Indochine
4.8

Indochine
With its too cool roots of starting in New York in the 1980s, Indochine is a timeless classic serving exotic French-Vietnamese cuisine.  Their first international outpost is in Dubai.

Reservations
Given the number of ‘reserved’ signs we see throughout the restaurant, we highly suggest calling ahead, 04 2089333.

Parking
For a visit to Indochine, plan to park at the ground floor of the Gate Precinct Building 3 (opposite the Al Fattan Currency House).  Alternatively, customers can use the main valet drop off located at Gate Village. Please note that cars will only be validated if you dine at Indochine.  The first three hours will be complimentary, any additional amount of time will be charged directly to the customer (AED 21 per hour). As usual, we choose a ride-sharing app.

Greeting and Seating
Before entering, we are greeted by a bouncer and hostess (one of our dining companions is carded – much to her glee), and once inside there is a hostess station.  As we’ve picked up another member to our original reservation, the team has us take a seat in the luxe lounge, while they quickly reconfigure a table for us.

Service
If we think back over the past few months, Vlad might be our favorite server.  He is proactive, personable, and attentive. And we’re always delighted when venues allow their servers to have a personality.  We’re also approached by the GM, who inquires about our meal.

Our Order
So what does French-­Vietnamese cuisine look like?  One of my dining companions is of Vietnamese descent and happy to chime in with her opinion (she genuinely liked every dish, and had fun conversing in Vietnamese with a few of the staff).   With a sharing concept style, we dive straight in with an order of chilled Beef and Green Papaya salad, AED68, served with wagyu flank steak and yuzu soy dressing. For our trio, this is an easy plate to split.  Although the consistency looks a bit strange, the subtle taste of the Prawn Kinilaw, AED70, which is served with homemade prawn crackers, is one we all enjoy. We’re also curious about the Escargots, AED105, which feature lemongrass and kaffir herb butter.  Served with house-baked baguette, our server (yes, Vlad) offers to demonstrate the best way to eat this delicacy, and we’re happy to take him up on his suggestion. 

Another favourite from the menu is the Crispy eggplant, AED48, which features slices of aubergine coated in spiced caramel.  We always love to see vegetarian dishes done well, and this is one to order. Another must-try is the Wok-tossed rice noodles, AED65, a recipe exclusive to ­Indochine Dubai.  The rice noodles are actually more like tiny dumplings, or ‘Vietnamese gnocchi’ as Vlad calls them.  

There are five rolls to choose from in the menu, and we decide on two of them. One is the Vietnamese ravioli, AED65.  Arriving in a steamer basket, and filled with chicken, prawn, and shiitake mushrooms, everyone else at the table seems to enjoy the dish, but the lack of texture isn’t something I particularly like.  Our second roll, the simple but well done Fried Imperial Rolls, AED55, is literally something I can’t stop eating. The crispy combination of shrimp and chicken, along with some fresh salad and bright dipping sauce are fantastic (and yes, there is a vegetarian version).

For main dishes, we take Vlad’s advice and ttry the Crispy scale amadai, AED186, a dish exclusive to the Dubai restaurant.  Do I usually look forward to fish scales? Not particularly, however, I did thoroughly enjoy the crispy skin and accompanying lemongrass sauce.  While all the dishes we’ve had so far feel priced correctly, it is only the plate I think is a bit on the high side. However, it’s definitely a large enough dish to share.

Finally, we order not one, but two desserts.  The Banana Beignets, AED45, are a little bit of heaven.  The bananas are served up with homemade dulce de leche and disappear quickly.  The Vietnamese Coffee Panna Cotta, AED50, isn’t as big as a success, but for those who prefer a more subtle dessert, this might be of interest.  Overall, we’re full of delicious food.

Pacing
Exactly where it needed to be.  We feel neither rushed nor do we wait long between courses.  It’s honestly been a while since we’ve not been asked (bothered) about whether or not we’re ready for the next course.  (An author’s side note — diners are always giving off signals to indicate whether or not they are ready, and well-trained servers should be able to correctly spot these differences).

Ambiance
This might be one of our favorite interior designs in Dubai.  While yes, there are a lot of covers, the space of Indochine is broken down such that every ‘room’ feels intimate.  The lounge, dining room, and other private spaces are the opposite of the too large, too loud, too much of other Dubai restaurants.  Furthermore, the DJ seems to have found a sweet spot in a way I’ve rarely experienced in the city. The music is so good that Vlad inquires if we have USBs (so he can get the tracks downloaded for us).

Price
We honestly expected worse!  Given this is DIFC, and prices can be at the upper end of things, we’re pleased to see what we consider reasonable and competitive pricing for the neighborhood.  If we think some dishes are a touch too high, the remainder of the menu balances.

Overall, would you return?
Without a doubt.

Recommendations
Go in with an open mind, and work with your server to get the right amount of food and a few signature dishes.  For us, the Eggplant, Rice noodles, and Banana Beignets are all must orders.

Disclaimer: MenuPages.ae was a guest of this establishment.