PARU PERSUASION

Situated on the rooftop of the Caesars Resort Bluewaters Dubai, Paru is both swanky and contemporary, as if unsure whether it wants to be a trendy lounge or distinct nightclub concept. FACT’s David Tapley takes a seat at acclaimed chef Akira Back’s second culinary opening…

A sleek bar runs the entire length of the restaurant’s left side while groups of tables are clustered beside the floor-to-ceiling windows that provide remarkable views of the Ain Dubai (the world’s largest Ferris wheel) and the beachfront at JBR

Paru’s detailing may be modern but being Akira Back there is a distinct twist. A sculpture of pearls (Paru means pearl in Japanese) hangs precariously from the ceiling as if suspended partway through a daring acrobatic routine. Above this lies a ceiling constructed of intricate origami. As striking as it is beautiful, the delicate paperwork is backlit in various colours depending on the mood of the restaurant, taking on a modish red hue on the evening we dine.

Two large terraces utilise the venue’s enticing rooftop location and make for suitable sundowner options, it’s just a shame the restaurant is so quiet during our Thursday evening visit. Paru’s team of friendly staff emanate both a genuine warmth and an impressive knowledge surrounding the menu and reassure us that the venue gets busier during the later hours.

Paru’s menu offers little in the way of surprises and those familiar with the Japanese-Korean fusion of Akira Back’s cuisine will recognise many of the expected tropes and delight at the inclusion of salmon carpaccio, beeflicious and lobster tacos. These signature dishes are all present and correct and for a menu that revolves around sushi and Japanese specialities, we’re understandably drawn to the Omakase.

The idea of Omakase is to let the chef select the food, allowing them complete creative control over the meal in the hope of creating a memorable dining experience for the customer. Based upon previous experiences this can result in a mixed bag, which can often be played too safe or in some cases far too audacious. Paru’s Omakase selection sits somewhere in between.

Beginning with edamame (both salted and spiced) we’re further eased into our culinary journey with a seaweed salad of wakame, Chuka seaweed, soy plum and ginger aonori vinaigrette. The salad is somewhat of a damp squib both texturally and metaphorically and unfortunately doesn’t set the bar as the first course of an Omakase should. Next to arrive is the Wagyu tataki with its fragrant mixed mushrooms. A fantastic dish that soaks the thin slices of seared beef in alluring truffle soy that provides a wonderful flavour profile

Truffle reigns supreme throughout this particular Omakase selection and while the trio of plump truffle scallops underplay the expected umami, the plate comes across a touch bland despite the baby eggplant, Enoki mushroom and the far-too-subtle truffle soy.

Rock Shrimp Tempura has become a staple of Japanese restaurants in the UAE and here the dish of lightly battered shrimp is overhauled thanks to the inclusion of mango and almonds. The mango is a little too subdued although a hint of sweetness does prevail, working in conjunction with the small pieces of almond to provide a pleasing textural element to proceedings.

The sushi course is where Paru hits its stride. Providing momentum to the Omaksase that snowballs through to the final course! Impeccably presented within an iced bowl adorned with foliage, it’s as if we are navigating the Sea of Trees at the base of Mount Fuji. Paru’s selection of thinly sliced sashimi and bountiful nigiri (salmon, yellowtail and sea bass) will impress sushi aficionados thanks to impeccable knife work and high quality produce.

A duo of main courses represent our preferred dishes of the night and while the miso black cod is perhaps not the most adventurous choice, the Saikyo cod, ume oroshi and basil miso are executed to a very high standard. Allowing the sweet miso to permeate into the flaky white fish with such powerful precision that it’s easy to see why the dish has become synonymous with Japanese dining in the UAE and features so prominently on menus in the region. Similarly, the black pepper Wagyu ribeye served medium rare alongside mushrooms, onion and an interesting black pepper teriyaki represents a dish you should prioritise at Paru, thanks to the tender teriyaki glaze that is sweet and appealing without overpowering.

Desserts take the form of a visually inspiring platter of green tea, vanilla and coconut mochi, alongside a selection of tropical fruits and lemon. The lemon, however, is not the expected citrus fruit thanks to a light and creamy lemon mousse hidden within the confines of the white chocolate shell. The dessert plays well with perceptions and makes for a fun finale.

With an eclectic mixology selection, energetic staff who are eager to please and a wonderful vantage point overlooking Dubai’s latest man-made island, Paru manages to tick many boxes. Comparisons are inevitably going to be drawn between Akira Back’s two Dubai restaurants but there is enough to differentiate the two concepts and Paru fits nicely into the dining repertoire at Caesars Resort Bluewaters Dubai. ✤


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