The Michelin Guide unveiled its first list of winners in Dubai on Tuesday, with 11 restaurants receiving at least one coveted star. Of these, Tresind Studio, led by chef Himanshu Saini, was the only Indian restaurant to take one home.
Saini began his journey with Tresind when it first burst onto the Dubai food scene by bringing liquid nitrogen to Indian cuisine in 2014.
Since then, he has gone from strength to strength. Not only has he been a noteworthy presence at various food festivals around the UAE, but Saini also often collaborates on one-off, highly experimental four-hands meals with some of the best chefs in the world, including Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi and Mexico's Jorge Vallejo.
Click through the gallery above to see the 11 Michelin-starred restaurants in Dubai.
Now, Saini can consider himself to be up there with the best.
Tresind Studio, which used to be tucked in the corner of the main Tresind restaurant at voco hotel, recently moved to Nakheel Mall on the Palm Jumeirah.
It serves a set tasting menu, which changes every four months: think wood apple pani puri, ghee roast crab with burnt cinnamon and curry leaf tempura and morel pulao with Assam tea dashi.
“Tresind Studio offers a single tasting menu. Through the experience, we serve comfort food to guests, yet ensure every person is leaving with a different impression and a changed perception about Indian cuisine,” Saini tells The National soon after taking to the stage to collect the award.
"The end game is to show the world that Indian food can also be gourmet.
“With our approach, I want to make people understand that Indian food is more than a takeaway curry, naan or biryani.”
It is an exciting menu, which serves a payasam pudding made with pink peppercorns and served with tomato rasam; or buttermilk curry ice cream with padron peppers and pickled chutney.
“There are many recipes, many stories, many cultural interpretations that are not explored enough,” the chef says.
It's a tall order, but one Saini is more than willing to continue serving up, especially in the light of his latest accolade.
“Getting a Michelin star is a great start and a proud moment, but what I'd like to do next is to reflect back on what happened today, to evolve the cuisine even further and to push for two stars next year," he says.
“Being the only Indian restaurant in Dubai with a Michelin star, the expectations will be huge, but I want to surpass those.”
Saini has some experience in the world of gourmet cuisine, having worked with Manish Mehrotra, the award-winning chef behind Indian Accent in New Delhi and New York.
On top of this, Saini says he comes from an “agricultural family”, which has made him inclined towards using locally sourced ingredients where possible.
“We have the same menu for four months only. So while I cannot recommend a particular dish that residents or gastro-tourists must order, I would urge all our patrons to explore Papadom, our botanical bar that works hand in hand with the kitchen," he says.
"All the scraps wasted in the kitchen are utilised in a curated drinks programme.” Think beverages made with cacao and fennel cordial, popcorn and fig acid syrup, pickled papaya and pineapple tepache.
“We've cultivated a terrace garden on the rooftop, where we grow a lot of produce even in this crazy hot weather. And it's a spot where you can expect equally crazy things on the tasting menu,” says Saini.
The restaurant's description on the Michelin Guide website reads: “An immersive dining experience awaits in this elegant Indian restaurant. The multi-course tasting menu is a masterpiece of originality and precision.
"The meal ... explodes with flavour [and] intricate, sublimely executed dishes. Add in wonderfully attentive service and you have all the ingredients for an evening that will live long in the memory.”