By Lubna Hamdan
A Russian vibe and Japanese cuisine make a winning combo at this distinctive venue
There’s an unmistakeable Russian vibe about Novikov Restaurant & Lounge, despite the fact its menu is downright Japanese. This is largely thanks to its red-themed décor, picked out by the venue’s owner Arkady Novikov. In Russian culture, the word for the colour red, krasni, was initially used to describe something beautiful, though the noun later evolved into a similar krasivi. Nonetheless, the colour remains intertwined in everything Russian – from iconic monuments such as the Red Square to ski resorts such as Krasnaya Polyana.
Regardless of its intended use in Novikov, krasni makes Arkady’s venue timelessly beautiful.
Taking a seat in the restaurant located inside the Sheraton Grand Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, we further noticed hints of Japanese design: rows of white orchards, dark wood and modern edgy chandeliers.
We decided to begin our evening with a typical Japanese starter, Edamame. The green beans were cooked just right without being too soppy. Next, we opted for the salmon tacos with a hint of citrus. Thankfully, we didn’t experience the usual struggle of tacos falling apart. These were easy (and delicious) to eat. The salmon was utterly fresh thanks to the restaurant’s fresh seafood counter, where guests can also pick out their own seafood and have it cooked the way they like.
The tacos were hard to beat, but our next dish, the scallop and black truffle, was just as good. We’re not huge fans of truffle (we know, it’s strange), but unlike most truffle dishes that have an overwhelming taste, this one had a subtle hint that made us think we might actually be fans of the delicacy.
Following the scallop, we opted for sushi: a signature California roll. Unsurprisingly, it was among the freshest we had ever tried. Then again, we did not expect anything less from Novikov, especially given its large seafood counter.
Lastly for the mains, we tried the mixed dim sum basket, served with duck, chicken and shrimp fillings. Needless to say, it’s all about the dough when it comes to dim sum, and this was cooked just right. We also liked the equal ratio of filling to dough.
Finally, we moved on to dessert and opted for the Japanese Mochi ice cream. Yum, yum, yum. Served at the right temperature, it came in flavours of pistachio, mango, strawberry and chocolate, but neither flavour was too sweet. The dish that really stood out, however, was the Shira Tama sphere, a white chocolate dome which melts at the touch of hot caramel sauce to reveal a scoop of hazelnut ice cream. While Instagram worthy and utterly delicious, it is quite sweet, so do not opt for this if you don’t have a strong sweet tooth.
Overall, we found Novikov the perfect spot for pretty much anything. It has good music but allows you to have an effortless conversation and its crowd includes everyone from groups of friends to couples and businessmen. Famous chef Gordon Ramsay was even spotted there a couple of months back. So if it’s good enough for the intimidating man behind Hell’s Kitchen, it’s good for us.
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