With the theatrics of its open-plan kitchen, this sultry eatery at the Sundus Rotana adds a touch of spectacle to every course, as Team Y discovers .
A red curtain, a velvet rope and an elevator to the ethereal. In a dim-lit dining room, stars of the stage and silver screen look down from the walls over a theatre of another kind – the sizzle and pop of the wok, the fragrant hiss of the grill, the slap of the paddle in the wood-fired pizza oven, the clink of glasses. At the centre of this stage, a sushi chef presides over the live station, his deft fingers working the bamboo mat that is the tool of his rolling trade.
Sundus Rotana’s Teatro, the property’s signature upscale restaurant, is pulling out all the stops to add a five-star feather in the cap to the calibre of the business hotel’s culinary offerings. Come at golden hour for a pre-dinner sundowner on the terrace or luxuriate in the speak-easy vibe of their ruby-red lounge as you wait for your table.
On this night, we arrive for a late spot of dinner, well after the evening rush has come and gone, and we have the dining room mostly to ourselves. A hostess in a red dress leads us to the back of the room to a table tucked near the window.
The two staff looking after us throughout the evening are both knowledgeable and initially attentive – though somewhat absent towards the end of the night as we end up flagging down the sushi chef to chase our bill for us.
Priding itself on an inspired multi-cuisine menu (think Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Italian) and culinary performances that live up to its name, we’ve come with hefty appetites and high expectations for Teatro to deliver. After perusing a plentiful menu that looks like a playbill, we settle on a starter of the crispy prawns with wasabi mayo to share.
Expecting small, deep-fried morsels of shrimp, what we get instead is a full-sized helping of tempura-battered tiger prawns; each morsel piping-hot and the ideal vehicle for the perfectly-balanced kick of the slightly sweet wasabi side. It’s a good start to the evening’s meal and a sign of things to come.
Next up is a portion of Szechuan-style hot-and-sour soup that comes served in a cast-iron cauldron kept warm by the flame of a candle. Spicy and warming it’s a hit, with ample spoonfuls of shredded chicken, plump prawns, and tofu on every dip. We also try a Sakura salad – ideal for those looking to maximize on flavour while cutting out carbs. Buttery slivers of marinated tuna and salmon sashimi are the stars against a well-balanced backdrop of tossed greens in a puckery Japanese vinaigrette.
While one half of the table remains rooted in flavours from the Asian continent, the other half ventures over to Italy, with a round of pasta making an appearance. A douse of freshly-cracked black pepper and lashings of pungent Parmesan are a toothsome twosome when paired with perfectly al dente penne Arabbiata.
For our cotillion of sushi-lovers, (all two of us…), we order up an array of maki rolls that hits the spot – earning extra marks for presentation and creativity. Can’t decide between spicy tuna or salmon? With their Kon-Bi-Ne-Shon Roll you don’t have to – just don’t try pronouncing it `
We also opt for portions of the Ebi Tempura and Rocky Mars Rolls – the former a no-fail classic; the sweetness of the shrimp balanced by its spicy condiment while the latter is a modern imagining of salmon tossed with cream cheese and topped with crispy skin. For this writer I would have preferred to leave that one aside to be happily wolfed down by my colleague.
While Teatro is not a stand-alone restaurant in the Rotana’s culinary arsenal – with numerous incarnations at properties across the GCC, Sundus Rotana’s version here in Muscat, while on the pricier side, sustains its reputation in a market ripe for five-star flavour.
Five-star multicultural cuisine in opulent surroundings.
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