A must-visit for fine dining! This Dubai-based Indian restaurant is inspired by ‘raw beauty of home cooking’, says Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna

Financial Express Online tried several dishes at Kinara, including Dahi ke Kebab, which is a unique take on the typical Indian dish, and the Shakarkandi ki Chaat.

The restaurant was launched in October 2019, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world.

Kinara by Vikas Khanna: In the 5-star JA Lake View Hotel of Dubai sits Kinara by Vikas Khanna. Every bit as luxurious as Dubai itself, the restaurant embodies elegance that surrounds the visitor as soon as they enter. The soothing light and the aroma of Indian spices set the ambience, raising the expectations for the standards that would already be anticipated in a restaurant of the Michelin-Star Chef. Going further in, one walks along a passage while getting a view into the live kitchen, and the passage then expands into a hall where the tables and the typical fine dining decor are accompanied by huge jars filled with spices that typically go into Indian food.

“Simply put, the concept of Kinara is Indian regional cuisine in the dining room that feels like home. Kinara is a homage to the kitchens of India and South Asia and inspired by the raw beauty of home cooking. We aim to bring Indian hospitality and culture to guests, while offering familiar dishes in a thoughtful and modern interpretation,” said Chef Vikas Khanna in an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online. 

“Kinara is a tribute to centuries-old cooking of India in a modern setup. We want to transport guests to India in a whole new sensory way and bring the true diversity and flavors to every bite,” Chef Khanna added.

The restaurant was launched in October 2019, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world. Though the food is inspired by Indian cuisine, there is a typical touch in each dish that one would associate with Chef Vikas Khanna and it sets the dish apart from the usual Indian food. 

Chef Vikas Khanna with Ashish Kumar, Chef de Cuisine.

At Kinara, Ashish Kumar, Chef de Cuisine is at the helm of preparing the dishes. “The inspiration behind the preparation of the dishes is the practice of reflecting the roots of our great Indian cuisine, whilst also keeping the simplicity and elegance of each dish intact. What is delivered on the plate is not only artistically beautiful, but also satiating to all the senses- sight, sound, smell, touch. The intent behind the plating of the dishes is to make everything look like edible art, without crowding the plates, to echo our goals of simplicity and elegance. We are also focused on incorporating as many local ingredients as possible,” he told FE Online. 

JA Lake View Hotel has been playing host to many cricket teams during the pandemic, which led to part of the hotel being involved in the bio-bubble. On numerous occasions, Kinara has also been included in the bio-bubble to serve the cricketers. Amidst this, while Chef Ashish was in Kinara, Chef Vikas was elsewhere, probably the US. So what was it like in terms of coordination? Well, while Kinara’s trials began years ago, Chef Ashish gave us an example of their seasonal restaurant Ellora, which is located in the neighbouring JA Beach Hotel and was launched last year.

“The process of finalising dishes for our seasonal restaurant Ellora was conducted through video calls and was surprisingly very successful overall. I firmly believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way, and even the global pandemic or significant distance didn’t hinder our inventiveness and brainstorming. This is the spirit of Kinara. Additionally, Chef Vikas Khanna is always just a call away for any ideation, aid, support, and assistance. With the Kinara menu, we spent months finalising and perfecting dishes. Every detail has gone through a process before it reaches the plate, and this is what we are most proud of,” Chef Ashish said.

Financial Express Online tried several dishes at Kinara, including Dahi ke Kebab, which is a unique take on the typical Indian dish, and the Shakarkandi ki Chaat. 

Chef Ashish said, “At Kinara, we don’t have ‘signature dishes’ as such, as we believe it might limit our creativity and imagination. Change and creativity should be constant and are an important part of our ethos. We do have some dishes that are enduringly popular with our guests though, like Dahi ke kebab, which was featured in the Top 50 dishes of Dubai in 2021 by Time Out magazine. One of our most appreciated cocktails is Samundar, a gin-based cocktail, where the name expresses a connection with the shore or Kinara. This beautiful turquoise drink is served in conch shell shaped glass, to evoke the feeling of the shore.”

However, so far there is only one Kinara restaurant in the world. We asked Chef Vikas about this. “Throughout my career, I’ve always tried to create individual concepts from restaurants, to books, to movies. I try to instill every concept and project with its own uniqueness and individuality. But I truly feel that Kinara Cuisine must reach a wider audience. This place is an exceptional combination of food, service, ambiance, and spirit. It has a magical feeling that I believe would translate,” he said.

A key highlight at the restaurant is the live kitchen.

A key highlight at the restaurant is the live kitchen, which can, for the most part, be seen from the seating area. Most restaurants serving Indian cuisine do not usually feature a live kitchen, a concept that is more common for Italian or Continental cuisines. However, while making food in itself is an art, making Indian dishes is a complex task due to the multitude of layers it has. A live kitchen showcasing the effort that goes into making Indian dishes, therefore, personally felt like a window to wonder and a sort of interactive experience. 

“Most of my kitchens have been open kitchens. It’s engaging, refreshing and adds value to the diners while providing a window into the techniques and passion of our team. Personally, I feel it gives a face to the skill,” Chef Vikas Khanna explained. 

Overall, the restaurant lives up to the expectations and the ambience and the food can combine for a really good time and experience for the visitors in this Dubai restaurant. It can be a suitable option for vegetarians, who might otherwise find it difficult to find places with many options to eat out in Dubai, since a lot of cuisines, at their core, do not necessarily accommodate vegetarian diets.

Kinara by Vikas Khanna can very easily be in the list of must-visits for fine dining while in the Emirati city of Dubai.

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