On our recent visit to the award-winning re/ Asian Cuisine by Wolfgang Puck at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, a whole new dining experience was brought to the table; one that highlighted the restaurant’s innovative collaborations and enthusiasm for keeping things varied and exciting for guests. FACT takes a seat to savour a very special menu prepared by renowned Jordanian Chef, Moeen Abuzaid…
On the 50th floor of Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, a dimly-lit venue is warm and intimate, filled with the subdued chatter and laughter of diners who are here for one thing only – a speciallycurated menu by visiting Chef, Moeen Abuzaid in conjunction with the culinary flair of the restaurant’s very own Executive Chef, Brian Becher. The two food virtuosos spent time traipsing through Bahrain’s fish markets and farms to pick up ingredients and inspiration for this extraordinary dinner. “This invitation to Four Seasons in Bahrain is a very special and unique one for me,” Chef Moeen told us. “First and foremost, the hospitality and welcome has been overwhelming. Chef Brian has been a great friend and I’m happy to have been invited. It’s a beautiful place with incredibly kind people.”
Chef Moeen is a New York-based culinarian known for his pioneering techniques to re-imagine and elevate classic Arabic food. The celebrated Jordanian chef hosted two dinners at both Wolfgang Puck eateries in the hotel. Bringing together traditional Arabic flavours to the restaurant’s Asian cuisine, the menu paid homage to classic Arabic ingredients, amped up by the unique additions of South East Asian tastes. “I remain true to Arabian cuisine,” Chef Moeen said. “What changes with my cuisine are the techniques I use to elevate already familiar dishes and flavours. The food I create may be familiar to your palate except you have never seen it presented in this way and the flavours are completely elevated through technique.” We were SO ready for this. We began the epicurean adventure with a salad made up of kale, papaya, bulgur and basil. The result is an amalgamation of deep greens that taste even better than they look. The slight crunch of the kale adds a wonderful texture to the fresh concoction which sees the use of a major grain – bulgur – in Middle Eastern cuisine. Its nuttiness perfectly complements the sweetand-sour tinge of the papaya which brings in the exotic element. A fine start.
The next dish follows suit; duck khubz, avocado tahini, bok choy and daqoos. The khubz is by far the most pleasant revelation of the evening. A thin roti style bread topped with delicious shreds of duck whilst the side of bok choy covers rich meaty slices of the same.
So far, both presentation and taste have equally matched up. But does one matter more than the other? “There can’t be one or the other for me,” Chef Moeen shares. “But, taste triumphs always. A pretty dish is useless without a flavour profile, which is important for all aspiring chefs to know.” A dish that had us all in awe was the Sikken, grape leaf, black lime, Baharat dashi. One of the most used ingredients in Arabic cuisine, the vine leaf here is used wonderfully to conceal a juicy piece of sikken – a buttery white fish that, admittedly, we’d never heard of before this dinner. Cooked to perfection, the silky-smooth fish slides onto our forks like velvet whilst the subtle pungency from black lime adds a lovely thrill.
For the carnivorous amongst us, the 18-hour Wagyu Beef Short Rib is an utterly brilliant amalgamation of tender meat and familiar flavours. Grilled on the binchotan with pomegranate molasses, the root vegetable salsify and the spicy kick of the shatta and coconut emulsion round out another fantastic plating. Chef Moeen told us that the biggest compliment he could receive as a chef is when diners say that his food reminds them of home – and this meaty dish certainly had us reminiscing Sunday dinners with the family.
We end a pretty perfect meal with a strong dessert contender. It’s the one dish that Chef Moeen said received the most surprising reaction from guests. “The tapioca pudding definitely. There are so many layers and flavours one wouldn’t expect,” he explained. “The rose water emulsion, using Jordanian spices with hwayej and mango. As well as adding the candied pistachios and baked caramelised sugar. All these combined made this the hit of the night.”
Chef Moeen’s idea of Fine Arabian Dining is something that definitely translates from idea to plate to palate. “I believe the community this menu was created for is a perfect fit for my style of cooking,” he said. “I believe the menu was received well. I’m happy there was such a great reaction to the food, I couldn’t have asked for more.”
This special collaboration is also proof of the originality and willingness of Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay team who value thoughtful and endearing food partnerships to keep their culinary game, strong. This, we can definitely applaud. ✤
Chef Moeen Abuzaid’s Advice for Budding Chefs:
Learn the basics first. Learn technique and practice. Give your time for free to learn and be passionate about it. Try other chefs’ food, give and receive feedback. Travel as much as you can and explore other cuisines.