September 27, 2023

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Buddhist hand-carved Mogao cave temples inspire DZ Design’s Pan-Asian restaurant


Set within a 4-star Raddison Red hotel in Dubai Silicon Oasis, DZ Design’s latest Pan-Asian restaurant pays homage to the Buddhist hand-carved Mogao caves in Gansu Province. Being home to many tech startups, DSO has a bustling and vibrant dining scene. Mogao, however, offers a temporary escape in a calm dining environment, reminiscent of dining in a cave.

With earthy, natural tones infused with accents of signature red, the interiors create a cosy, yet moody ambience, creating a more intimate connection to Asian cuisine.

Spanning 350 square metres, Mogao has a capacity for 150 guests inside and 100 outside.

“Asian restaurants can be quite gimmicky, so we didn’t want to create a literal interpretation or direct replica of such strong references, but to create a more immersive experience that transports

guests into the world of this rich cuisine” Dina Murali, creative director of DZ Design, explained.

Key design features

Inspired by traditional Asian cooking utensils – the bamboo steamer and the wok – Mogao’s interiors offer two distinct design features.

3D sketch of a cluster of blooming Anthuriums was created first, then layered with 50 different-sized woks suspended at various heights to create a true interpretation of the flowers.\

“We can visualise anything in 3D but being able to guide on-site the team on how to suspend 50 woks in the middle of the restaurant, that physical and handcrafted process is particularly important to all of us,” added Murali.

Another key design feature is the wall behind the bar counter, which overlooks the main dining room. The team incorporated 300 middle-sized bamboo steamers into the wall cladding, arranging them beautifully to form a 3D geometric pattern.

Design walk-through

Guests enter the restaurant through a low-ceiling entryway adorned with

wenge-finished timber battens. Glazed screens provide views into the busy kitchen, extending into the L-shaped bar area, which overlooks the dining area.

Multiple seating options are available to accommodate a larger capacity in the main dining hall and a greater degree of privacy in a slightly elevated section.

Bedecked with a cane backrest design, the black body dining chairs beautifully complements the neutral hues and make it an elegant addition to simple light oak dining tables.

A custom-made sectional booth seating sofa, upholstered in signature red colour, frames the main dining area into two sections, ending on the right side with a custom-made privacy screen, which is a reinterpretation of traditional Asian architectural elements.

Made out of a solid mango wood frame in a dark red lacquer finish with natural rattan cane panel fronts offer a gently rounded silhouette. The design team connected cane panels to the frame with dual-directional hinges that can be adjusted 360°, allowing smooth movement.

Private dining is available in the back area of the restaurant, which is slightly elevated.

Dark walnut has been used to craft the Mogao’s circular seating banquettes – their latticed backs are inspired by traditional Japanese Tatami rooms. In the same style, a metal mash and acrylic light boxes create a 3D wall on the back wall.

The monochrome floor tiles have a geometric pattern that adds a playful element to the elevated dining area.

A tribute to the chef

A few menu highlights, curated by Chef Nim Budha, include Korean Chicken Wings, Tsukune – Japanese-style minced chicken skewers, Har Gau – a Cantonese-style classic prawn dumpling, Crystal Veg – Jewel-like translucent veg dumpling, and Baked Yogurt – Signature dessert featuring a delicious blueberry compote.

“This is our second venture with chef Nim whose birthplace is, in fact, Mogao,” said Ramya Sivaprasad, who previously founded the Socialicious, a street-food style Asian restaurant located in Dubai’s Jumeirah Village Circle.

To meet tight deadlines, all materials were locally produced and furniture was locally sourced.

Throughout the room, light streams in from large floor-to-ceiling foldable doors that overlook the garden, which can be fully opened during the winter months.


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