Chingon which in Mexican slang roughly translates as “awesome, cool or very good” is exactly what this new, aptly-named restaurant at the Grand Millennium Business Bay sets out to achieve. FACT’s David Tapley takes a seat to discover its culinary treats…
Situated on the rooftop of the five-star property, this Mexican bar and eatery offers a number of surprises. Hidden behind wooden doors lies one of the most captivating venues in the city. The design is vaguely tribal with gold mounted skulls, ceilings strung with hanging ropes and illuminated runes engraved into the walls. Accompanied by a rhythmic soundtrack (we found ourselves using Shazam on more than one occasion during the evening) and a roof that fully retracts to reveal the night sky, we can’t help but feel as though we’ve ventured into the ruins of the Mayan Pyramids at Chichen Itza.
It’s all very atmospheric which certainly adds to the appeal of the space and the high ceilings and meticulous attention to detail make Chingon immediately likable. Broken down into lounge and restaurant, Chingon has been purpose built to accommodate those who are after a more causal experience, think mixed-drinks and tacos served at the flame-licked bar (that’s right, there are flames literally rising from the shelves) or head into the dining room for a more refined experience.
There’s also a spacious VIP area located high above the restaurant floor. In keeping with the modern Mexican theme the dishes at Chingon follow traditional recipes that explore the full breadth of Mexico, the result is an appealing menu created by Chef Rene Millan in which many of the dishes are likely to be found in a typical Mexican household. This place goes beyond nachos, burritos or fajitas.
We begin with the Sikil P’ak (AED45) a starter to share that consists of pumpkin seed hummus with chilli oil. The thicker than expected paste is undeniably bold in flavour but perhaps a touch too salty for our liking but works well upon the fragile lotus chips (AED25) dusted in Chingon spices and doused in lime. The raw bar offers ceviche, tiradito, crude and tartare but it’s the locally sourced Dibba Bay Oysters (AED20 each) that catch our attention. The oysters are beautifully fresh and having been sourced from the Middle East’s first farm to grow gourmet oysters for the home market, ensure an unprecedented sea to table experience in the process. The molluscs are given an appealing Mexican twist thanks to accompaniments of habanero pico de gallo, lime and hot sauce and Chingon should be applauded for championing locally sourced produce.
A trio scallop toastadas (AED85) continue to introduce us to pronounced flavours thanks to a combination of cashew salsa, avocado crema and blood orange caviar which complement both the delicate profile of the Hokkaido scallops and the crisp texture of the thin tostada. The specially curated taco menu is where our meal really hits its stride and it is at this point that we find ourselves fully enamoured with the charms of Chingon. Fillings include chicken, tofu, duck, or if you’re feeling particularly boujee then the El Dorado (AED115) should be your taco of choice. A black tortilla pressed with 24k gold, A9 Wagyu, avocado crema and black truffle. The combination of premium ingredients is certainly noticeable and while the dish panders to Dubai’s love of edible gold and all things Instagrammable, it’s actually a rather impressive concoction.
Each course surpasses its predecessor until we reach the pinnacle of the meal which in this instance transpires to be the miso lamb shank (AED165), an extraordinary combination of sweet and spicy that derives from a mix of miso, hoisin mole, crispy garlic and bean puree. The meat is undeniably tender and literally slides off the bone and once slathered in the sauce, it’s near-impossible to put our knife and fork down until the bowl has literally been licked clean
Presentation comes into play with the desserts and while texturally the cheesecake wasn’t for us, the Mictlān (AED45) makes for a remarkable way to end the Chingon dining experience. Named after the Aztec underworld, this particular dessert is a dark chlorate mousse encased in a golden chocolate skull. The mousse itself is light and not overly rich but the textures that accompany the mousse offer little other than visual appeal. Lime sponge, a chocolate soil and gold blueberries do little other than detract from the skulls-shaped confectionary which is excellent. For us, Chingon leads the pack of Dubai’s Mexican restaurants due to a combination of flavoursome dishes that are unafraid to be bold, striking decor and a nightlife vibe that leaves us wanting more. Perfect for a date night, an evening on the town or a dinner overlooking the Burj – Chingon seemingly has it all! ✤