The Latest Chapter Of Enigma Leaves More Questions Than Answers


When Enigma opened in January this year, the foodies of Dubai were genuinely excited. It was to have a new concept every few months, bringing the best chefs from around the world, all under the theme of ‘The Untold Story’. The first one, Quique Dacosta from Spain was amazing, then Bjorn Frantzen brought Nordic flare to Dubai for an amazing stint before the summer break. But the crowds weren’t coming. One felt that a lot depended on what they would do when they opened next. 

Even after two amazing chefs and excellent menus the jury was still out

The format remained the same, a set menu. The first chef had 14 courses, the second was around eight. There was a fixed price of AED 750 without drinks. But the crowds weren’t coming. The place wasn’t full every night. For the investment in the space, the chefs and the quality of produce, it would have needed to be. But why? Some said there weren’t enough options, not everyone wanted so many courses. Others say that it takes time for a chef and a venue to build up a customer base. While some blamed Palazzo Versace’s location and accessibility. 

So, for the third chef, Enigma changed it up

Enigma opened again on 28 September. They would normally change the chef, the menu and the layout of the restaurant. But this time they tried a few new things. They didn’t reveal the name of the chef until a few hours before opening (previously there was a short movie made to announce the chef in advance). Gone was the only ‘one option’ menu, an added à la carte menu was introduced. Even the French waiter had grown a mustache for the Turkish occasion. There were new ornaments in the restaurant and the wall paper had changed to give it a more Anatolian feel.

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Chef Yunus Emre Aydin holds the torch for the next chapter of Enigma

Hailing from Marmaris, a port town on the Mediterranean coast, chef Yunus started life as a yacht captain in his native country of Turkey. He began his culinary career 15 years ago when a siren call of the culinary arts lured him off his ship and into the kitchen. He’s been at the side of the illustrious chef Fabrice, executive chef at Palazzo Versace Dubai, ever since they first began working together in the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum.

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So what’s his story?

The first chapter was called ‘The Vanguard’, the second one, ‘Journey Of A Nordic Chef’, this one is called ‘An Inside Story’. It will see the evolutionary Enigma bring Turkish cuisine to life in a new and creative way. Here is the trailer that came out after the Chef was announced.

One thing that is guaranteed to stay consistent at Enigma is how amazing the food looks

My guest wondered how a cuisine so steeped in history such as Anatolian traditions would fair in such a modern concept. I’ll let the images do the talking. Below is a sample of what you’ll see on the tasting menu or the à la carte.

The Sultan cocktail, a fusion of flavors

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Seven spice lamb shank

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Bodrum Mandalinali Karides: Aegean shrimps with Bodrum mandarin sauce, green apple sorbet, lemon cream, basil oil and basil cips 

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Pancarli couscous, beetroot couscous, duck confit, fresh herbs and asparagus

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Shakshouka, eggplant cream, tomato espuma, pepper marmalade with crispy bread and potato chips

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“Ottoman Shade”. In the days of the Ottoman Empire, people celebrated a conquered victory with this drink 

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Apple mousse served with orange sauce and “Kaymak” ice cream

(Featured image)

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Even though attempts to please the crowd were made, it still didn’t work

The chef had worked under the previous chefs. No doubt talented, he isn’t a star name to draw the crowds. My guest, one of the most knowledgeable foodies I know, said before hand that she would die if the chef was Massimo Bottura, of Osteria Francescana fame (the current ‘greatest restaurant in the world’). That’s what Enigma should be attracting, it’s what it’s made for. That’s not to discredit chef Yunus – he is creative, ambitious and no doubt can become one of the world’s top chefs. You never know, he may even get Dubai’s first homegrown Michelin star one day. 

In the same month, Turkish restaurant Ruya opened in Grosvenor House. Arguably, the food and concept are better there than this installment of Enigma. That’s not to say Enigma can’t bounce back. ‘The Inside Story’ is a credible and chapter-worthy to be part of this story. However, it won’t be part of the story of the evolution of Turkish cuisine. Whereas Ruya just might. 

That said, I would definitely recommend those who haven’t tried Enigma yet do to so as it’s still one of the best restaurants you can experience at the moment in Dubai. For those who were at the first two, don’t miss this one.. you’ve started the book, don’t put it down just yet. 

I do hope they stick to their guns: they continue to invest in world class talent and bring the best chefs here. I also hope that people will go to Enigma. It’s a wonderful experience. 


  • Open from Monday to Saturday from 7pm to 11pm.
  • The tasting menu is costs AED 750 during the week and AED 850 on weekends. The à la carte varies. It’s roughly AED 80 for a starter and AED 200 for a main course. 
  • Location: Palazzo Versace Dubai
  • To book, call: 04 328 4604


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