HAYAL - A Modern Turkish Dining Experience

Hayal - Flavors of Istanbul

Hayal is a Turkish word that means daydreams and daydreaming. 

The menu of Hayal was designed and created with this in mind by the regionally well-renowned Chef entrepreneur, Roberto Sigura with his team. Hayal promises five-star experiences from start to finish with masterfully prepared modern Turkish dishes, impeccable presentation, and vivacious entertainment. I expected we are in for a wonderful and extraordinary culinary dining experience.

With its new iconic location at The St. Regis Downtown (Mezzanine Floor) where the restaurant faces Dubai Water Canal, it could make you feel like you're in a dream. "Transported and seated overlooking Bhosporus straight whilst in Dubai, with its dramatic skyline, not to mention the lush, colorful, and artsy Anatolian interior while savoring an especially concocted menu"

It all sounds great and well, very true to its concept. 

As soon as we enter the restaurant, it gives you all the Turkish vibes. The look, the sound, the smell. Beautiful and luxurious interior. There is a lot of artwork scattered throughout the whole restaurant, which was really amazing. (Click on the photo to enlarge it).

Facade of Hayal

Hayal's front of the restaurant upon entry

Hayal's Bar

Hayal - Main Restaurant Dining Area

Hayal - Dining Area

Hayal - Open Kitchen Layout

Hayal - Outdoor Seating

Hayal-Outdoor Seating with view of Dubai Water Canal

We were warmly welcomed by Fatima and were seated in the middle of the restaurant where we can see all the action in their open kitchen. It is such a delight to see how the whole team works. The food is prepared, comes out to be checked by the head chef, and is immediately taken by the servers to the dining tables. No time is wasted, and food stays warm (if hot) and fresh. 

Mark and Babi was our server for the night. They were amazing. Made us feel at home. We were offered first water and given the menu for the drinks. It's a dry night for us so we both had passion fruit mocktails. 

Then the parade of cold and hot dishes began. Each one has its own way of presentation by the well-trained waitstaff, giving you a multi-sensory encounter with the food you are about to eat.

We started with some compressed watermelon topped with pickled onion and caramelized walnut. Mark tossed the salad in front of us. We eat with our eyes first and watching him mix it made it so appetizing. It is refreshing and tastes like candy.

Stuffed vine leaves with raspberry sauce caramelized using nitrogen. It is such a sight to watch Mark use liquid nitrogen to caramelize the raspberry and top it with the Dolma. It gets so dramatic. 

We just love how Chef Roberto played with all the textures and tastes, balancing each with sweet and salty, sometimes citrusy flavors. Then adding all the play in serving it. It is genius.

And then there's the pickled tuna belly with grape leaves dressing. The only cold appetizer we were hesitant to try but tried anyway and has become our favorite among the cold starters. It's that good. Maybe a little more dressing will go a long way.

Turkish loves to eat and they are proud of their food. If you've been dining Turkish before, you know that the table is overflowing with food. Delicious food. It's a fine dining setting so they divided how our food was served. Still, there's so much food but I am not complaining, I am just reiterating that it is still so traditionally Turkish in such a modern way. 

We pause for a breather and then we started with the hot appetizers. 

This baked eggplant with muhammara was all for me. The husband doesn't eat eggplant so I enjoyed it all to myself. Very filling, rich, and comforting but I couldn't finish it all. It was really meant to be shared.

I like how this Icli Kofte Courgette was served and how it taste. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with lots of texture from the shredded courgette.

The last of the hot starters were the Tiger Prawn Tempura which was amazing. I like how crispy the batter is and the prawn succulent after it's fried. I believe, if the chef agrees with me, the additional wrapping of grape leaves helps to keep the prawn meat succulent. Japan meets Turkey and it's great.

Moving on to the mains. 

Beyti Kebab wrapped in bread topped with garlic yogurt. I left it all to the husband to enjoy and he's ok with it. I love kebabs but not all kebabs are the same, this one has more lamb taste than I could handle. It came with the skewer on and Mark took it out for us.  

On the other hand, this grilled lamb chop is a winner. I can eat it all day, every day. Cooked to perfection like the way we requested- medium well. No need for a dipping sauce, it is delicious on its own.

Hubby and I both agree that this grilled octopus from Hayal's signature dishes was amazing. Deserves two thumbs up and kudos to Chef Roberto. It was smoked whilst being served.

Last but not least is dessert and tea.

Baklava stuffed with Turkish ice cream? What an idea, it was the perfect way to end our dinner. Turkey meets the Philippines. (that's our bread with ice cream). It is so nice for Hayal to pay attention to these small details. It made us feel special and Hayal is forever embedded in our memory.

Last night was Hayal's grand opening night. I'm sure everyone who has experienced their hospitality and tasted their food was happy to tell all their friends about it. 

If you are on the hunt for a fun and delectable dining experience, put Hayal on top of your list.

It is truly a five-star dining experience from start to finish. You'll leave happy with a big smile on your face and a sated belly with all the good food you'll have.

Watch our full experience on our youtube channel

My Yellow Bells

Carla is a lifestyle blogger based in Dubai who's thankful to call this ever-evolving city her second home. The pages of this blog are filled with stories about her expat life in the sandpit. It features dining and travel adventures in and around the city and beyond. It also features food recipes, parenting tips, and fashion style.

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