Dubai is a food lover’s dream. Diverse restaurants, varied cuisines and mouthwatering delicacies make this city a must-visit for a true food connoisseur. What are you in the mood for? Lebanese? Vietnamese? Thai? Traditional? Well, take your pick. Dubai has it all.
Hoi An (Cuisine: Vietnamese)
The name gives it away but we implore you try Hoi An for fresh, home style Vietnamese fare. We warn you that it does get busy during lunch but whether you are after some la lot or pho, this cosy restaurant will deliver on flavour and impact. The dishes are substantial in size too. Pham the manager knows the menu inside out, so let her order for you or go for a set menu with genuine dishes like summer rolls, wok fried garlic prawns and pho. The grilled chicken here is gorgeously marinated and perfectly cooked. It’s tough to pick our favourite here as everything tastes so good!
Where: Level 1, Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road; Tel: +971-44052703; Timings: Dinner, open for lunch on Friday & Saturday too.
Ribs & Brews (Cuisine: American)
Portions are generous but don’t signify number over excellence–because here, one gets both in equal measure. Do try the incredibly crisp truffle, pecorino and mushroom flatbread topped with an additional serving of barbecue chicken, if you are sharing. The ribs here (you have to have it), smothered in a spicy barbecue sauce, are sublimely tender, rich and moist. Do away with cutlery is our tip. While American food is usually associated for being too meat-centric, here there are a few vegetarian options—the considerable Portobello mushroom burger and chowhound tomato soup are our picks.
Where: Lobby Level, Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City; Tel: +97- 44355577; Timings: 12pm to 1am
At.Mosphere (Cuisine: Modern European)
This plush spot has been the talk of the town for reasons more than one. Apart from its all dressed oysters and remarkable medley of champagne and cocktails, this beautiful restaurant offers stunning views from the top of the iconic Burj Khalifa where it sits 422 meters above the ground, literally giving a new meaning to the term ‘elevated dining experience’ with its stunning modern European fare by Chef Christopher Graham. Expect a few unexpected blends on the menu like a nutty risotto or chocolate moelleux with parsnip ice cream. All in all, the views, the upper class elements and remarkable flavour combinations…and yes, the atmosphere makes it a must-visit on your Dubai itinerary even if you just go for the afternoon tea or a drink. Don’t forget the book the table window!
Where: 122nd floor, Burj Khalifa-entry via Armani Hotel; Tel: +971-48883828; Timings: 7am to 2am
Ayamna (Cuisine: Lebanese)
A grand staircase descends to the restaurant boasting contemporary Arabic design. Generous appetisers make this place a great restaurant for groups. The hummus is superlative, and the unlimited, impossibly fresh free bread is welcome. Their signature main course, baked puff pastry ouzi, is an instant show stopper, ritually cut open by the staff, and the fragrant mix of rice, vegetables, lamb and chicken makes for a robust meal. The belly dancer who performs at regular intervals is oh so talented! End your meal with a mint tea and kunafa, we insist.
Where: Crescent Road, The Palm Atlantis, The Palm; Tel: +971-44262626; Timings: 6:30pm to 11pm
Thiptara (Cuisine: Thai)
Located in the lush gardens of the Palace Downtown, Thiptara is a must for Thai cravings. Fenced by the Burj Lake, the outstanding view of the Dubai Fountain converts this alfresco waterfront restaurant into a justly enchanted setting. Don’t be intimidated by the tasting and a la carte options. The ingredients are fresh and the appetiser platter (to start with) is a huge hit. Our pick here is the steamed sea bream with Thai herbs and a chilli lime dressing. Old favourites like pad Thai, crab cakes, minced chicken with holy basil and a rainbow of curries like the grilled fish in green curry are sure to hit the spot too.
Where: Ground Level, Palace Downtown; Tel: +971-48883444; Timings: 6 pm to 11:30 pm
Noire (Cuisine: Surprise!)
Dining in the dark is extremely interesting. It is a unique culinary experience where one is cloaked in darkness with no idea of what dish is being served. The complete want and idea behind ‘dining in the dark’ (read pitch black) is the excitement of predicting what one is eating. Noire takes one’s sense of taste and smell to another level. Interestingly you may even find yourself relishing things you don’t like or haven’t tried before. A part earning from the meal goes to Sights Savers, a charity that aids the visually impaired.
Where: Fairmont Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Rd; Tel: +971-43325555; Timings: 7:30pm to 10 pm
Namu (Cuisine: Japanese/Korean)
Set high up in V Hotel, its panoramic windows provide a bird’s eye view of Dubai. The menu is replete of well-thought out dishes and rare ingredients and is divided into sections including Ice (Sashimi), Fire (Grills), Action and Steam. Recommendations go all out for the salmon and avocado maki roll, carefully seasoned with a suggestion of wasabi and Granny Smith apple. The chicken yaki tori with a sticky honeyed sauce is delicious. Another classic order is the Bibimbap. Make sure to add a little extra gochujang sauce. The aromatic seared duck is another must try. To end on a sweet note go for the chocolate mochi, which is indulgent.
Where: Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Rd; Tel: +971-44355577; Timings: 7pm to 12am
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