The canteen-style togetherness that 3FILS is a master of is just one of the things under threat from the new social-distancing protocols that come with the on-going presence of Covid-19. The huddled queues of mates outside waiting for a first-come-first-served table is another. “We’ve also had to change the menu a little bit because of the fresh product that could, and couldn’t, come in from abroad at the height of the coronavirus,” explains Rami Massoud, restaurant manager. So, what does the Japanese-inspired Jumeirah Harbour favourite look like post-lockdown?
We arrive on a cooler than average evening and find ourselves joining the back of a queue of about 10 people (all groups stood at least one-metre apart). The temperature is still close to 40-degrees centigrade, but that’s not keeping these 3FILS fans away from the multi-award winning eatery. Inside is full – which comes as no surprise, where they used to squeeze in 40 people is now four tables – seating about a third of that. The three groups in front of us happily opt for the socially-distanced tables outside overlooking the harbour, and as luck would have it, a table inside clears as we reach the front.
Temperatures are checked by masked staff and we’re lead to a table in the corner of the tiny restaurant – well away from the other three tables. Menus are accessed on our phones via QR codes and a pot of sanitiser wipes on our table is refilled every 15 minutes or so between dishes. The numbers might be down, but the buzz of chatter and laughter still fills the establishment as expats and locals alike tuck into what is easily some of the best food in the Emirate. “We’re all about the substance rather than the style,” laughs Rami as he talks us through the day’s dishes. But the truth is, we’re in love with the laid-back style of the decor, it complements the intricately displayed dishes perfectly.
Rami insists we try A LOT of the dishes and who are we to argue with a man who talks so passionately when describing one plate of food after another. We start off with the eye-popping dragon sushi rolls with shrimp tempura, which are as much a feast for the taste buds as they are for the eyes, crunchy spicy tuna sushi rolls, deliciously coated in furikake seasoning follow, before the tender but decadent wagyu beef and caviar nigiri rolls arrive – now we’re really being spoilt!
We wash all these down with fruity mocktails, while taking bites of the refreshing scallops with mandarin orange and sumac, creating a delicious palate cleanser between plates. But the meal isn’t over, just as we’re tucking into the daily special of seabass ceviche with green apple salad, Rami and staff bring over the most delicately cooked cod, served with a traditional Mexican zarandeado sauce and a side of sticky chicken wings.
There’s barely room for dessert but of course Rami – the host with the most insists, and very soon we’re tucking into the dreamy African powerhouse: a Ghanian dark chocolate ganache with Madagascar vanilla ice cream as well as an indulgent mango dessert bowl, where smashing through the film exterior reveals mango compote, Greek yoghurt ice cream and crunchy fried tapioca – mix well for best results.
We’re almost done and the queue of people outside is really building up. So, how are they coping with the new measures when demand is still so high? “We’re opening up more space next door,” explains Rami. “And with the weather getting better – even more diners can enjoy the view outside.” There’s nothing that seems to get his spirit down, even when he talks about the tougher times at the start of lockdown. “We had to adjust, just like everyone else.” he explains. “And we did it by letting customers order our burger patties, complete with our buns and condiments, and cook and assemble them at home – it kept them all happy.”
And as we’ve all discovered, that’s what 2020 is all about: adjusting and doing the best we can with what we have. When what you have is some of the most inspiring seafood dishes in the region, fresh ingredients that are giving Michelin-starred restaurants a run for their money, and a customer-loving ethos that puts safety and enjoyment above financial fortune, then a brand as rich in substance as 3FILS, is destined to succeed.
Crunchy Spicy Tuna Rolls
Variety of Sushi
Tuna Carpaccio with Uni