Though shall have a fishy on a little dishy … or lots of little fishies. Or some very big fishies. Two-thirds of us in the UAE put seafood on our plates at least once a week. But where is the best place for fish fans to order their favourite dish? Here is Time Out’s top 10 seafood restaurants in Dubai …
Even from its Madinat Jumeirah frontage, Pisces has a stylish air and inside doesn’t disappoint either, with a seaside blue colour scheme and soft music. There’s also a scenic outdoor area, protected by palm trees and within smelling-distance of the steakhouse below for meat lovers. Service is excellent; waiters will efficiently brief you on both the specials and any missing menu items, and answer your questions with enthusiasm – rare in Dubai. So what of the food? The pumpkin soufflé is an interesting concoction, an overwhelmingly egg-based appetiser served with mushrooms and goat’s cheese on bread, while the clam chowder boasts balls of caviar for added zing. Of the mains selection, try the swordfish, although you might want to go easy on the accompanying risotto, it's on the right side of rich. The salmon trout with lobster ravioli and vanilla parsnip purée impresses diners the most: it's a well-presented tower of the fish with lobster ravioli and a moat of sauce. You'll clean the dish in record time. One of Dubai’s superior fish eateries; Pisces is a place you’ll leave with a sailor’s smile.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 8888)
Don't take any notice of its less-than-salubrious location, canteen-style decor and staff who will lead you to the impressive display of fresh fish and seafood, you’d be forgiven for feeling lost at sea upon entering this Lebanese-style fish restaurant. but navigating the haul of fresh fish and seafood – appealingly displayed on a bed of ice is worth the trouble for any fish lover. Although the restaurant seem a little intimidating, follow the crowds and take heart from the abundance of noisy families and cheery customers enjoying the down-to-earth vibe and tucking into the free plates of salad, dips and Arabic bread. If you want to play it safe, try ordering the fried hammour and grilled red snapper, as well as some hoummus and mouttabal, all our worthy of your dirhams and time. Although the damp fries leave much to be desired, the succulent hammour is hugged by a light batter and accompanied by a creamy, homemade tartare sauce. The snapper, beautifully presented butterfly-style and delightfully spiced, flakes off and melts in the mouth. Remember, you’re buying the whole fish, so it can work out rather pricey if your dining party has different tastes – best if you work this out ahead of time and agree to share, it’s probably one of the better value seafood restaurants in town.
Oud Metha (04 336 7177)
One of our repeat award winners: oh how we have praised Pierchic for its ability to inject romance into even the most cold-fish of diners – and, talking of fish, we reckon it’s pretty good at cooking them too. However, on our most recent visit, we found a few sticking points: the spectacular view of Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the sparkling Gulf waters, which conjures up the aforementioned romance, is available only to a select few. Be sure to request an outdoor table at the front of the restaurant; if you’re seated towards the back, the tall wooden barriers surrounding the pier mean that you have to strain to peer through the windows. The service can be a little slap-dash too, with more than one waiter assigned to each table, meaning that they lose track of where you’re at with your meal. However, a starter of sea scallops was perfectly cooked, tuna carpaccio melted in the mouth and the halibut main showed off the kitchen’s talents. But the lobster – the jewel in the crown of any seafood restaurant worth its salt – was, while by no means bad, nothing palate-blowing. There’s no denying that Pierchic is still a magical place, but it can’t afford to rest on its laurels, no matter how much we’ve enjoyed it in the past.
Al Qasr Hotel (04 366 6730)
Amwaj: With average hotel decor and an odd positioning that looks out over the lobby, the staff are this seafood spot’s saving grace: they’re knowledgeable and intuitive and have strong opinions on the food (especially on salt, of which they serve varieties from Madagascar, Australia, Washington state and Hawaii). A starter of seared scallops with lemongrass and saffron foam, and a main of salt-crusted sea bass had mixed results. The scallops are on the small side and the accompanying leeks dominates the too-buttery plate, but the sea bass compensated for this: the portion could easily feed two. The waitress wheels the fish out in its salt casing and smashes it open in front of your table – quite a spectacle. The end result is silky, at times a little too salty, but perfectly pleasant when doused in lemon beurre blanc. A mussels starter and a red snapper main course are both palatable but unremarkable. You'll leave satisfied with the service and some of the food, but it might be that Amwaj is past its prime: Dubai’s culinary scene has evolved rapidly in the past few years, we’re not sure it has kept up.
Shangri-La Hotel (04 405 2703)
If a view is what you’re after, you can’t go wrong at Aquara. Set in the Marina Yacht Club, the bar and restaurant offer a sweeping vista of the marina and JBR, which is breathtaking when the sun goes down and the myriad lights from the towers set the water sparkling. It’s the reason Aquara has proved perennially popular with the after-work crowd. If you can tear yourself away from the panorama, the menu is worth a look, focusing on seafood (prawns, black cod, red mullet) with an Asian twist, alongside poultry, steak and a couple of stir-fried dishes. Dishes are, on the whole, competently prepared, presentation is thoughtful and service is attentive and efficient, although the bill can be high. The other gripe is the rather odd, ethereal blue light that illuminates the restaurant: it adds an aquatic, space-age vibe but it won’t do much for your head.
Dubai Marina (04 362 7900)
This Creek-side spot is a reliable favourite for those who like seafood with a Pacific twist. With panoramic views across the creek to Dubai’s skyline, and a circular aquarium as the centrepiece (which has now, however, been dwarfed by the city’s newer and flashier fish tanks), Aquarium is indeed a lovely place to be – but it’s the quality of the food that lingers. Serving a wide selection of seafood, and a few dishes for fish-fearing folk, the restaurant’s focus is on the fresh and varied flavours of the Pacific rim. The Japanese sashimi is always fresh, and the sushi sandwiches oh-so-moreish, while the Singaporean barramundi laksa offers perfectly flaky fillets with just-cooked-enough julienne vegetables and a hearty broth. The signature dishes play with lobster. The starter of lobster ravioli offers three pieces of pasta flavoured differently, by basil, pineapple and almond, but these unusual tastes don’t have much punch and the heavy lobster bisque dominates. The classic lobster thermidor, however, is delicious, and the meat cooked perfectly, although the sides of rice and vegetables are underwhelming. All that said, we’ve never been served something we’ve disliked at Aquarium and every dish has merit, thanks to strong broths and delicate flavours. Make sure to phone ahead before your visit and find out about their seasonal (and very affordable) set menus.
Deira (04 295 6000)
Looks can be deceiving. Hidden away behind Jumeirah Beach, in the corner of Dubai’s fishermen's village, Bu Qtair looks more like an abandoned nursery. The only hint that this tiny shack could be a restaurant is a few multi-coloured kids' stools littered around the low plastic table. Bu Qtair doesn’t have a phone number for calling ahead to book, or even a toilet, but it does serve some of the freshest fish in the Middle East – so fresh, in fact, that the menu changes every day, depending on the catch. The choice isn’t extensive (and there’s certainly no dainty dessert or coffee on offer) but the portions are insanely enormous and it's all delicious.The gigantic snapper is the most common catch. It comes battered, and lightly spiced with cumin, and still has its eyes intact – which won’t float everyone’s boat but they really are well worth a try. Boiled rice, paratha bread and succulent, thoroughly addictive prawns are also available as sides. You can eat in or use Bu Qtair to stock up your freezer for the month. Most people do the latter. It is really more a fish-market than a restaurant and, while prices have gone up recently, it still doesn’t disappoint. Bu Qtair is no-frills seafood at its authentic best.
This light and airy spot is a solid choice for a seafood meal. Upon arrival at the classy but not overdone restaurant, you’ll be given the choice of sitting inside in the cosy interior, or outside on the glassed-in smoking terrace. There's a menu for starters and platters only, and one that focuses on Asian flavours – you choose your mains at the live seafood counter. The waiters recommend the rich crab cakes with an avocado accompaniment, but the aromatic, cockle-filled tom yum (which is plenty for two, most portions here being mammoth) is always a favourite. Then revel in choosing your fish in whichever way you want it. You won't be disappointed. Opt for a sharing platter, which is piled ridiculously high with lobster, prawns, mussels and scallops – a true smorgasbord. While the restaurant is not cheap, it has plenty of deals (like the classic Monday night all-you-can-eat mussels and fries), which are very affordable and worth investigating.
Wafi (04 324 4100)
Sublime is the word that best describes an evening at Ossiano. Considering what an achievement it is for a chef to gain three Michelin stars for a restaurant – not to mention just how few three-star restaurants there are in the world – it’s easy to appreciate why a meal here will set you back a small fortune. Guests are treated like royalty, an attitude that is reflected by the interior design of the restaurant. One wall of the dimly-lit interior is occupied entirely by an aquarium, which accentuates the venue’s tranquility. We heartily recommend the tasting menu, which plays on the tastes and textures of Catalan cuisine, and takes diners on an unforgettable gastronomical journey. In short: Chef Santi Santamaria’s first restaurant outside Spain is a pure delight.
Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626)
Peppercrab is a tranquil dining experience (unless you happen to be a crab or any other sea creature), where guests get to pick their dinner from tanks cruelly located within eyeshot of the kitchen. The staff proved to be most attentive, not to mention well-versed in the menu’s extensive offerings. They are also good enough to answer rapid-fire enquiries and will humour requests for extra servings of the (excellent) complimentary prawn crackers. For mains, the black-pepper mud crab is cooked to perfection and finished in a well balanced black-pepper sauce, and the delicious wok-fried Singaporean noodles satisfies with large, juicy shrimps. Other than the extensive seafood selection, try the skewers of beef, lamb and chicken accompanied by a tasty satay sauce. The sizeable dish could be split between two, leaving enough room for you to tuck into shrimp and vegetable spring rolls too. Conclude the meal with lemongrass jelly and lemon sorbet, and a fruit salad platter served on a bed of ice. The lemongrass jelly is full of zippy, tangy flavour, and the fresh fruit platter will leave you feeling refreshed and sated.
Grand Hyatt Dubai (04 317 2222)
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Andy Jul 26, 2011 05:34 am
Pisces has a very delicious menu. Having been there three times, I'd say it sits high up on the list. It is quite posh and pricey (last time was a few years ago though). A dinner with drinks for 2 set me back nearly 1K AED - on two separate occasions! That said, your date feels perfectly spoiled with the seemingly endless course meals (I counted 6 servings one night). Service is exceptional and the food tastes its price. Dubai has far too many good eateries to keep going back to the same one. This restaurant is worth a visit, but make sure it's a special visit.
Charmaine Jul 23, 2011 07:13 am
You might as well include the Fareast Seafood Market in Regent Palace Hotel, Bur Dubai opposite Burjuman.
We had dinner on a buffet set-up a week ago and highly recommended is the prawn cocktail. I also love the dried garlic prawn. (Well, cause I love prawn). My friend had a baby shark. For the price of 295 it includes unlimited wine and 249 without. The seafood choices i quite a lot and staffs help you our with your choices even recommending how its cooked.
The interior design is of arabic and the counter is quite huge figuring out its only a desk for the payments instructions since there was no high chairs that could be a bar. Once you step into the restaurant, you will walk pass through a small aquarium underneath where you step into it..
Food is great and staffs are friendly.
sabika Jun 21, 2011 10:38 am
thanks for letting us know the best sea food in dubai