Dining Out 2 minutes 02 January 2024

Behind the Dish: Explosion by moonrise

An explosion of cultures in one bite: meet the signature dish of Dubai's one MICHELIN star restaurant, moonrise.

Solemann Haddad is a young, down-to-earth chef leaving his mark in Dubai’s culinary scene. Having earned the Young Chef Award in Dubai’s 2022 revelation and his first MICHELIN star in 2023 for moonrise, the Syrian-French, Dubai-raised chef is paving the way for third culture cuisine in the city.

Comparing the way he uses his ingredients to words, “I always say that if the ingredients we used were words in the vocabulary, then we are using an international vocabulary to share a very local and personal story,” his menu captivates with innovative and creative dishes that pack on the flavour and reflect the chef’s cherished food memories, impressing MICHELIN’s inspectors.

Each plate at moonrise draws inspiration from Haddad’s culturally-rich upbringing, blending all the influential cuisines that crossed his path growing up. “It can be about a memory, or about an ingredient, but it must say something about me and my experience in my home, Dubai,” Haddad explains. While he changes his menu often, one particular creation has seen unwavering success and has retained its spot as the eatery’s signature dish known as ‘Explosion.’

In this article, we delve into the story behind the dish and how its depth of flavour and culture cemented its popularity with all who taste it.

Get to know chef Solemann's hidden gems in Dubai here


What is it

Explosive, culturally relevant, nuanced: these are the words Haddad uses to describe Explosion. At first sight, the plate may appear like a simple one, yet has a deeply layered composition in just a single bite. The most popular dish on his menu since day one, Explosion is the perfect testament of the chef’s connection to his past and his culinary mastery. The Pani Puri shell encases white chocolate ganache, foie gras, pineapple, saffron chutney, date syrup and Szechuan chili oil, all served at varying temperatures, offering levels of different flavour.

How Explosion came to be

When it comes to the conception of his dishes, Haddad starts by fine tuning and distilling the idea into a “focused and harmonious story that shares something valuable about our culture and background.” The story here is one that does just that as it leaves a lasting impression on its diners. Haddad packs on the flavour, showcases the cultural inspiration, and highlights the ingredients they use from the first bite with Explosion.

While flavours play a big role in the dish itself, its multicultural inspirations are spread across different parts of the dish. “For starters, we’ve served it in a Pani Puri shell rather than a tartlet shell, in homage to the importance of Indian street food that has historically played an important role in the city’s food scape,” he describes, “this holds especially true in the older neighborhoods of Dubai where I grew up.” As for that extra Middle Eastern touch, the use of date syrup is “meant to showcase the versatility of the ingredients that are indigenous to the Middle East.”

Specifically for this dish, the techniques and main ingredients he uses here are uncommon in Middle Eastern cuisine yet is quite influenced by it.

“The way that the flavours work, as well as the intensity of flavours very much represents the powerful balance of flavours that we love in the region.”

How it’s made

Haddad’s craft lies in his mastery of technique, the collaboration between various ingredients, and how he balances them. “We’ve worked on it in a manner that allows many varying flavours to contrast and complement one another,” Haddad says. To make Explosion, he starts by making the pineapple chutney through a reduction of pineapples, saffron and fennel. He then gives the foie gras a slight char and whips it into a ganache with white chocolate and rich date syrup. The chili oil, made by caramelising garlic and infused with chili, is added and creates a dish that activates the palate.

Why so signature?

When it comes to the dish’s explosive popularity, Haddad credits its bite-sized stature as a big factor in its success. “I feel that people really appreciate how this dish takes about ten seconds to eat, and within those ten seconds the flavors and textures keep evolving with every bite,” he explains. The dish’s layered flavours are bursting with variety. Diners get to experience sweetness and acidity from the pineapple, followed by richness stemming from the date syrup, savoury and roasted elements emerge from the foie gras and finally a kick of spice thanks to the chili, creating a harmony of distinct tastes in an almost orchestral order.

“This effect is achieved by serving the ingredients at varying temperatures and fat contents, releasing flavors sequentially in the mouth, rather than all at once,” he explains, “we’ve served hundreds of dishes since we opened our restaurant, and every night the Explosion is still one of the most favorited dishes by our guests.”

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