Fuego translates to ‘fire’ in Mexican, and is the aptly chosen name for Souk Al Bahar’s contemporary fine-dining Mexican restaurant. I am always game for a Mexican fare, what’s not to love about spiced up taco pockets stuffed with spiced up beef, and loaded with guacamole and cheese? At Fuego, I learnt there is far more to Mexican cuisine than street-food equivalent tacos.
Headed by Chef Rene Manzanilla who’s flattering Mexican accent makes everything all the more authentic, Fuego takes the rustic goodness of Mexican tradition, and plates it up in a scrumptious, contemporary setting.
Fuego does away with the cliche sombreos and poncho displays. The interiors are artfully decorated with mirrored walls, back-lit architectural art, and wall paintings including one of Frida Kahlo, the queen of goth herself. The Mexican hues of bright oranges, turquoise and purple are used subtly here in the form of table napkins.
Once seated at our table, we were offered a bowl of complimentary tortilla chips, and two mini bowls of salsa (one fiery hot, and the other child-friendly). Having walked about the mall all day, we attacked these with great gusto as we flicked through the Fuego menu.
We started off our Fuego experience with Mexican cocktails. When I saw ‘Tamarind’ under Fuego’s margaritas section, I had to try it. I absolutely love anything and everything with tamarind, and had never had it in the form of a margarita!
Fuego’s Tamarind Margarita is a beautifully sweet and sour mix of tamarind puree, tequila, orange liqueur and sour mix. Although a straw was provided with the very trendy, rustic-style mason jar, I was advised to sip it from the jar directly, and take advantage of the salted rim. This drink is divinely delicious! I wish tamarind margaritas were more easily available elsewhere. I will have to make many trips back to Fuego for this one!
Hubby wanted a beer, and got introduced to Modelo, Mexico’s most prized beer. The staff served it to him in a Mexican version of a Bloody Mary, muddled up in a spicy tomato juice base. I detest beer, but one sip off Hubby had me sold! I think I need to stay away from Fuego… their cocktails are lethally good!
At a Mexican restaurant, how can we not have guacamole? At Fuego, guacamole is created on the spot (and therefore aptly called ‘Guacamole on the Spot‘!).Chef Rene arrived at our table with the guacamole-making tray. In goes the avocado, diced tomatoes, a little chili, cilantro and onion, all pounded together in a very heavy, rustic-looking Mexican mortar called Molcajete. Chef Rene’s secret ingredient for perfect guacamole is fresh lemon juice. He insists really good guacamole should have the taste of fresh lemon sprinkled with salt. To finish off, a dash of freshly ground pepper is added to the mix.
The taste of fresh, salted lemon ran through beautifully in this creamy avocado dip, and it was a real pleasure scooping it all up with the fried tortilla chips on the side.
We also tried tacos at Fuego. On the left is Fuego’s Tacos De Barbacoa an on the right is the Tacos Al Pastor.
The Tacos De Barbacoa are topped with very succulent braised lamb that has been finely shredded to take in two very flavorful sauces made of tomatillo and borracha. These tacos are topped with diced onion and cilantro, and are served with a lamb broth on the side.
The Tacos Al Pastor feature marinated chicken topped with grilled pineapple and garlic sauce. It has an Asian twist with the addition of Adobo sauce.
For our mains, Hubby ordered Fuego’s Duck A La Pibil. Pibil is traditionally slow-roasted pork, and has been handed down from the Mayan dynasty. At Fuego, Chef Rene has kept to his roots when it comes to flavor combinations, and substituted the pork for fine-dining worthy slow-cooked duck. The duck has been sauveed to seal in the flavors of a decadent Achiote citrus sauce, and ensures that the duck meat is beautifully tender and absolutely falling off the bone. It is served with dollops of habanero emulsion, and trickled down with a red onion puree. A cute little corn puff is served on the side.
I had Fuego’s Salmon Green Mole. The salmon was deliciously cooked, with moist, steamy pink flakes on the inside and a decadently crisp skin on top. It sat on this moreishly divine Mole sauce made of green tomatoes. This sauce was the highlight on my plate, and after the salmon was gone, I scooped up the remaining with the risotto rice that came on the side.
By the time we were done with our mains, we were too full to even think of desserts. Richard, our lovely host for the night, insisted we tried Fuego’s Chocolate Fantasia.
Richard is a Filipino expat, but seems to know everything there is to know about Fuego’s Mexican offerings. He tells us he hardly ate any Mexican till he started working here, and absolutely loves it. We can tell why! The Chocolate Fantasia is Richard’s favorite dessert at Fuego, and I would recommend every chocolate lover out there to give it a try.
Fuego’s Chocolate Fantasia is a chocolate sphere, sitting on a mound of chocolate soil. When a piping hot chili-chocolate sauce it poured over the sphere, its interiors reveal a chocolate brownie and berries filling. Chocolate, upon chocolate, upon chocolate… pure indulgent decadence! To cool off from the richness, a very fruity guava ice-cream is served on the side. Despite complaining about being so overly full, we did a great job at clearing up this plate!
Even if you are not a huge fan of Mexican, Fuego’s is sure to make a convert out of you. Fuego is an absolute fiesta of flavors dished up in the extravagance of fine-dining so akin to Dubai living.
Fuego’s is located on the 3rd floor of Souk Al Bahar, opposite Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai. If you are planning a visit, I highly recommend you book a table. Call 04 4490977 for reservations. Provecho! (That’s ‘bon appetit’ in Mexican 🙂 ).