Dubai’s most exclusive chef’s table is now serving

The Experience by Reif Othman sits just 12 people and doesn’t have a menu.

November 1, 2016

Dubai has its fair share of restaurants tied to world-renowned chefs. Gordon Ramsey’s, Jason Atherton’s, Nathan Outlaw’s… to name only a very few. But there’s one local cook who on the regional dining scene commands just as much attention.

That man is Reif Othman, formerly of Zuma. He’s opened a new VIP dining concept called The Experience and promises that it will deliver “dishes that you will never have tasted in Dubai or anywhere for that matter.”

His new eatery is on the 37th floor of The H Hotel and is effectively a chef’s table concept to his Play restaurant one floor below. It seats just 12 people and is available for brunch, lunch or dinner with Othman cooking and serving every dish himself. 

There’s no real menu as such, instead you tell Othman what you don’t eat and he cooks up whatever dishes come to him in the moment. And presumably from whatever produce he has available to him at the time, which is probably most things. 

EDGAR caught up with Othman and asked him who would be the 12 people from his life that he would invite to each take a seat at The Experience. 

David Mollicone, my ex chef
He respects good produce and lets it speak by cooking it correctly. He taught me about cooking good French food properly and moving away from creamy, thick sauces. 

Ekin Cheng, a famous Chinese actor
He became well known after a movie called Young & Dangerous about gangs in Hong Kong. Back in my younger days, I was little naughty and this movie reminds me of those times. The moral of the movie is about good friendship and staying away from trouble. People always say I look like him!

Zaidi, my best friend
We’ve been friends since we were 16, and now we are both married with kids. He is just a simple guy. 

Jeremy McGrath, a motocross rider
I wanted to be a skater or motocross professional when I was young. Jeremy gave me the drive to get on a dirt bike and I still like to ride in the desert in the morning every week.

Violet Oon, my ex chef 
I was very young when I worked with her. She have me an opportunity to work in her busy kitchen and learn to cook Nyonya cuisine with a twist. Plus she guided me through life – she’s like my second mother.

Tony Hawk, the skateboarder
I've been a big fan of him since I was young. He did all these amazing tricks and trademarked them. He fascinated me because he was a tall guy and not many tall guys are good at skateboarding. I used to take my skateboard to bed and use it as a hug pillow! 

Jean Paul Naquin, my ex-chef
We worked together in 2000 in Raffles Hotel Singapore and then in Burj Al Arab here in Dubai.

My wife Jasmine
We have been married for 11 years, with two beautiful monsters Ayden, who’s 10 and Ally, eight. We met through friends and she has been my backbone, supporting me in my career with the late hours and hardly being at home. She is not just my wife but my best friend.

My parents and sister
My dad Haji Othman bin Abdullah is Chinese and converted to Muslim when he married my mum Hajjah who is my mentor as she is the best cook in my life. My elder sister Aishah is a make-up artist in Singapore. 

Heng, my close friend
He supplied me some kitchen equipment at work 20 years ago and we became good friends. He’s proud seeing me grow year after year in this industry.