Review: Tresind Studio, Season 4, Dubai: A Food Truck Revamped?
Trésind Studio, Season Four
Trésind Studio, Level 2, voco Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 15 courses, non-vegetarian menus, 2 sparkling water, 1 aperitif excluding service (AED648, $187, £148, €163).
Phone: +971 4308 0440
A seriously good price offering excellent value
Masala truffle poppadom, lamb birria taco, butter chicken, curry prawn ramen, PB&J standout dishes
Introduction of cocktail pairing is very welcomed
Engaged, knowledgeable service as always
Social distancing and safety pre-cautions observed
Frequently updated menu keeps the Season dynamic
Music and decor will be divisive for some
Trésind Studio, Season 4: Food Truck
Truth be told, Trésind Studio was on my mind a lot during Dubai’s plunge into COVID19 isolation. Trésind Studio was the last restaurant I visited (and reviewed) before we were all told to stay home and then apply for police permits in case we needed, you know, anything. Sasya Season 3’s review was written from home pondering whether I would make it back to Trésind in 2020. Worse, would Trésind Studio survive the worst blow restaurants faced since the 2008 recession? I remember talking to the bar staff and waiters over a superb rum-based old fashioned with clove and chocolate bitter (it slaps) and mulling over ‘what would happen’ as the world shuttered around us. Striding through Trésind Studio’s second-floor doors in the voco Hotel was an act of dropping the second bookend on COVID19, so far.
Is a Food Truck theme incongruous with Trésind’s meticulously curated mini-plates? Does, essentially street food, warrant a spot in one of Dubai’s best restaurants? And why am I getting dressed up in this Dubai summer heat to sit partitioned behind the plastic sheeting of a Careem for 40 minutes to eat 15 courses of baos, poppadoms and butter chicken? I ate this off the back of a delivery bike during lockdown when the threat of enduring my own cooking one more time felt like cruel and unusual punishment.
Trésind’s food truck is really a proxy for street food; a once-maligned and overlooked culinary staple. Street food enjoyed a resurrection in recent years coupled with our insatiable desire for everything on small plates. Eating a sturdy three courses is borderline gauche and anathema to Dubai diners these days. So 15 attentive street food courses lay fertile ground for Chef Himanshu Saini and his Trésind crew of merry men to do what they do best. They always played in this area with pani puri, chaat and nods towards Indian street classics in previous seasons.
Trésind Studio, Season Four: The Experience
The entrance provides tell-tale signs of COVID19 protocols. I bow towards the voco Hotel staff as they take my temperature. Floor stickers remind me to keep my distance leading me towards elevators equipped with hand sanitisers. How did I survive before? The sister restaurant, Trésind (just Trésind), looks as I remember it. Stunning cobalt blue with its embossed gold logo. An easel highlighting Trésind is 50 Best Discovery listed, and rightly so.
Masks everywhere like a hygienic Venetian carnival. My greeter muffles a question. I muffle my reservation confirmation where I am taken through Trésind to Trésind Studio. The tell-tale sign of social distancing as tables are removed creating enough space for a pool table. Trésind Studio was way ahead of the times with its table distancing only sacrificing two covers.
The food truck theme is not limited to just the menu. The decor is radically revamped from restrained minimalism to leaning in hard on street art designs of popular culture references. The Joker watches over me asking Why So Happy? A Kung Fu panda stands over the kitchen’s pass. The staff shed their waistcoats in favour of black polos and plastic face shields. I find myself leaving Shazam on auto as Khalid and Normani play in the background. Music is ever more present in this season vs others. Trésind Studio is back but it has changed. Customers will unpeel themselves from months of sweats and lethargy but this does not mean they want pomp and ceremony either. Ernest Hemingway once said that wearing underwear was as formal as he ever hoped to get. Once again, the man may have been ahead of his time.
Trésind Studio, Season 4: The Menu
Two menus are on offer: a vegetarian and non-vegetarian (aka meat) menu. Both are astonishingly good value at AED225 per person costing only AED15 per course. Each course actually less than the price of some burger vans around Dubai. I always debate where the line is for good value when embarking on a tasting menu. 50% outstanding, 70% outstanding? Trésind Studio’s Season Four castes this as moot with this superb cost to value proposal.
I will spare you the course-by-course analysis as I did with Sasya Season 3 so, instead, here are the highlights.
Trésind Studio, Season 4: Highlights
Overall Season Four is decidedly more international in outlook honed through a contemporary Indian flare. Trésind Studio is not going to abandon their strong suit but the courses signal that the kitchen will not be pigeon-holed either. There are signs of innovation with the doritos dynamite, a nacho interpretation shaped like a butterfly made with homemade cheese, signature crunch and a lift of acidity. My inner teenage fast-food addict is triggered and satiated.
The masala truffle poppadom is a stronger return to form and the first standout dish of the night only two courses in. A crisp poppadom disc topped with a gentle shower of morel mushrooms, truffle, crispy onions and cheese. This poppadom is surprisingly subtle then spice rolls forward. The dish signals that the Trésind Studio team’s deft hands can play both bold and with finesse. The curry leaf Genovese pizza will please most as a pillowy mini-pizza repurposing a basil pesto with fresh curry leaves.
Food Truck: Second Act
Trésind Studio patrons know the menu is partitioned into four acts as you transition from starters into larger portions, mains and, finally, dessert. The lamb birria taco offers another standout dish and one of my favourites of the night. A meaty, gutsy mouthful of slow-cooked lamb with a bright kosha mangsho sauce topped with micro-herbs on a flaky, buttery paratha-like ‘taco’ disc.
I do not know if this is truly a taco, but I know I don’t care and I debate, greedily, whether to order a second. The team follow this up with a chicken tikka karaage and beef short rib vindaloo bao.
Food Truck: Third Act
Eight courses later we arrive, finally, at the mains. Trésind Studio’s tasting menu is an endurance test; more marathon than a sprint. The Third Act is, by far, the most consistent. A silky curry prawn ramen with bean shoots, luxuriously-rich coconut milk spiked with a crimson spicy oil sets the tone. This is comfort food that makes you want to curl up under a blanket after a long WFH day. A broth so rich and fragrant I seriously consider dabbing some behind my ears and see if Mrs EatGoSee noticed when I get home. Both my dining partner and I lift our heads, lock eyes and nod appreciatively. This is a standout dish and one would eat this daily if given the chance.
A butter chicken with bread arrives shortly after continuing the theme of comfort food. The tomato-rich, rust sauce is the perfect muse in which to drag these flaky, buttery paratha-like bread. There is a gentle smokiness that warms the bowl before the spiciness rolls forward. There will be 100s of butter chicken dishes around Dubai. Trésind Studio’s version leans in once again with finesse.
Food Truck, Act Four: Desserts
If I could make one suggestion, it would be to move an earlier banana bread pancake with a banana hazelnut cream topped with balsamic pearls as the first pre-dessert. Banana bread was a lockdown staple for many and finds its way to the menu but perhaps a touch too early.
The standout desserts (out of the four) are the PB&J and the coffee stone. A Midas-worthy morsel topped with a thin, gold chocolate disc pierced to reveal the peanut butter and jelly. It is beautiful and sparks nostalgia of PBJ sandwiches.
The coffee stone is a quaint, playful final act of kindness from the kitchen. A reusable coffee cup is filled with coffee beans nesting a chocolate pebble filled with coffee. You chomp the whole pebble in one bite releasing a surge of chocolate soothed by the chocolate that melts in your mouth.
Trésind Studio, Season 4: Cocktail Pairing
I am encouraged by the team’s foray into cocktail pairing. Trésind Studio does not offer wine pairing which struck me as a gap in its patron offering. Sherine John is one of Dubai’s best mixologists in my view so harnessing his skills with a cocktail pairing makes sense. Gaa played with both a wine and cocktail pairing during my visit last year.
The four cocktail options included two standouts. The basil spritzer blends prosecco with gin, Aperol, basil, elderflower and lemon juice. This is a summery, light aperitif that plays well with the curry leaf Genovese pizza in particular. The elder bourbon cocktail is a tamarind-infused Jim Beam with nutmeg and bitters. The other options include a Hindi sour with elderflower, whiskey and cucumber and, lastly, a mudslide for those of us that want to remember what the late 90s tasted like.
Trésind Studio, Season 4: Would I Return?
I would return to this Season Four partly because the menu is rolling and evolving. Chef Himanshu Saini kindly talked us through the evolution of the menu. They are trialling new dishes almost daily. Season Four is a living thing. The lean towards more casual dining is smart. It is far more comfortable to eat 15 courses this way. The occasion of being outside and eating in good restaurants needs little more.
Should You Come To Trésind Studio, Season 4?
Leaving your house to come to any restaurant is a personal choice for many these days. If you are anxious about going out to eat, but you want to go to one place, Season Four is a strong option. I enjoyed Season Four and, as mentioned, I would return. Diners who enjoy modern dining, Indian food, enjoy concept dining and cocktail pairing should consider coming. It is suitable for solo diners, couples and small groups (subject to COVID19 dining restriction numbers). Regular Trésind Studio patrons may not fully embrace the direction towards street food. My view is this moniker is slightly overplayed and risks pedestrianizing a very capable menu. There is less pizazz, less flair, less drama this Season compared to its ancestors. Gone is the dry ice and herbaceous-fragrant vase from the start. There is not a lights-off moment with Frank Sinatra crooning over the dessert course like last Season. These fringe elements did not define Trésind Studio but it did add to a sense of occasion.