FACT reviews the new Autumn set menu at Indian hotspot Khyber Restaurant on Palm Jumeirah.
Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, is a five-star property with a distinct charm that you wouldn’t necessarily expect given the strikingly modern facade. The elegant lobby promotes a sense of discreet luxury with its high-backed leather armchairs and a Victorian-style fireplace that immediately captures the attention.
Tucked away on the hotel’s 15th floor, a colourful Indian restaurant takes pride of place – welcome to Khyber Restaurant,
Khyber offers a rustic environment that feels somewhat palatial with its brickwork, gurgling water features and collonaded archways. It’s a space so different from the hotels interior that it feels as though you’ve been transported to the North-West Frontier, the Khyber pass so to speak, a treacherous mountain pathway that formed part of the ancient silk route between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Khyber is taking things back to basics with a focus firmly on the spices traded along the silk route. While the current trend for Indian food in the UAE has skewed more towards molecular gastronomy and fanciful presentation, Khyber opts for a more restrained approach, taking the cuisine back to its traditional roots. You won’t find the overuse of dry ice here. Instead, the theatrics are based on nothing more than the aromatic flavours, inspired by a restaurant that first opened in Mumbai in 1958. Khyber Dubai takes these same recipes that proved so popular in India and transports them to Dubai, paired with impressive views over the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina skyline.
Our visit coincides with the launch of Khyber’s new autumn set menu which is priced at a very reasonable AED 120 per person and takes diners on a memorable culinary journey. Things start simply with a selection of Khyber’s signature appetisers, comprising of a tandoor cooked Murgh Pudhina Tikka, Lamb Seekh Kebab and Paneer Tikka. A pleasing fixture in Indian restaurants, the individual elements of this platter are plated to resemble the white, orange and green colours of the Indian flag and what surprised us most, aside from the robust flavours, was how tender the meat was.
It should be noted that Khyber isn’t afraid when it comes to spice levels, and the Butter Chicken is the perfect example of this. As a dish often recognised for being creamy and very mild, Khyber’s version opts for a more robust gravy and a good dose of spice to compliment the tomato base and tender boneless tandoori chicken. The Rogan Josh Lamb is another impressive dish that combines a flavoursome sauce with tender meat that is perfect when combined with the side dishes of palak paneer, Kadai vegetables, aromatic jeera rice, naan bread and roti.
The Autumn menu includes a trio of sweet desserts that includes rabri, a sweet, condensed-milk-based dish mixed with jaggery and nuts, mataka kulfi, and the gulab jamun in its thick syrup. The ideal way to finish off a hearty meal of Indian comfort food.
Khyber offers much to admire and the service deserves a special mention. Staff are discreet, friendly and very knowledgeable when it comes to the menu. Meanwhile, the restaurant space and its seating options offer much appeal, especially for families with young children. Khyber offers several secluded booths and two private dining rooms, the largest of which offers stunning views of the Palm fronds from an appealing private balcony.
The Autumn set menu at Khyber provides diners with a value for money option at a time when people are becoming increasingly conscious of their spending habits. At AED 120 for the set menu, plus the option to upgrade to two hours of soft beverages for an additional AED 50, or house beverages for an additional AED 120, makes Khyber a fantastic option when dining on Palm Jumeirah.