Spiceklub - A Klub For All Veggie Lovers
Molecular gastronomy has really exploded in the world of Indian cuisine in recent years, and several of the latest Indian concept restaurants in Dubai have it as a key component of their cooking and presentation. Spiceklub, the all-vegetarian Mumbai import that opened up in Mankhool last month alongside sister restaurant Quattro, is no exception to this trend. Does it manage to put a new spin on Indian cuisine? Or are its tricks a bit tired on Dubai’s culinary stage?
Spiceklub’s interiors are inspired by the industrial look preferred by many contemporary restaurants, with slate gray walls and copper pipes along the ceiling. However, the chandeliers made of bicycle wheels, rainbow-hued wall decorations and brightly colored cushions add a quirky touch that gives Spiceklub its own unique identity.
We are presented with an assortment of chutneys and pickles shortly after being seated but, instead of the usual run-of-the-mill pappadum, we have Roomali Cheese Papad, a roomali roti (a soft, paper thin flatbread) that has been baked until it has a crispy texture, then topped with cheese, onions and green chili. It’s not the fanciest trick in Spiceklub’s repertoire, but it’s a good way to deviate from the norm.
An innovative take on mango lassi comes in the form of Mango On The Rocks, frozen mango pulp with a creamy mango nectar poured over it, served in a tilted wine glass. The Ice Sphere is, as the name implies, a big ball of ice sitting in the middle of a glass. A mixture of orange and lychee juice is released from inside it as the waiter cracks the ice at the table and, after having some seltzer water poured on top, results in a refreshing drink.
Our appetizers are, for the most part, reinventions of typical Mumbai street food. We begin with a little science experiment. Pani Puri is a DIY Indian snack: you spoon some filling (a sprout mixture in this case) into hollow gram dumpling shells and add in sweet and tangy sauces to suit your taste. At Spiceklub, you have a syringe full of sweet tamarind chutney and a bowl of chilled test tubes containing tangy and spicy coriander sauce so you can build your own appetizer while unleashing your inner mad scientist.
We follow this up with Pav Bhaji Fondue. Pav, a buttered Indian bread roll, is cut up into little croutons, while the bhaji, a thick vegetable curry, is mixed with melted cheese and served in a fondue pot. I’d recommend keeping this to one side as you’ll find yourself snacking on it quite a bit. Papdi chaat is another well-known Indian snack that’s defined by its blend of contrasting flavors and textures. In Spiceklub’s version, little papdi rounds (fried dough wafers) are topped with a dollop of yogurt, a drizzle of tamarind chutney and some coriander foam, all atop a bed of sev (crisp chickpea noodles). Each round is meant to be eaten in one bite to enjoy the full experience.
The final appetizer is Paneer Tikka topped with coriander foam. It tastes good, but lacks the flair of the other dishes. The same can be said for the main courses, which include Paneer Makhani, vegetable biryani and an assortment of breads. They’re all very well prepared, and the biryani is especially commendable for its subtle use of spice. The breads are served in big bronze scoops, used in traditional Indian groceries to measure out flour and rice, which is a nice touch.
Dessert is another popular playground for molecular gastronomy, and Spiceklub knows the game well. A chocolate flower pot with little chocolate trowels on a bed of pistachio soil is broken open to reveal a gooey chocolate ganache, a piece of ras malai (milk dumpling) and saffron mousse. It’s playful, pretty and very indulgent. I’m not sure how well the chocolate and saffron work together, though. Lastly, we have paan mousse. Paan, is a popular after-meal mouth freshener that’s reimagined as spheres of chilled mousse. Pop one in your mouth for an unusual, refreshing and delightful meal ender.
Spiceklub manages to put its own spin on traditional Indian comfort food that’s as fun to eat as it is to look at, and we’ve tried only a small sampling of its extensive menu. I’m especially curious to see if all the main courses are standard fare or if there are some more creative variations there too. The location, especially in terms of parking, isn’t so great, and the small space might work against it on the weekends. But with its solid flavors and cool ambiance, Spiceklub is definitely a hidden gem for veggie lovers!
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: X
Pros: Very creative appetizers, good flavors, nice decor
Cons: Location isn’t too great, main courses aren’t as creative
Price: $$ (50 - 200 AED)
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