A well-kept culinary secret. That’s the first thought that comes to mind when dining at Moonrise, an Omakase restaurant nestled on the rooftop of a residential building in Dubai.
Having launched in September 2021, the home-grown concept only serves eight customers at a time, with two sittings per night. The multi-course menu is inspired by the flavors of Japan and the Middle East, and is expertly crafted and presented by Dubai-born chef-founder Solemann Haddad, 26.
What to expect and where to sit
One of the reasons behind the restaurant’s allure is its location. Moonrise is located on the rooftop of Eden House in Al Satwa, so it’s not a location you stumble upon, but rather seek out.
It’s worth the effort, though. When the lift doors open, you’re rewarded with panoramic views of the Moon over Dubai’s glittering skyline, which in part inspired the restaurant’s name.
The dining space itself is sleek and stylish, and capitalises on the view with glass walls. The restaurant features high chairs facing an open kitchen area where the chef and his team prepare the dishes in front of their party of eight. But chances are, you’re not going to pay much attention to the vista for long because the food is what takes the center stage.
This is an Omakase dining experience and the menu changes seasonally, with new dishes introduced every two months. Each meal comprises eight dishes, from bite-sized appetisers to decadent desserts, each of which is lovingly explained before you can dig in.
Syrian-French chef Haddad is a self-proclaimed “true-blue Dubai kid” and went to culinary school in London and Japan. His menu is a reflection of this diverse background: expect Japanese and Middle Eastern flavors and cooking techniques, with a hint of Europe thrown into the mix for good measure.
You’ll find plenty of dishes that pay tribute to the region and its flavors. Case in point, our first dish of the evening: foie gras puri. Inspired by Pani puri (“that’s almost as Dubai as it is Indian” says the chef), this bite-sized portion comes with foie gras, saffron and pineapple chutney, plus Sichuan chilli oil. It’s a delicious mouthful, the smooth texture of the foie gras contrasting with the crispiness of the puri, with the sauces delivering a sweet-and-spicy flavor punch.
It also provides insight into the attention to detail you can expect from the rest of the dishes. This includes gunkan – a Japanese handroll, with chutoro or fatty tuna belly, glazed with a sauce made from local honey and date syrup; and spicy Hamachi, the chef’s take on Dubai’s penchant for spicy tuna, made with Hamachi tartare, a fermented chilli from the Levantine and a crispy seaweed tempura.
It’s clear there’s a lot of prep that goes on behind the scenes, but dishes are given the final flamboyant touches in front of guests, who are also advised on the best way to eat it (“right away”, “scoop up the sauce” , “Don’t worry about getting your hands dirty”). So you can see the naan being charcoal-roasted before being served with a muhammara (made with hazelnuts, walnuts and miso) and spalciatella dip, and also watch the A5 Tsukune being garnished.
The two dessert courses being served in March and April are a caramelised white chocolate sorbet over milk crumble and olive oil powder, which is crafted to bring a touch of nostalgia with its breakfast-cereal-style flavors; and a tart mango and passion fruit cheesecake with more white Valrhona chocolate.
Ceviche has become a staple on Dubai’s culinary scene, but props have to be given to the version served at Moonrise. The smooth texture of Hamachi is perfectly complemented by a creamy sumac-infused labneh. The dish is also topped with fresh zaatar and zaatar oil, giving it an intriguing flavor.
For those who want something meatier to sink their teeth into, the A5 Tsukune – a Japanese meatball – is the only dish on the menu that encourages guests to focus on the flavor of one ingredient alone: the beef. The reason? This A5 Wagyu is imported from a farm in Hokkaido, where the cows are fed only pineapple and sugar cane grain. This melt-in-your-mouth main can be polished off in but two or three bites, but it leaves behind a lingering umami flavor.
A chat with the chef
The man behind the project, Haddad, is no stranger to experimentative menus. Formerly with Warehouse 61, which did pop-up dinner experiences in Alserkal Avenue and Inked Dubai, he knows his way around creating never-heard-of-before food combinations.
Since it’s a seasonal menu, it’s hard to predict what will be on the table a few months from now, but Haddad says all dishes have to align with the restaurant’s sustainability and minimal waste policy.
“We’re currently in the process of creating a scallop dish that utilizes the Hamachi fish bones by turning them into a stock,” he says. Also on the cards is a labneh sorbet with earl gray and honey from Ras Al Khaimah.
“We don’t change the whole menu at the same time, but rather do it dish by dish, again to avoid food waste.”
Value for money and contact information
The eight-course tasting menu (the restaurant is currently unlicensed) is priced at Dh475 per person, with all bookings and payments done in advance. Due to the nature of the concept, the team do not cater to dietary restrictions.
Reservations are mandatory, and can be made at www.moon-rise.xyz
This review was conducted at the restaurant’s invitation
Updated: March 21, 2022, 12:20 PM