A taste of Peru

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A taste of Peru

Story Rooftop Lounge brings Peruvian street food to the bustle of Dubai

By Rohit Nair (senior Features Writer)

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Published: Fri 20 Feb 2015, 7:09 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 12:26 AM

A taste of Peru

Our little Peruvian journey continues this week with a little known restaurant and lounge atop the Holiday Inn Express in Dubai Media City, smack behind the Zayed University. Or perhaps it’s well known and less frequented.

Either way, the place was half full and &distinctly lacked a vibe or buzz, despite the stunning views outside. That’s where we’d recommend you sit, particularly because smoking is allowed indoors, and unlike some of the fancier places that have immense air conditioners to suck up all that smoke, this place is ¬iceably tinged with the dull odours of &tobacco (including sheesha).

My dinner date and I played a bit of musical chairs to get to our table outside, but we were glad we finally did. In the meantime, the quick and rather courteous staff were happy to keep us hydrated with many a mocktail. There are plenty of drinks to choose from, including some traditional South American fare, which might give you the impression of it being a lounge more than a restaurant. But rest ass-ured, the food is definitely worthy of its place on the menu.

A taste of Peru

A taste of Peru

It starts with the cevicheria section, offering a host of extra-fresh seafood drenched in citrusy flavours. We tried the Tuna Ceviche and the Causa Anticuchera, which were both pot-ently astringent. The tuna is diced and served with mango, avocado, and delicious fried plantain chips. Of course, being a ceviche, it’s smothered in lime and a tangy, acerbic Nikkei dressing. The Anticuchera has a whole host of flavours, so prepare yourself. The prawns — skewered and served on top of a tower of layers of mashed sweet potatoes, Aji Amari-llo-infused potatoes, avocados and olives — is delicately charred on a grill for a nice smokey aftertaste. The rest is a smorgasbord of flavours that might overwhelm most — you can taste every individual component, which is remarkable, but together, there’s a little too much going on. It’s worth a try though, for its uniqueness.

Then there’s the picanteria section, which is basically hot appetisers. We went a little overboard with these, to be honest, just &because we had no idea how big the portions would be. Turned out, though, they were &just right. The Lomo Saltado Spring Rolls were the first to arrive at our table — four crunchy spring rolls with a beef filling served with a spicy dip. Not phenomenal, but very good. There’s also a vegetarian version, for those so inclined. Chicken Croquetas were up next, which were equally good. Fried, poultry versions of fishcakes: they had a good crunch and a nicely spiced chicken mince filling.

Finally, we tried the Empanadas Carne, which again, fits into the Peruvian street food theme the restaurant is alluding to. I’m yet to find a great fried empanada in Dubai, but this one’s certainly in the better pile; well-seasoned and balan-ced in flavour, particularly with the salsa on the side.

For the mains, or &the huariques, we just &ordered the Octopus El Carbon, mostly becau-se “too many starters!” However, we were glad we didn’t order anything else because the octopus was delicious. Grilled to perfec-tion, it is served with a sticky balsamic reduction and dollops of a rocoto, which is a chilli pepper rarely used, but quite prevalent in Peruvian cuisine — and sweet potato mash.

For dessert, and make sure you leave room for this, we tried the Pastel de Manzana and the Dulce de Leche Fondant. Both are excellent. The first is a warm apple crumble-esque dessert laced with cinn-amon that’s perfect for this lovely weather. The latter is, what I think, one of the best &fondant desserts I’ve had in Dubai. It’s a &wonderful take on the classic Latino Dulce de Leche, served with a delicious banana ice cream. A lot of high end restaurants in Dubai treat desserts as an afterthought, but we were extremely glad, and pleasantly surprised at the quality and finesse of the desserts at Story.

Even if Peruvian food is not your cup of &mate de coca, Story Rooftop Lounge is worth a visit. The food is tasty, the service decent and the views are brilliant.


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