Last year, Armani Hotel Dubai’s dazzling Saraya Tent was the talk of the town. Set up outside the Burj Khalifa overlooking the Dubai Fountain, the location itself was reason enough to visit and, as per Gulf News tabloid!’s review ‘endlessly Instagram-able’.
This year, due to a last-minute hiccup I’m told, there’s no tent. Iftar and suhour have moved indoors and downstairs into the hotel’s ballroom. This is no downgrade by any means, mind you. The Armani/Ballroom is by itself a grand setting. ‘Grand’, of course, in the Armani minimalist context — it’s never ostentatious, always very restrained. Save for the fanoos (a Ramadan lantern) on every table and some Arabesque lamps hanging from the ceiling, the decor is kept light and nice.
But if you’ve been fasting all day, the decor is probably the least of your concerns at sunset. And this is where Armani Hotel’s iftar really comes alive. The focus, explains executive chef Vijay Anand, is to give a taste of all the culinary specialities the hotel has to offer: From Japanese (Armani/Hashi) to Indian (Armani/Amal) and Italian (Armani/Ristorante). The iftar menu changes on a daily basis, too.
We started off with shrimp spring roll, vegetable samosa, cheese rokkakat and a selection of sushi, and got a burst of colour on our plates. Before long, we were ready for our main course. There’s always that sense of urgency at iftar, due to the hordes of hungry people, and the efficient staff are constantly on their toes, topping up dishes and ensuring they’re fresh and warm.
The buffet was long and varied but some of my favourites were the lamb chops, so tender and juicy; the murg makhani was full of flavour; and the dukkah-crusted beef was just nicely done. Of course, an iftar buffer is not complete without an ouzi station and a shawarma station, but here they went further and added the spit roast station featuring chicken and beef, as well as a fish station with an entire sea bass.
It was all a bit too much in the end, and despite promising ourselves every iftar we wouldn’t do it again, we over ate.
Our walk to the desert station was therefore more of a cursory visit, to see what’s on offer. But the cheerful Turkish ice cream guy got the better of us and we went back to our table, like overfed kids at a theme park, happily licking our cones.
Where: Armani Hotel Dubai
Price: Dh235 per person
Timings: Sunset until late