With its striking décor and array of flavoursome dishes, Mekong delivers on its promise to take diners on a culinary journey through southeast Asia.
Throughout the UAE there is no shortage of restaurants that focus on the various cuisines found within Asia. The vast continent is home to a staggering amount of ingredients, while the many cultures each have their own unique take on gastronomy. With so many flavours and styles to choose from, there can often be a sense of culinary confusion. Fortunately, this is far from the case at Mekong, the signature venue at Anantara the Palm Dubai Resort.
Located on the east crescent of the iconic Palm Jumeirah, the restaurant sits in its own building at the very front of the spacious resort. And from the moment you arrive, every element has been designed to make you feel as though you’ve been transported to the Far East. The roof is unmistakably Thai, with its colourful enamel tiles, while the red elephants that adorn the facades and tuk-tuk that sits outside the entrance instantly remind us of our backpacking adventures through southeast Asia.
Within the restaurant the interiors are equally as striking. There are intricate prints on the walls, colourful umbrellas, folding screens and lanterns, and even rickshaw-style seats on the terrace. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into the look and feel of the restaurant and it immediately pays dividends.
Taking a look at the menu, once we’ve settled at our table, it immediately becomes apparent that there is a variety of cuisines on offer. While the focus remains largely on Thai food, there are also recipes from China and Vietnam – these can be easily identified thanks to the countries’ flags appearing next to each dish. With so much to choose from, the menu is separated into several categories, from cold appetisers and homemade dim sum to seafood mains and signature noodles.
We decide to begin the evening with the Mekong sharing platter, boasting a selection of several starters. The appetizers are mainly from Vietnam and Thailand – think highlights of duck spring rolls, chicken satay, pomelo salad, crispy dried beef and grilled squid. Despite there being two of each item, it is far from heavy as each item proves to be the perfection combination of light and vibrant flavours.
When it came to selecting the main courses, we rely on our knowledgeable server who is more than happy to oblige. In the end we choose the Beijing half roasted duck and the beef short ribs, both are served with jasmine rice and Thai black rice, which not only looks striking on the plate but has a mild, earthy flavour.
The dishes were all well presented, with the ribs served sitting on top of the bone and the duck perfectly carved to provide a selection of dark meat and crispy skin. The ribs are wonderfully tender and simply fall apart with the fork, while the Chinese preserves rubbed into the meat provides a mix of spice and citrus flavours. The duck is also expertly cooked and the addition of Chinese buns provide a welcome alternative to the usual egg pancakes. It also makes this a hugely substantial meal that’s perfect for sharing.
Despite feeling more than satisfied, we are convinced to try the dessert menu and opt for the signature Mekong mist and the newly added coconut and palm sugar custard. Described on the menu as ‘sweet temptations’, these dishes prove they can satisfy any sweet tooth.
The Mekong mist is a refreshing affair, with coconut ice-cream, mini fruits, mango sabayon and toasted coconut all combining to produce a light dessert that packs plenty of punch. However, a personal favourite is the immensely flavoursome combination of coconut and palm sugar that proves incredibly indulgent. Smooth, creamy and with just the right amount of sweetness, it is a memorable end to a high-class meal.
Mekong proudly claims that diners can journey through the flavours of Thailand, China and Vietnam when they visit the restaurant, and that is precisely what we discovered. With traditional ingredients and classic cooking techniques, the restaurant truly delivers an authentic taste of Asia.
For more information or reservations 04 5678304 or anantara.com