x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

TV host has a taste for Dubai

q&a A foodie with a self-deprecating sense of humour, Gaurav Tandon is the host of Eating Out on SET Asia.

Gaurav Tandon, the host of <i>Eating Out</i>, says that diners in Dubai are fickle.
Gaurav Tandon, the host of Eating Out, says that diners in Dubai are fickle.

A foodie with a self-deprecating sense of humour, Gaurav Tandon is the host of Eating Out on SET Asia, a programme that showcases the myriad eating choices in Dubai and tells its picky South Asian audience where to find the best eats.

The show is about great places to eat in the UAE. We cover the entire spectrum, from restaurants in five-star hotels to more affordable stand-alone eateries. People in Dubai love to eat out. Unlike other places, it's not just a weekend activity. They do it throughout the week because a lot of people live away from home. The show has three segments: the food critic segment, where we eat with a guest critic and get his take on the restaurant; the undiscovered restaurant of the week, where we showcase a new or hidden place and show you how to get there; and the chef's cooking segment, where we take you into the kitchen of your favourite restaurant and get the chef to prepare a quick dish.

We only showcase those places where the food is really out of this world. We conduct our own research and we also have a hospitality consultant on the show. For example, there is this Argentinian place called Asado in downtown Dubai with a fantastic view of the Burj Dubai. But the food was tremendously good.

I have realised that people have extremely fickle eating habits here. Loyalty towards any particular restaurant is almost non-existent. While this might be a disadvantage for the restaurants, it's great because it shows people are more experimental and open to trying new things and new places.

Not at all. I've learnt something new about myself thanks to the show, which is I will go to any lengths to find good food. But I do get tired of buying bigger clothes every time I go shopping. I have clothes of five different sizes.

Turkish food has been largely ignored in this city. I think this is one cuisine that we haven't experimented with too much. Ottomans at Grosvenor House in Dubai is a fine example to get you started.

Whatever is next has to incorporate an element of fusion. There are restaurants that combine relatively similar cuisines like Chinese and Thai or Malay and Indonesian, but I guess it's time to get bolder and more experimental with contrasting cuisines like, say, Mexican and Sri Lankan. If nothing else it will at least be very, very hot. Fusions at the Royal Meridien at the Dubai Marina combines Thai, Malay and Indonesian and it's been around for eight years, which is a long time in Dubai.

There is really a lot more to Indian food than tandoori dishes or South Indian fare like dosas. Although Dubai can pride itself in having some very good options when it comes to regional Indian food like Goan, Mangalorean, Hyderabadi, Chettinad, Gujarati and even Rajasthani, it's time to explore foods from Kashmir. Right now, we're testing two places that serve bohri ki thaal (a dish typically associated with Gujarati Muslims). They deliver and it's a communal dish that you eat with friends.

Eating Out, on SET Asia (Sony Entertainment Television): Fridays at 12.30pm and Saturdays (repeat) at 10.30pm.
sbhattacharya@thenational.ae