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Restaurant review: Punjab Grill at The Oberoi Dubai

Words by Rob Chilton

Dishes at the new Indian restaurant are works of art

When chef Sandeep Ail departed the Abu Dhabi outpost of Punjab Grill to set up its sister restaurant at The Oberoi in Dubai’s Business Bay, he was a little concerned. “I knew there were so many fine-dining Indian restaurants in Dubai and I thought, how do we stand out?” he explains to EDGAR. His answer was to insist that the presentation of each dish be utterly beautiful.

Chef Sandeep Ail

Duck breast vindaloo

Ingredients at this superb restaurant are smeared, drizzled, scattered and dotted on each plate to create culinary pictures that force diners to pause from picking up their cutlery and stare agog at the artistry on the plate. But to be clear, that doesn’t mean the food is pretentious. After his shift, the friendly and tattooed Ail stopped by EDGAR’s table wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “I’m only here for the food,” suggesting he doesn’t take his job, or himself, too seriously.

The highlights were many: Dabur black cod with coconut sauce, broccoli and mushroom with sweet potato, palak patta chaat, Dakshin chicken and a surprising trio of oysters from Dibba – one raw, one baked, one fried – dressed in Indian spices. Each plate was a cleverly crafted concoction of colour, texture as well as flavour. The duck breast vindaloo, in particular, that came with a sour Goan chilli and vinegar jus, was excellent Indian food that blended tradition with innovation.

Fresh, baked, fried Dibba Bay oysters

Ail says, “Inspired by Portuguese sailors’ preserved dish of meat, garlic and vinegar, vindaloo was adapted by Goan households and restaurants as a fiery dish of meat with hot and sour sauce. At Punjab Grill, we have adapted this popular Goan delicacy by using roasted French duck breast, with potatoes and garlic roasted in duck fat, and pairing it with the vindaloo sauce.”

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