If I were to sum up my experience at Tresind in one single word, it would have to be ‘magical‘. Ofcourse we’ve heard about the restaurant’s take on molecular gastronomy, but the theatrical brilliance of Tresind had us totally spellbound.
The name ‘Tresind’ is a summation of two parts; ‘Tres’ from French meaning ‘very’, and ‘Ind’ for India. Despite all the chemistry that has gone into making Tresind an institution on molecular gastronomy, all the dishes we had the pleasure of trying stayed true to the original culinary flavors of Indian cuisine.
Our table at Tresind boasted of a stunning view of Sheikh Zayed road, but little did we know that this stunning view would get completely overshadowed by the gastronomic showdown we were about to be presented.
A platter of Tresind’s Zatar Pao with Pindi Channa Hummus was presented at the table. Pickled olives and sun-dried tomatoes accompanied it on the side. This is a clever take on infusing local flavors with Indian cuisine. I found the hummus had a deeper, more earthy flavor thanks to the use of Indian Pindi Chana.
We started off our meal at Tresind with their Deconstructed Pani Puri. A lovely young lady came to the table with a chaat trolley, and created this clever little starter right before our eyes.
Tresind’s Pani Puri has all the components of the traditional well-loved Indian street-food, but here the ‘pani’ (the spicy green liquid consisting of fresh mint, coriander and chili) is spooned into a solution of Sodium Algenate to form little green bubbles.
These pani bubbles are scooped out, and served with a dollop of tamarind chutney, and a sprinkle of boondi (deep-fried gram flour balls).
We were asked to pop the entire spoonful into the mouth, as you would a traditional Pani Puri. The pani bubble has a gel-like outer which bursts with an unexpected hit of mint-coriander freshness. The tanginess of the tamarind along with the crunch of the boondi left nothing missing from the traditional version, yet this theatrical showdown made it all the more interesting than the usual chaat house.
The concept of rolling in the trolley to construct each dish right at the table is Tresind’s USP. Like actors in a theatrical performance, the staff play roles with each assigned dish, and take pride in the elaborate showdown it involves.
We met the very talented Sherine John, Tresind’s in-house mixologist. Knowing our 5 year-old would get too enticed with all the magic, John was considerate enough to create her drink first.
This is Tresind’s Lava Lamp, a very clever concoction with a passionfruit base. Akin to the hocus-pocus of a science experiment, the drink is served in a tall, lean, tubular glass. Passion fruit seeds and multi-coloured fruit bubbles float in the mix, and the drama is upstaged when dry ice is added in to get it all smokey. The drink bubbles and fizzes, and has to be the coolest looking lava lamp I’ve ever seen! It has a tangy hit of passionfruit, and a slight fizz that makes this generously large serving disappear in no time.
While my daughter cooed over her gorgeous potion, John got busy putting together my drink. This is Tresind’s Edison 2015.
Aptly served in a glass resembling a light-bulb, this is one of John’s newest creations and will be featured in the much anticipated launch of Carnival, a ‘younger sister’ version of Tresind scheduled to launch in early March. Edison 2015 is ‘berry’ fruity and its consistency resembles the thickness of a smoothie.
My husband was presented with Tresind’s Koyla. ‘Koyla’ translates to charcoal from Hindi, and it is the smokey drama of burnt charcoal that gets the creation of this flavorful drink started.
Tresind’s Koyla is a smoked up mix of Drambui liquer and whiskey muddled with a spiced orange juice. The flavors are bold, spicy and fruity and just as dramatic as the art of putting it all together.
The next Tresind treat to be wheeled in was the Chaat Trolley.
I am a huge fan of tangy-sweet chaat in all forms, and the one created from this trolley is a summation of all the best bits of chaat imaginable… with a little scientific flare thrown in!
It starts off with artistic swirls of multicolored chutneys and layers of crisp savories. The star ingredient here are the dhoklas (steamed gram-four cakes originating from the North Western Indian state of Gujarat). The dhoklas are dunked in liquid nitrogen causing them to freeze-dry and create an illusion cloud of chaat magic. A handful of fresh pomegranate and a sprinkle of masala go into the final touches.
At Tresind, its not just for show. The chaat was so amazingly good, I could seriously live on this stuff! The balance of tangy, sweet and savory was absolutely divine and if you are planning a meal at Tresind, their Chaat Trolley is a must-try.
Next came Tresind’s Wild Mushroom Chai. Essentially a deeply aromatic soup, it is served up in true Tresind pizzazz in the form of a delectable tea.
Each cup gets generous spoonfuls of dehydrated mushroom. However, these are no ordinary mushrooms! The ones used here are a special breed from the Northern state o Kashmir, India. This mushroom variety is called Gucchi and our server tells us that legend has it, they only grow when there is a thunderstorm.
To accentuate the richness of the ‘tea’ even further, two heaped spoonfuls of white truffle oil powder is added to the cups. With a downpour of the brew in the teapot, the soup is ready for sipping.
Tresind’s Wild Mushroom Tea is brimming with mushroom goodness, and laced with the delicate scent of truffles. It is a soul-warming, deeply flavorful soup mushroom fans would devour.
When the Rosemary Lamb Chops hit the table, I was almost disappointed. No trolley means no drama! Tresind was spoiling me big time.
Beautifully cooked to a falling-off-the-bone tenderness, this lamb chop owes its softness to its braising time of 4 hours. This allows for the marinade of flavors to really seep into the meat.
As if in sync with my thoughts, John was back with the drinks trolley! This time, he fired up a passionfruit for me. This is Tresind’s Nilgiris.
Nilgiris is a deliciously smooth, sweet and fruity drink, and if I had to choose between this and the Edison 2015, I would say this one is more to my liking. It is a mixture of vodka and Southern Comfort, and I was rather surprised when I was told it does not have any passionfruit liquor added in. The passionfruit color and flavor of the drink comes through by igniting the passionfruit with absinth.
Hubby was served Tresind’s Smoked Pineapple. Using wood chips to smoke up the flavor of the pineapple based drink, this is yet another fruity sip with a major punch! The drama of smoke adds to the essence of the drink.
However, our absolute favorite drink from John’s trolley has to be Tresind’s Burst 52. A delicious mix of three of my favorite liquors (Baileys, Kahlua and Cointreau), John has used sci-fi magic by creating gel-like balls of the former two, and serving them in shot glasses, floating in Cointreau.
We were encouraged to dunk the shots, bottoms up but slowly chew into the gel balls. The resulting hit of alcohol sweetness made my eyes tear up, and I was eager for more!
The next dish to hit our table was Tresind’s Gulf King Prawns. Harvested from the Arabian Sea, this is a beautifully presented kind prawn coated in a spicy South Indian-style coating and served with crispy banana chips for garnish.
Dahi Bhalla is a very popular North Indian snack. It consists of deep-fried lentil balls that have been soaked in whipped yogurt and is served with tamarind and green chutneys. At Tresind, Dahi Bhalla gets a facelift in the form of an ice-cream!
The flavors of a traditional Dahi Bhalla are all intact, but in the cool, creamy smoothness of an ice-cream. To add texture to the plate, the scoop is served on a bed of crunchy savories and sprinkled with Goji Berries.
Our next dish at Tresind had Mexican influences. Served in a ‘molcajate’ (a traditional Mexican mortar and pestle made of volcanic rock), the chimichurri was all at once a Mexican green salsa and an Indian ‘pudina’ dip. We were served thin strips of Wagyu Beef to dip into this delicious green dip, and I only wish I could have licked up the remains from that volcanic pot!
The next dish had Chinese flavors infused in. This very prettily presented dish is Tresind’s Chilli Hoisin Duck Khurchan. It follows on from the Mexican concept where you have to assemble your own tacos, but here the tacos have been replaced with Indian rumali rotis (white flour pancakes that are a light as a handkerchief). You pull a roti from the clothesline, and spread the green chutney (a blend of fresh coriander, mint and chili). The second pot has a fresh salad stuffing, and this is to be followed by the third which holds a very flavorful mix of shredded duck meat in Hoisin sauce. This dish is as delicious as it is cute. I wish the grass was edible too!
The staff then announce they are now going to bring in our mains! Judging by the dishes we ate so far, I though they were mains! We are so full already, but our hunger for some more Tresind magic remained unsatiated.
We were served a palate cleanser. This is Tresind’s Khandvi Sorbet, a light, frothy sorbet with an unmistakenable hit of curry leaves and mustard akin to the flavors of a traditional Gujarati Khandvi (a steamed, lightly spiced gram-flour cake).
Below is Tresind’s Hunter’s Lamb Leg ‘Raan’. How gorgeous is the presentation?!
The meat is the fall-off-the-bone variety. It is succulently moist and brimming with the masterful mix of Indian spices. A dollop of green chutney on the side acts as a respite from all that meaty richness.
The second dish we are served from Tresind’s Kulcha Shawarma, a clever mix of Arabic and Indian flavors. The lamb stuffing has the chopped up consistency of the popular Arabic street-food, but spiced up with Indian ingredients. Arabic bread is replaced with Punjabi Kulcha. These little slices may look tiny, but sure are filling! We couldn’t do justice to this dish.
If the first two courses were so magical, I couldn’t wait to see what Tresind had in store for us in the desserts round! We were served Tresind’s Deconstructed Black Forest Cake. A layer of chocolate sponge gets topped with Indian ‘peda’ (an Indian version of fudge). Generous squirts of caramel sauce is thrown into the mix. Whipped cream is passed through liquid nitrogen, and adds drama to the process. More lashings of chocolate and sprinkles, and voila! We have Black Forest Cake like we’ve never had it before. Despite being so very full, we did an exceptionally good job and cleaning up this platter!
With all this over-eating, we were desperate for some caffeine. Forget espressos, John made us Tresind’s Espresso Martinis. With an added zest of orange rind, this deeply robust coffee sip acted as the perfect nightcap.
An Indian meal is traditionally concluded with ‘paan’, a naturally occurring spicy leaf that acts as a mouth-freshener. We don’t get paan in the UAE, but at Tresind, they serve paan-flavored cotton candy to end the meal. How artistically apt for Tresind!
Dining at Tresind might require deep pockets, but you sure get the ‘bang’ for your buck (pun intended!). The suave, sophisticated ambience goes almost unnoticed with all the magic happening right at the table. The service at Tresind is exemplary. Where else does the Chef come directly to the table to construct his masterpieces right before your eyes? Dining at Tresind has elevated my fine-dining expectations to another level, and topping the magic of this restaurant would be a mammoth task.