game.
All of which brings us to the parable of Spice Emporium.
In keeping with its parent city’s thrusting ethos, the restaurant is replete with contemporary trappings. There’s a pair of futuristic glass cubes enveloping two cooking stations, the attractive low-slung tables are hewn from dark walnut, and the inoffensive Latino house that pumps out of the speakers at a discreet volume has no doubt accompanied slurping diners at a zillion similarly aspirational restaurants across the world.
So far, so hip, and my dining partner and I were suitably impressed by the set-up as we sank into the ergonomically impeccable chairs and bedded in for the evening. The first sign that the restaurant’s chutzpah might outweigh its actual capabilities didn’t take long to arrive however. The huge menu is certainly extensive enough, but with little in the way of a demarcation zone between starters,soups and mains, it’s rather difficult for the uninitiated to plot their path towards a rewarding overall meal.