Vegan-Friendly Fine Dining at Varq.
Updated: Jul 7, 2022
One of the Best Indian Restaurants in Dubai.
Since moving from London and living in Dubai, I’ve managed to develop my tastebuds and push my foodie comfort zone by trying out a variety of newer flavours and diverse cultural dishes. I was probably less adventurous before, when it came to food, and I stuck to my habitual medley of vegan dishes from bistros, gastropubs, and Mediterranean-style eateries, with the odd tofu or sushi dish from Asian-fusion restaurants. In time, Indian cuisine is certainly something I’ve started to grow very fond of. Although I have been to a few note-worthy Indian restaurants, there is certainly something to be said about the handful I have tried since living in Dubai. One special Indian restaurant that I truly recommend is Varq, which recently opened in 2022 at Taj Palm Exotica Dubai. It's a nod to the original Varq at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi – a pioneer in modern Indian cuisine, known from moving away from the bowls of brown or yellow curry to exquisite pre-plated traditional-meets-modern dishes.
The name itself is the Sanskrit word for gold or silver leaves. Fittingly, gold and silver designed leaves are used to decorate many of the gourmet platters. The vegan dishes are a force to be reckoned with; the flavours, ingredients and aromas are tantalising. According to the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), India produces 70 per cent of the world's spices, which is reflected in Varq's menu, which features 82 spices, I’m told! You certainly taste a medley of specially selected spices with each bite you take from the 18 carefully crafted vegan options. Admittedly, some of these dishes are vegetarian on the menu, but Varq’s sous chef Pankaj Deshwal and the executive sous chef Anoop Brelvi were kind enough to accommodate my vegan palette. We even got to meet them which I found was very hospitable.
Varq's manager, Rishabh Kulshreshtha was incredibly accommodating. I was unsure what to try and he gladly explained each dish that was vegan friendly. I was instantly impressed with the amuse-bouche – smooth and spicy avocado on a crunchy corn tortilla wrap, with a blend of mouth-watering spices. I loved the Palak Patta Chaat, crispy spinach leaves and tangy spinach dumplings with date sauce, adored with beaten silver. Subz Ganderi Kebab is also not to be missed. It’s a combination of crumbed broccoli, garlic, and chives on a sweet sugarcane stick. If you enjoy dal, you should try Varqui Dal (black dal simmered overnight and enriched with chef’s special recipe), Dal Tadka Massaledar, which is yellow lentils cooked with cumin seeds. For dessert, freshly made lychee, raspberry and peach sorbet beautifully ended the night.
This fine dining experience has exceptional service, and you can feel that vibe from the friendly and helpful staff. Rishabh, the manager, also curated the entire outlet's drink menus. The grape list boasts more than 100 labels to complement the variety of signature dishes and about five per cent of that inventory includes sustainable brands.
If you are going with non-vegans, there’s so much to try. I was told the Varqui Crab, a culinary medley of crab meat, tandoori shrimp, crispy filo, and gold leaf, is a winner. And if you are feeling extravagant, the 10-course tasting menu has a variety of delicious starters, mains, and desserts. Honestly, this restaurant had some of the best Indian food we have ever tasted, and this is certainly on the list for recommended places to go to when my friends from out of town want to try a new fine dining Indian.
As for the interior, it combines chic modern and contemporary aesthetics with artistic subtle gold touches – like the tea leaf-inspired chandelier –wooden fixtures and marble interiors, mimicking the richness of Indian heritage. There are also exclusive private dining rooms, ideal for intimate gatherings, family celebrations, or corporate events. And during the winter season, they open the spacious terrace, which is one of the best spots to see the most breath-taking sunset view on the Palm Jumeirah.