Restaurant Review

FACT Review: modernity meets tradition at MayaBay Dubai

Bridging the gap between dining and nightlife, MayaBay is arguably Dubai’s latest culinary hotspot. 

Jumeirah Al Naseem’s picturesque Turtle Lagoon is fast becoming a dining destination to rival DIFC. The pretty enclave with its up close and personal Burj Al Arab views is home to several upmarket concepts, including new luxe Monaco export MayaBay.

Wrapping alluringly around the turtle-filled waters of Naseem’s shallow lagoon, MayaBay Dubai feels destined for its Dubai debut, taking over the space formally occupied by Katsuya by Starck. An extensive refurbishment has completely transformed the venue, which is illuminated in hues of amorous red and offers an infectious draw before we’ve even crossed the threshold.

MayaBay Dubai review

Once inside, a veritable pleasure palace awaits, for MayaBay Dubai boasts a beautiful fit-out featuring traditional Japanese kokeshi dolls, crystal light fittings, intricately carved wooden panels and Asian-inspired decor. Sinking into plush red furnishings in the main dining room, we’re immediately impressed by the vibe of the two-storey bar, where sake barrels line the walls and a DJ and live percussionist perform from a podium elevated above the spacious dining room.

With an energetic vibe coursing through diners and the attentive front-of-house team, MayaBay feels Zuma-esque in its positioning as a dining destination with a distinct nightlife twist. We’re presented with the menu, which resembles a book of almost Biblical proportions. But with over fifty pages covering sushis, dim sum, salads, robata, curries, specialities and desserts on offer, placing an order at MayaBay is a daunting prospect. Thankfully, friendly waiters are on hand to ensure we’re able to make the most out of the culinary journey.

MayaBay Dubai review

We begin with the Yam Pad Tap Tiem (AED 120), a fresh duck salad mixed table side to combine the sweet notes from the grapes, apple and plum dressing that adequately balance with the gamey flavour of the shredded duck. Working through the extensive menu headed by Chef Shane Macneill, we were suitably impressed by the Yellowtail Sashimi (AED 85), a delicately sliced yellowtail dressed in Japanese wasabi and citrus vinaigrette and topped with toasted sesame oil and diced onions. However, the Hotate Roll (AED 70), generously doused in truffle and chilli oil, left a lasting impression. 

With specialities rooted in traditional Asian cuisine, the beauty of dining at MayaBay comes from the wealth of cuisines on offer, as we gleefully move from seafood-stuffed maki rolls to piping hot Chinese Xiaolongbao (AED 45) and a taste of Thailand with the Chicken Green Curry (AED 125). The popular dish from central Thailand is an aromatic choice that perfectly balances sweetness and spice. 

Despite being a firm fixture on Pan-Asian menus throughout Dubai, the signature Black Cod with Miso and Honey (AED 185) is a beautiful rendition of one of the city’s most desirable dishes. Steeped in sweet miso sauce and cooked over smoking embers, the resulting fish is slightly smokey, beautifully buttery and flakes away at the mere touch of a fork.

MayaBay Dubai review

Desserts include everything from candyfloss to MayaMoki Japanese mochis in various customised flavours. Whilst we admittedly found the melting Maya Sphère (AED 65) to rely more on tableside theatrics over substance, the Pandan Milk Cake (AED 65) was incredible. Presenting a light and airy sponge soaked in the milk, cream and pandan leaves – the infusion is nothing short of impressive. Topped with caramelised nuts for texture, it is a sweet finale to a memorable meal.

With a sophisticated dining setting, an infectious vibe and an expansive menu of Asian favourites, MayaBay Dubai is a desirable all-in-one destination for Dubai’s glitterati. Late on a Wednesday evening when we visit, the newly launched venue is nearing capacity and abuzz with activity both inside the open kitchen, where the culinary team are pleating gyoza and pulling noodles, and out on the restaurant floor. Bridging the gap between dining and nightlife, our first impressions of MayaBay Dubai indicate that it is destined for success. After all, the restaurant does come from Orange Hospitality, the team behind the FACT award-winning Alici, Il Borro Tuscan Bistro and the soon-to-open Josette.

GO: Visit www.mayabayrestaurant.com/dubai or call 04 275 2500 for reservations or more information.

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As the editor-in-chief for one of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publications, David Tapley is a self-proclaimed Hip-Hop aficionado, championing all things, food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the UAE and KSA. This sneakerhead may also be Kanye West's biggest fan.

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