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Dubai’s Food Scene May Be Lagging A Bit

by The Travel Captain


Dubai’s food scene is emerging but it certainly hasn’t emerged.  I can remember only a handful of truly memorable dining experiences in the emirate after having lived here eight years.  And I’ve been to my fair share of restaurants.  I’m talking strictly food, not the jubilant ambiance at a boozy champagne brunch or a fun filled night with friends over dinner, just the “Oh my God, this is so delicious” food.  There always seems to be something amiss at one of the newest imported food chains or latest celebrity chef restaurants and even at the long running eateries claiming to be Chinese yet somehow bowls of their Schezwan noodles come mysteriously laden with curry powder and cloves with the only chefs to be seen in the kitchen Indian.

Don’t get me wrong, there is tasty food to be had and I’ve certainly enjoyed many plates of succulent kebabs and satisfying  mana’eesh not to mention a good helping of yummy chicken tikka and samosas at the smaller South Asian eateries in Bur Dubai. However, my opinion differs when it comes to the other international cuisines served.  I’m not sure if it’s due to the lack of experience by the new chef and or sous chef who has suddenly been given carte blanch to run his/her own decked out kitchen or that something gets lost in the flavor and freshness of certain ingredients when exposed to 30,000 feet of altitude in an airplane cargo.  We won’t rule out that it could be my finicky palate but, let’s be honest, all reviews are prone to subjectiveness.

The prices at these establishments help add insult to injury.  Burgers and pizza priced at 70 dirhams ($20) or more is a common occurrence around town, barring fast food chains, even at the most casual of places.  $20 for a burger!  Dinner for two at a mid tier to higher end outlet is no less than 300-400 dirhams ($81-127) excluding alcohol.  And I cannot tell you how many times the bill has reached at least 700 dirhams for two at a restaurant in a hotel which might include a couple of glasses of wine.  Its perfectly normal to have an inspiring meal with a bottle of wine in every other major cosmopolitan city where I’ve lived or visited for much less than $100.  Not in Dubai though.  The truth is I love it here but hope that the competition between the multitude of restaurants sprouting up here actually coalesce into a true foodie heaven in Dubai’s food scene one day soon.  I have faith.

I’ll give you a run down of some of the more memorable dining experiences over the last year.  Its not really fair to provide comments on eateries going back further than that.

Best fine dining in Dubai’s Food Scene

  1. Le Classique – Emirates Golf Club (French)
  2. Pier Chic – Al Qasr, Jumeirah Madinat (Seafood)
  3. Stay by Chef Yannick – One & Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah

Huge Disappointments

  1. Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar – JW Marriott Marquis (Fusion indian restaurant from the famed chef)
  2. Bushman’s Restaurant & Bar – Anantara, Palm Jumeirah (Australian Steakhouse)
  3. Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay – Atlantis, Palm Jumeriah (I hope its teething issues because it was pretty bad)
  4. Rosa Mexicana – The Dubai Mall (does not do the original chain or Mexican food any justice)

International Eateries to Check Out

  • Taste of Italy by Heinz Beck – Galleria Mall, Al wasl Road (Italian, authentic and wonderful.  A new favorite. Don’t come here if you eat at Pizza Hut or think spaghetti with meatballs is Italian. The duck spec is delicious and they have multiple stations to pick up artisan items from and bring home which I definitely do, featured image above)
  • Alto Mar Restaurant – Jumeirah Fishing Harbor (Portuguese, Mediterranean… try the octopus)
  • Certo – Radisson Blu Hotel, Media City (Italian, try the pizza with parma ham and rocket or ravioli with braised beef in cream spinach sauce)
  • Cocktail Kitchen – Armada Cluster, Jumeirah Lake Towers (European, try their mushroom risotto arancini and duck dishes as well as cocktails of course)
  • Organic Foods & Cafe – Various Locations (serving up healthy and delicious organic dishes every day. I order/get my groceries from here most weekends)
  • Innlay Asia – Jumeriah Lake Towers (Asian: Burmese, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese.  Great casual eatery and perfect for take out/delivery)

P.S. I just had the yummiest mana’eesh ever at Forno Plus in Tecom yesterday.  Trio cheese mana’eesh was delectable.

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