If anything can be said about Dubai, it’s that it doesn’t do anything by halves. A tax-free jewel in the Emirati crown, Dubai boasts the world’s tallest building and the largest shopping mall, as well as indoor ski slopes and artificial islands. The Emirate’s culinary scene has blossomed, attracting a number of world class chefs and restaurants. Just like its skyline, Dubai’s restaurants are ever-changing, so read our updated guide to unmissable venues here.
A signature dish at Armani/Amal Courtesy Armani/Amal
Fresh and aromatic traditional Indian cuisine is on the menu at Armani/Amal. The restaurant combines the best of Indian cuisine with a modern fine-dining experience. The restaurant is located in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa as part of the Armani hotel. The minimalist interior matches the presentation of the dishes which explode with flavor. Described as the ‘true taste of India in an unforgettable setting,’ the head chef cooks up dishes inspired by regional Indian cuisine which is given a sophisticatedly modern twist. One of the regional dishes, a tender lamb shank curry inspired by Hyderabadi cuisine, combines a delicate balance of meat, spices and herbs, authentically true to the traditional techniques.
Opened in the summer of 2013, contemporary Asian restaurant Blue Jade has gone from strength to strength, and was named Best New Restaurant in Dubai by BBC Good Food in its opening year. The restaurant’s ethos is to celebrate Far Eastern regional cuisine through classic Asian cooking with a contemporary twist. Head chef Ta Van who is from Vietnam, has crafted a diverse menu inspired by his homeland, as well as cuisines from surrounding countries. As well as cooking up Japanese and Thai dishes, Ta Van uses family recipes to great effect, which includes the delectable ginger sea bass wrapped in lotus leaf, which is from his grandmother’s recipe. Other popular dishes include Vietnamese rice paper rolls, a wide range of Japanese sushi, as well as black pepper crab from Singapore. The restaurant also hosts cooking classes every month for diners to learn the secret’s of Asia’s cuisine.
La Petite Maison interior | Courtesy La Petite Maison
Indego By Vineet describes itself as ‘Dubai’s best Indian Restaurant,’ a claim which might seem a little overconfident considering the wealth of Indian cuisines across the Emirate. However after winning Timeout’s award for Best Indian, as well as being headed by Michelin-starred Chef Vineet Bhatia, it seems the restaurant is worthy of its title. The restaurant is commended for its combination of traditional spices and techniques with fine-dining presentation. The resulting menu is a vibrant amalgamation of textures, exotic flavors and elegant presentation. A popular item amongst the wide range of dishes is the lobster peri peri, prepared in a Goan-Portuguese style with peri peri chilies and ginger garlic paste. The tasting menu with thoughtful wine pairings provides a more concise range of flavors, from crab-melon seed lentil-spinach soup and Varki black olive, rosemary chicken tikka olive upma, to the Saffron basil sorbet to finish.
La Petite Maison interior Courtesy La Petite Maison
La Petite Maison
Restaurant, French, Italian, Mediterranean, $$$
Ossiano Interior | Courtesy Ossiano
La Petite Maison is inspired by Genoese Nicoise cuisine. Originating from Nice, the style combines French Mediterranean with Italian influences. Cooking up healthy dishes from the region, the starters include a tapenade of Niçoise olives. The menu then evolves into an interesting concoction of flavors: from the succulent carpaccio de boeuf, lightly cured with a pickle dressing, to the extravagant warm green asparagus with truffle sauce. Local vegetables from the region including zucchini, artichokes, lemons, olives, tomatoes and peppers are used creatively with the seafoods and meats found in the region. Unparalleled in Dubai, the restaurant delights in combining high quality ingredients with the rustic traditions from the region in which the cuisine originated.
Ossiano was awarded the best seafood restaurant in 2013 and 2014 by TimeOut Dubai, and surrounded by the Ambassador Lagoon aquarium its setting perfectly matches its achievements. Obviously excelling in seafood, dining while surrounded by 65,000 marine animals is an experience in itself. The taste of the dishes are of equal praise, from Mediterranean inspired daily dishes to the Scotch Confit of Loch Fyne salmon with cucumber, dill and slow roasted tomato. The restaurant is truly a unique experience unlike another in the world let alone in the Middle east.
The location of the Pierchic seafood restaurant sets it apart from any other in Dubai. Housed at the end of a wooden pier on stilts, the restaurant juts out into the Persian Gulf, a perfectly suited location for a seafood restaurant. With wonderful views across the city on one side and the expansive ocean on the other, the dining experience is one of the most relaxed in the city, ideal for a romantic meal. The hot seafood platter for two including halibut, salmon, sea bass scallops and black tiger prawns comes highly recommended, but with a 900 AED price tag, the dishes are best suited for special occasions.
Bar, Restaurant, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Contemporary
Qbara combines Arabesque-inspired dishes with a modern twist, and is a welcome addition to Dubai’s culinary scene. The extremely modern and sophisticated decor is reflected in the food, but is inspired by more traditional Maghreb, Levantine and Middle Eastern cuisines. The expansive building includes the restaurant, lounge and bar centered on spectacular handcarved wooden panels. Of note on the menu is the succulent Egyptian style pigeon with freekah & medjoul dates. To accompany the menu, the wine list is extensive and is crafted to suit the wide range of flavors and aromas of the dishes.
Bars in Dubai usually come in two forms, either generic Irish-Brit gastro-pubs lacking in style, or glamorous cocktail bars devoid of character. The Speakeasy Bar & Restaurant turns this notion on its head, offering a retro alternative to the scene. Inspired by mid-20s prohibition, the bar’s decor oozes everything Americana. Offering a wide range of cocktails, burgers, grills, even cigars, the Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant is certainly a refreshing and entertaining place to hang out. Awarded as the ‘Best New Pub 2013’ by TimeOut Dubai, the bar also has themed nights, a classic jukebox and acoustic nights. The food is American inspired with the signature burger and Mama’s casserole coming highly recommended.
Yuan is an elegant and contemporary Chinese restaurant with its inspirations deep-rooted in China’s traditional cuisine. Modern food combined with classic recipes has resulted in Yuan becoming one of the best restaurants on the manmade Palm Island, one of Dubai’s most stylish locations. The dishes are inspired by Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine to create tasty and elegantly presented dishes. As well as private dining areas, the Oriental Inner Courtyard was specially designed to be reminiscent of the welcoming yet extravagant dining halls of Chinese nobility. On Friday mornings, the restaurant welcomes visitors to ‘Yum Cha,’ the Chinese tradition of drinking tea, while eating dim sum. A wide selection of noodles & rice dishes, salads, and traditional Chinese desserts are served with high quality teas. Late in the afternoon the bar’s mixologist creates a clever selection of tea cocktails.
Zuma is an internationally renowned restaurant located close to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Tipped as one of the best restaurants in the world by San Pellegrino, Zuma incorporates the traditional Japanese Izakaya style of dining, which encourages sharing. As Japanese tradition dictates, the dishes are brought to the table one after another, a very informal, yet enjoyable eating style. There is an emphasis on bold, intense flavors combined with fine-dining presentation across the sashimi, sushi and robata menus. A dish sure to draw in the crowd is the lavish Wagyu beef sushi with Sevruga caviar.