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REVIEW: Novikov

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At the risk of sounding like insufferable ingrates, it’s easy to feel ever so slightly jaded about restaurants here. No sooner has one slick pan-Asian fusion place opened than another five appear within a month. Fortunately, there’s plenty of originality and new hooks at Novikov to set itself apart fom the gastronomic mileu.

Adjacent to the Sheraton Grand on Sheikh Zayed Road, Novikov is the Dubai incarnation of the Russian-owned restaurant boasting popular outposts in the swankiest corners of London and Moscow, which explains why another Asian restaurant sounds more Slavic than Sino-Japanese.

Walking in to the huge space, it’s plain to see there’s something a little bit different going on. From the bar lounge area to the dining section, the interior has been designed to be as conducive to an intimate, atmosphere as possible. Understated wooden tables and chairs are scattered close together in the middle of the restaurant, surrounded on all sides by two-on-two dining benches.

Novikov’s centrepiece, though, is its seafood market: an exotic, semi-circular food bar positioned in front of the bustling kitchen. Lined by a colourful array of fruits and vegetables (many of which are found in Novikov’s dishes), the market bar houses a superb selection of seafood from all the corners of the world. The likes of Scottish Blue Lobster sits alongside Japanese red snapper, Greek seabass, Vietnamese Tiger Prawns and English Dover sole.

East meets West
Having championed such a variety of made-to-order options, you’d forgive Novikov for offering a slightly narrower selection in the rest of the menu. But no such complacency exists. A fantastically original sushi range (with maki hand rolls on request) compounds an excellent appetiser section that boasts fusion dishes such as Peking duck and foie gras, or the marinated Spanish mackerel. And, being a Russian-owned venue, you’ll find plenty of caviar varieties, too. For us, however, the very moreish wagyu tacos remain the appetiser of choice.

For the mains, after some gentle market-side guidance from our waiter, our opponent for the evening came in the form of the Portugese seabream, expertly wok-fried in garlic, salt and pepper, and served up butterfly style.

Among the menu’s staple grill and wok options also lies numerous stellar representations of more traiditonal dishes, including salmon teriyaki, black cod and Chilean seabass. And if you, like our dining partner, fancy yourself as a bit of a spice aficionado, we’d highly reccomend the Szechuan prawn or lobster options.

If your penchant lies outside of seafood however, the miso chicken and wagyu sirloin are highlights of a formidable meat selection.Even the rice and noodle dishes are a triumph, with all options, from the duck fried rice to Singapore soy noodles, providing a uniformly tasty array of sides to properly compliment your excellent mains.

Of course, the price point is competitive – but unlike numerous restaurants of a similar ilk, where you might walk away questioning the value, Novikov resolutely guarantees enough original and exceptional cuisine, and a refreshing experience, to put paid to any such concerns.

Cuisine: Pan-Asian fusion
Where: Sheraton, Sheikh Zayed Road
Contact: +9714 388 8744, www.millenniumhotels.ae

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