The Royal fits right into the cityscape, as it’s a fifty-one story glass tower, with impressive views of the city, the desert, and from some angles the waters of the Persian Gulf (known in Dubai as the Arabian Gulf, thank you very much).
Getting to Know Dubai
Dubai is a city that's majority expats. Eight in ten people who live there are foreign born, fully half are from India, and many from Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines –- so the city feels like an amalgam of many cultures.
Still, it’s not quite a melting pot, even with the incredible heat -- there’s not much of a “fusion” vibe in the city. Dubai is often compared to Las Vegas, where you can go from Paris, to New York, to Venice without leaving The Strip – and there's a similar sense of dislocation in Dubai. If anything, there’s even more of a focus on hotels and hotel dining in Dubai than in Vegas, since the only restaurants that can legally serve alcohol are in hotels.
Dining at Radisson Royal Hotel Dubai
The Radisson Royal Hotel Dubai encapsulates that global feeling neatly with its culinary program: yes, there’s an Arab restaurant, Al Mersat, which focuses on Gulf seafood and where you can take in regionally specific live entertainment like belly dancing. And there’s Celsius, a casual all-dining restaurant that serves an international buffet, with an outstanding selection of Arab salads and breads.
But then there’s also Indo Thai, which serves delicious southeast Asian fare – think prawns tandoori, beef cheek red curry, lemongrass grilled chicken.
In pride of place on the top three floors of the hotel is Icho, a Japanese restaurant serving all manner of Japanese fare. There’s a dedicated area for teppanyaki – literally grilling on an iron pan, think Benihana without the circus -- beyond which lies some of the hotel’s most stunning views of the city.
Other food offerings at the Radisson Royal Hotel Dubai include a lobby lounge and a pool bar. Worth noting: The executive club level rooms include a lavish breakfast buffet, with the option for hot egg dishes, and pour a mighty fine cup of coffee.
Teppan Cooking ClassIcho is also the venue where the hotel offers its culinary classes. While classes can be arranged for individuals, the program is ideal for a small group.
The class includes both demonstration and participation. Upon arrival, while students eat an assortment of appetizers, the chef demonstrates the correct way to use the teppan to cook local seafood. Only then are aprons and a chef’s hats distributed, and students are invited behind the Teppan to prepare their own lunch.
While eating the results, the chef demos the next dish, moving on through a meat course, and ending with a teppan-cooked dessert, like dorayaki – pancakes with red bean paste and whipped cream.
Be prepared: cooking becomes progressively more difficult as the class proceeds, because wine is included in the price, and is poured quite freely. But the saving grace is that the chef prepares lovely side dishes -- so it would be hard to go hungry no matter how poorly skilled a student proves to be at the teppan.
The class costs 400 AED, or about $100 US dollars, and students go home with apron, chef’s hat, and ingredients list. Inquire about the cooking class when you book your room; classes will be regularly offered starting in June 2012.
Rooms start at 500 AED, or about $136, but go way up from there. As is standard for this hotel chain -- and most appreciated --- wifi is complimentary.