A few weeks ago, I had a dig at this place whilst making a point about restaurants in MoE. To be fair, when I did visit, I had a pretty disappointing experience but the backlash I received was devastating – three of my favourite food writers; Courtney (atozaatar), Zoe (theluxeologist) and Haiya (passmethedimsum) all individually had a go at me and told me I was talking nonsense, as well as a few followers on my instagram/facebook pages. So I decided to give it another chance and do a full review rather than a passive-aggressive one-liner.
On my way to the mall, I messaged Haiya and asked her exactly what to order as she was the most forceful in her beratement. As luck would have it, she was also at MoE so offered to join me and prove me completely wrong to have initially judged it so poorly!
If you’ve never been to DTF, it’s in MoE’s new extension, right by the cinema. It’s usually one of the busier restaurants on the top floor and comes from great pedigree – originating in Taiwan, it has locations all over South East and Far Asia as well as Australia and the USA. Its branch in Hong Kong has also been awarded a coveted Michelin Star.
The restaurant itself is simple and cleanly designed, the entrance is adorned by flowers and hanging plants and once you get inside the restaurant, there are some trendy hanging lights and an intricately crafted wooden divider. It’s not going to win any awards, but it does the job well for a mall space.
We were led to our table and given the menus. I closed mine and told Haiya, “You’re in charge!” so she picked the dishes. The selections were the Bean Curd Puffs (that I wouldn’t have ordered in a million years), the Szechuan Vegetable Wontons, the Vegetable Chow Mein and Crispy Beef.
The Bean Curd Puffs arrived and I looked at Haiya like, “what the hell is this?!” but in all fairness they were ecellend – she described them as “like soggy pieces of delicious bread” and it was a spot-on analogy. They had a lovely spongy texture with a sweet-yet-umami mix of flavour.
Next up were the Szechaun Vegetable Wontons. They arrived sat in the sauce and Haiya enjoyed mixing it all together. Each mouthful was wonderful – sweet, sour, spicy, sensational! The wontons had a beautiful silky texture and were generously filled with a tasty, spicy vegetable mix. As you can tell, I loved this dish (as did the wife when I brought home the leftovers!).
The Chow Mein and Crispy Beef arrived together. Initially, I was a bit confused about the beef as I was expecting it to be served with a sauce not just piled up and dry, but it was outrageously crispy and moreish – I could imagine being next door at the cinema, eating it up like popcorn. When I tried it with the Chow Mein, it really worked as a cohesive meal. The noodles were excellent, and the dish was again packed full of balanced flavours. Comfort food at its absolute finest.
We didn’t have time for desserts but was happy to hold my hands up at the end of the meal and admit that I was wrong to quickly dismiss DTF and now, I could understand why so many people rate it extremely highly. I’ll definitely be back to try more of the menu soon.
FOOD: 14/15 – Fantastically flavourful!
SERVICE: 11.5/15 – Your standard, quick-turnaround, mall-dining service; efficient but impersonal. All the food came lightning fast so no complaints.
DRINKS SELECTION: 2/5 – A bit poor in this area, nothing really out of the ordinary other than your standard juices, coffee and teas.
AMBIANCE: 4/5 – It was relatively early and the restaurant was already
DESIGN: 3.5/5 – Unspectacular, but does the job well for the inside of a mall and the plants are pretty in the entrance.
VALUE: 5/5 – The serve food as good – if not better – than some of the more expensive Asian restaurants in Dubai and for four dishes and two jasmine teas, a price of 138 AED was very fair.
CONCLUSION: A complete reversal to my initial thoughts of the place. Loved every dish and now will be my go-to spot for some tasty comfort food when in the Mall!