Expect island vibes at this new beachfront hotspot.
Radiating the soul, warmth and richness of the Antillean islands, Tamoka is a restaurant opening that has been met with a lot of fanfare. Taking over the beachfront space previously occupied by Palm Grill at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai JBR, this Caribbean inspired restaurant encourages diners to embrace barefoot luxury on the sands of JBR.
The island vibes begin from the moment we arrive at the valet, where we’re loaded into electric buggies that whizz us through the perfectly manicured resort grounds with carnival music blaring. Arriving at Tamoka, we catch a glimpse of the glistening ocean before being ushered into a boho-chic space of fluttering curtains, shady parasols, sunken lounges and outdoor firepits. It’s alluring, inviting and altogether relaxing – making us want to kick off our shoes and rush towards the sea.
Instead, we opt for a pre-dinner sundowner at Caña, a palapa-style beach bar that boasts the advantage of being the only licensed bar on the JBR strip. Here we sip on innovative cocktails while being serenaded by a live saxophonist as the sun slopes behind the horizon. It’s a magical start to what transpires to be a near-perfect meal.
With the arrival of nightfall, Tamoka becomes a hive of activity as beach-goers look for a place to satiate their hunger after a long day of tanning and swimming. With its pretty illuminations, the restaurant enlivens like a nocturnal creature rising from a deep slumber, ready to embrace the evening ahead.
Seated on the pretty terrace, we’re enamoured by the view, particularly the light show dancing across the facade of the world’s tallest observation wheel, Ain Dubai. While service is proficient and friendly, it’s clear that it’s a busy evening, and at times we’re left floundering for attention. Yet this doesn’t detract too much from our overall experience, where a menu that traverses through Latin America and the Caribbean coasts with a variety of native flavours and tropical libations awaits.
Chef de Cuisine Cesar Bartolini is at the kitchen’s helm with his contemporary take on coastal and Latin-inspired cuisine that embraces fresh and indigenous ingredients. With ceviche from the Crudo bar and a wood-fire grill that imparts beguiling smokey flavours, the Tamoka menu offers much appeal. We begin with Asado De Tira (AED 85), a signature dish presenting sticky short ribs with tamarind and chayote. The meat appears to be braised and fried, resulting in a remarkable texture that’s crisp on the outside, beautifully tender within and imbued with a seductive sweetness. Then, from the raw bar, we gleefully devour the Salmon Ceviche (AED 55), a bold combination of pink grapefruit, avocado and coriander that is as fresh as it is zesty.
While Tamoka’s main course selection offers a variety of dishes from the Parilla grill and sharing mains from ‘the earth oven’, we’re drawn to the Langostinos (AED 135). Tender Patagonian prawns that are as plump as they are delicious, paired with creamy coconut rice and a spicy Peruvian huancaina sauce, offering just the right amount of heat.
End your meal on a sweet note, choosing from delightful options such as the Torta De Ron (AED 40). A Caribbean spiced rum cake served with caramelised banana or the Tarta De Ricotta Y Chocolate (AED 40), a bitter chocolate tart served with plenty of ice cream.
Inspired by the Antillean islands, Tulum, San José and Cartagena, Tamoka presents a culinary journey ideal for a light lunch, sundowners or late-night fiestas under the stars. Add it to your alfresco dining bucket list while the winter weather is still with us.
GO: Visit www.tamokadubai.com for reservations or more information.