Introduce your mind, body & soul to the magical powers of a delicious plant-forward menu at Sesame Restaurant. Shall we say then … Open Sesame?
The Concept: ’Plant-forward’ – the word initially conjured up extremities in my mind, an inclination towards vegan or may be strict vegetarian menu? I was quite honestly taken aback spotting lamb meatballs, chicken and seabass on the menu. Welcome to the nutrient dense world of Sesame Restaurant which serves a plant-forward menu. Simply put, it means a menu that focuses on using more whole-grains, fruits, vegetables along with pulses and along with its meat, poultry and fish. Team FoodeMag met up with Irina Sharma and Neha Jamani, the cofounders of the restaurant and a delicious breakfast menu unfurled before us. Irina is a health and wellness advocate and a follower of the VIVAMAYR cult that believes in the philosophy ‘you are what you digest’, not ‘we are what we eat’. Neha on the other hand, is a Natural Chef trained at the Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, Berkeley, and has been involved with ‘Food As Medicine’ conferences, a training program teaching health professionals on how to integrate nutrition into their clinical practices as well as into their own personal lives. Thankfully, all the above prelude doesn’t translate into mere difficult terms that only a select audience will appreciate. In fact, the restaurant which is located in the Sunset Mall on Jumeirah Road has been envisaged as an engaging community space where healthy food that tastes delicious can connect to the conscious Dubai diner who’s also looking for his/her money worth of a wholesome meal in a beautiful yet casual venue.
The Food: Sesame boasts of a ‘Nourishing Menu’ and by that they mean going an extra mile in every aspect of stirring up a dish – from soaking the grains, nuts and beans longer for easier digestion to making homemade sauces, dressings, making and mixing their own spice blends. Ingredients used are seasonal, organic and sourced locally wherever possible and all dietary preferences and requirements of the guests are catered to. While I opted for a Seaweed and Lotus Salad from the Starters section, my companions ordered a Carrot Banana Pancake made with buckwheat, drizzled generously with date and pomegranate syrup and nut butter; and a Potato Rösti with Poached Egg and Avocado – both from the Breakfast menu. Portion sizes are generous and the flavours are enhanced by a variety of drizzles or servings of home made sauces – for example, the homemade sesame dressing in my salad lent an extra flavour and strength to the interesting combination of the mixed seaweed. There are plans to have a daily changing menu to incorporate more seasonality. Don’t miss the Falafel Waffles (below), a signature from the Mains (I overstayed my breakfast tenure and continued until lunch) - the waffles packed with flavours of fresh mint and other herbs and a homemade Harissa Mayo adding to the punch.
Falafel Waffles from the Breakfast menu
Salmon & Greens with pea puree, kale and lemon from Sesame’s lunch menu… contrary to what ‘plant-forward’ menu may suggest to a first timer, some interesting non-vegetarian options are also available. For example, Five-Spice Lamb or the Harissa Honey Chicken, Pomegranate Lamb Meat balls and Origami Fish etc.
Orange Polenta Cake with Saffron & Orange Blossom
Desserts: If a foodie can have an indulgent dessert without any guilt, clearly that has to be the ultimate signoff for a restaurant that claims to be serving healthy food – and thankfully, Sesame does have a few winners in the menu, although with limited options. We tasted the Orange Polenta Cake with Saffron & Orange Blossom, the honey labneh drizzle over it being a healthy alternative to traditional icing; Coconut Lime Pudding Pot, a homemade granola with cashew, coconut and lime; and flourless Chocolate Cake made with almonds, 70% dark chocolate and homemade coconut crème.
Signing off: Create – Nourish – Share… that’s the tagline of Sesame Restaurant and keeping true to this, are the currently three different types of activities that are part of the restaurant’s plans to evolve into a space that connects a like-minded community. Monthly plant-forward cooking classes held in-house by Chef Neha; retreats as Sesame Restaurant and Hands in Hope Energy Healing Center in Dubai joins hands in a unique partnership to bring more awareness and education towards holistic health under the hashtag #nourishnheal; and finally the monthly ‘Dinner with Doctor’ series. In fact, I had been part of all the cooking classes so far (two held as of yet) and feel extremely empowered. We also highly recommend the Sesame Restaurant’s monthly ‘Dinner with Doctor Series’ where each month, a renowned medical guru is invited to dine at Sesame, interact with guests and engage them on a wide range of health and nutrition topics. The dinner series was inaugurated by Dr Lu, a well known Chinese Medicine Practitioner, and in the second event held very recently, diners had an opportunity to meet Dr Harald Stossier, founder and Medical Director of VIVAMAYR centre in Austria. Dr Stossier shared his knowledge of alkalising one’s diet by balancing the acidity and alkalinity in the body in order to boost energy and ward off illnesses. Do stay tuned to FoodeMag’s instastory updates and Instagram feed to know all that’s happening at Sesame Restaurant.
[A bit on Sesame Restaurant: Founded by Therapeutic Chef Neha Jamani and Irina Sharma, both fans of healthy living lifestyle, the restaurant intends to inspire Dubai’s healthy oriented foodie community. The ‘world food‘ menu was developed along with Food Development Consultant – Chef Gohei Kishi. Sesame is Chef Gohei’s first global collaboration bringing his Michelin-star experience to Dubai’s homegrown Sesame Restaurant.]