Sezzam’s vast interior and multiple kitchens are true to the ambitions of the city, says James Fryer, and all the better for it.
Whether it’s off-shore islands big enough to sustain their own ecosystem, a skyscraper to put Taiwan’s 508 metre-tall Taipei 101 to shame or an underwater hotel, Dubai has it all, or at least it soon will have. But sometimes the grandeur gets too much – just too big, too much ambition and too many choices. If ever there was a restaurant to epitomise the spirit of the City of Gold it is Sezzam – located in the biggest mall outside of North America, complete with indoor ski dome and shops touting the latest lines from every brand on the planet. Natch.
Not only is the colossal Sezzam large enough to host 935 people in 21,000 square feet of prime real estate, the portion sizes are also huge. I couldn’t resist the plump sesame-coated tuna (Dhs40) – cooked to a medium perfection on a bed of crisp salad with a manicured dome of cold cilantro sticky rice to one side. The slick presentation of my starter wasn’t mirrored by the shrimp tempura (Dhs55). But, what appeared to be greasy, artery-clogging mush, turned out to be juicy prawns and fresh, crisp vegetables, flash-fried to create a Japanese-inspired sensation for the senses.
Service was up to scratch – a hostess with a warm smile relayed instructions through a headset to a colleague who arrived to show us to our table (a table of vice – we’d opted for a smoking and alcohol position). But post-mains and the staff had vanished. And with a restaurant this big, it was tricky to see where to. We sat tight and waited while enjoying two superb mocktails – mine an Arabic lemonade (Dhs22) with mint leaves and lemon juice and hers a passion berry snow (Dhs22), a chilled blend of strawberries, black grapes, pineapple and passion fruit. A waiter appeared to take our dessert order and promptly reappeared with a huge slab of smooth cheesecake (Dhs20), drizzled with a sweet berry coulis and chocolate brownies (Dhs20), laden with nuts and topped with an artificial-tasting fondant.
As well as generous portions of on-the-whole very impressive dishes made with fine quality ingredients, there’s a lot going on at Sezzam. There are steam, bake and grill seating areas and correlating dishes colour coded on the selection of menus – although most can be ordered from wherever you sit. A quick pick area caters for diners on the go, a modern beverage island whisks up top-notch fresh juices and a dessert bar dishes up classic sweets with a home-made twist. And just beside the kids’ trampoline (containing two large teenagers on our visit) is the gourmet shop with international chocolates, oils and sauces, as well as kitchenware and lavish hampers. And who can forget the in-house magician who appeared halfway through the evening to wow us with lightning quick hand trickery while, in the background, dozens of chefs clad in chic black uniforms could be seen sashaying between cooking stations, paying meticulous attention to the finest details.
Sezzam is big, bold and has a vast choice of food. Like our brash and blossoming metropolis, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sezzam, Mall of the Emirates Kempinski, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3410000.