When people think "Asian cuisine" they usually mean Chinese, Thai, Japanese or even Vietnamese food. Hardly anyone has heard of Filipino Cuisine, which is a varied mix of Chinese, Malay, with a bit of Spanish thrown in. It is hearty fare, sometimes heavy on the grease (fry ups are common fare and so is the use of pork and offal).
In Dubai, most Filipino restaurants are the small corner shop kind. Until Lamesa came to town.
Tucked in the 5th floor of Asiana Hotel is Lamesa Restaurant, a better dressed version of the Filipino restaurant and a very good way to get acquainted with this lovely country's cuisine. They serve daily dinner buffet for 89dhs (food only) or 105dhs (food and soft beverages). While it touts itself as Asian buffet, it is predominantly Filipino. It scores well on traditional dishes like deep fried pork hocks and pork belly... Both melt in your mouth gut busters. Also present was karekare, a turmeric rich peanutty stew of ox tail, tripe and vegetables served with fermented shrimp sauce and pork sisig (a rich glob of diced fatty pork, liver, and onions/chilli). All hail to uric acid goodness!
It failed to deliver on dishes from its Asian neighbors: the chicken and shrimp siew mai was dry (to my horror it came out of a plastic bag that the cook simply dumped onto the steamer trays), the pad thai felt like a weird cross between pad thai and char kway teow, the bulgogi was nearly tasteless (ironic for a Korean owned hotel) and the desserts were typical hotel fare.
Reservation is always tricky since they're always "fully booked but if you want you can come in and we'll put you on the waiting list". I was lucky to have a sympathetic Chinese staff give me a table "but you have to finish in one hour" because they had an 8pm reservation. I came in at half past six. They simply do not know how to turn tables... Either that or their typical diners stay for hours.
Unless you want to be served sugar overload Instant "iced tea" (which I personally find horrible), stay away from the iced tea. I only had it because the waiter assured me they made the tea from scratch.
There's a lot more to be desired from the servers, which I find ironic since Filipinos are usually prized for their hospitality and friendliness. Not that I found anyone surly or rude. Many of them were aloof and inattentive.
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