A new hotspot in The Oberoi, Business Bay, Waka offers predominantly Peruvian food in a chilled atmosphere. We ask Executive Chef/ entrepreneur Roberto Segura what his aims for this latest launch are..
Tell us about Waka.
Waka is a Latin American restaurant and bar which offers the best in contemporary Latin American food with an emphasis on Peruvian roots. Waka is the ideal place for a real foodie experience for dinner time, and the ultimate venue in really experiencing the party atmosphere of Latin America.
Tell us a little about the inspiration for the menu, the design and the tastes.
The Waka menu is full of different techniques, textures and colours, and was designed to surprise people with every bite. When creating it, I drew inspiration from my childhood, and the various jobs I have had in different countries, and mixed this with modern techniques. I tried to recreate traditional dishes with a variety of new ingredients that I have discovered throughout my journey. It has been a labour of love and is something I am very proud of.
As Culinary Ambassador of the Trade and Investment Office of Peru in the UAE, what do you do to promote Peruvian food here?
My work with the Trade Office of Peru in the UAE started about six years ago. When the office opened here, we started working together with the aim to bring new Peruvian products into the market and promote the consumption of the same here between different concepts of restaurants.
We successfully organised the Taste of Peru for three years – a festival promoting traditional recipes from Peru with all the products we could source locally.
When we started this job, we found that there were only three Peruvian products in the market – quinoa, asparagus and avocado. Today, we have more than 34 Peruvian products in local markets, from fresh chillies to frozen pulps, and we are working hard to start bringing in seafood products too. It was difficult in the beginning to promote Peruvian food in Dubai as everyone saw it only as a short-term trend. However, our goal of incorporating homegrown Peruvian products into the market has now become a reality.
Do you subscribe to the feeling here that dining in Dubai is as much about entertainment as the food?
Yes, Dubai is a very difficult market. You have to be able to offer great food, but then you realise that people don’t want to just go out for dinner, they also want a social experience. The market here is always looking for new experiences and that is what we aim to offer in Waka – great food, great service and a night to remember.
What’s Waka’s signature dish?
The Waka caliente, which is a hot ceviche made on the table, and the other is the chocolate bomb!Is it difficult to source ingredients here?
Nowadays, it is not difficult as there are so many suppliers, and I can get any ingredient that I want or need locally. The only challenges are the delivery dates from suppliers which need to be managed carefully.
You have The Act and Toro Toro under your belt, and now this. What’s next?
The Act and Toro Toro were my previous houses in Dubai, two years ago and both are experiences I look back on very fondly. Later on, following the establishment of 3 Hospitality, we created Craft Café, the first dining venue in the iconic Dubai Design District. Under the same family we then created Waka and now we are already working on our next project which we hope to launch at the end of this year.
Where do you eat in Dubai?
There are so many options to have dinner in Dubai but not many that are great experiences. I usually go for the casual restaurants, and am always trying to discover the hidden gems in the older parts of Dubai.
Any chefs you admire?
So many! But on the top of my list for sure are Grant Achatz, Quique Dacosta and Virgilio Martinez
What advice would you give to home cooks looking to emulate Latin American flavours at home?
The most important advice in our cuisine is to respect and understand the products.
Waka, The Oberoi, Dubai
Opening times: Saturday to Wednesday from 6pm to 12am; Thursday and Friday from 6pm to 1am
04 444 1455