"Let the food speak for itself." That is the premise behind Lowe, the new dining concept that will anchor Dubai's Koa community when it opens next month.
From the outset, Mohammed bin Zaal, the project's founder, wanted to do something different at Koa, a residential development taking shape next to Dubai's Al Barari. At the heart of the community is Canvas, a mixed-used residential development consisting of 70 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. These will be complemented by a co-working space targeting Dubai's creative community, a multipurpose amphitheatre, screening rooms, photography studios, as well as a gourmet market, fitness facilities, three swimming pools and spa treatment rooms. There is much talk about "community, collaboration, creativity and social engagement".
It makes sense, then, that the concept for the development's new dining venue, which has just been unveiled, would follow this lead. Lowe was developed in partnership with young, emerging New Zealand- and Australia-based chefs Jesse Blake and Kate Christou, and is built around the idea of a central wood fire.
Lowe is the antithesis of the big international brands that dominate Dubai's dining scene, says bin Zaal, who is a big proponent of "pushing the local movement forward". Lowe is about "respecting the produce and flavours of the local area and providing a dining experience that brings people together", he says. "We don't want to overcomplicate it. This is exactly how we have approached Koa Canvas."
Local ingredients will play a major role in shaping the menu, Christou explains. “The abundance of fresh local seafood has had a huge influence on our menu. We’ll be spending a lot of time at the fish market. We’ll be using local bream, kingfish, Omani prawns, octopus and clams, and we will always be looking out for new ingredients to add to our repertoire. We will also be growing our own food in our kitchen garden. The variety of spices and grains has shaped our menu, and whilst we aren’t cooking Middle Eastern food, there will definitely be hints of Arabic flavours, and we’ll be using traditional techniques in some of the dishes.”
Christou cites the raw sea bream with yuzukosho and sweet ginger, and beef tartare with red harissa and radishes as some of her favourite dishes on the menu, while admitting that the wood-roasted lamb shoulder has gone down a treat at tastings. “Cooking with fire is at the heart of what we will be doing at Lowe, so there are a lot of smokey, earthy flavours in our food. But rather than there being one quintessential flavour, we’d describe the food at Lowe as a melting pot, with influences coming from far and wide,” she tells me.
“It is based heavily around char and burn, and balanced with the freshness of acidity,” Blake adds. “We will be using a combination of raw fire and charcoal cooking techniques, paired with light, well-sourced ingredients to cleanse the palate.”