Want a taste of Tbilisi in Dubai?

Want a taste of Tbilisi in Dubai?

Dubai just got a brand new Georgian restaurant and it's got some high-flying views. Full review here


Nivriti Butalia

Published: Fri 5 Oct 2018, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 12 Oct 2018, 1:54 PM

Khachapuri. I imagine that nobody lands up in Tbilisi and leaves without tasting this ubiquitous cheese-filled bread. It's an indispensable part of menus in Georgia - except for menus at fancy restaurants that strive to put themselves at a slight remove from traditional fare. You won't get Khachapuri there. But I have memories of eating fresh, gigantic, calorific khachapuris every day while it rained, wolfing down mushroom soup and tkemali (a plum sauce). The food in Georgia! I raved about it after a visit.
Here in Dubai we are not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to Georgian restaurants. There is a lack of that rich, cheese and meat centric fare, the white sauces with garlic and tarragon. After a weekend in Tbilisi, I had khachapuri withdrawals, and cheese toast just didn't cut it. A cheese naan, might have.
With a soft spot for the place and the food, I was excited about the new Georgian restaurant in town, called Modi. Modi means welcome. It's on the 31st floor of Sofitel Dubai Downtown. They're pitching it as the highest Georgian food restaurant. Great location. You can even walk from the Burj Khalifa metro station!
As delighted as I was to swoon over familiar names on the menu, my one disappointment: despite 10 savoury breads listed under pastries, the absence of khachapuri with a fried egg on it. They do, however, have the one I like less, with a bean stuffing (lobiani), and other variants with meat. Also, the fat juicy dumplings called khinkali are alone worth a visit to Modi.
Fresh, piping hot, you can taste the herbs. The baby chicken dish (Dh89) called shkmeruli took forever to arrive but was tender and perfect. Vegetarians, try the stuffed eggplants, badrijani nigvzit (Dh 34). No one should skip the khinkali, stuffed with meat or mushrooms.
Headless mannequins, Georgian costumes, dim lighting and great views - but the highlights are the traditional dances and the live music. Agile servers break into flamboyant leaps. One moment a man is tending to a customer, next thing you know he's flying through the air.

They're warm and forthcoming - the general manager, Aleqsi Nozadze, knows his food and adequately answers questions. However, efficiency isn't Modi's forte. There is a sense of being unhurried which is great, but doesn't work if you want to get home by a certain hour.

The care taken is evident. Even the simple dishes, like the starters, come in nice bowls and wooden platters. Simple but effective. The copper serve ware glows in that light. Their sauces, the satsebeli and the tkemali (Dh 11 each), come in tiny fetching terracotta bowls.

They already have a licence - commendable for a new joint. You get your money's worth. Go for the live music - except Tuesdays ("because we get tired," said Sandro) and the view of the city is remarkable too, and if you want to taste authentic Georgian fare.

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