We remember fondly our favourite feeds of the past year
If you are what you eat, then the Time Out team are multicultural at best and schizophrenic at worst. Last week, for example, we started out Lebanese, then turned Chinese (via Japan), before becoming American, then French, only to turn Italian at the weekend. If we were to take the ‘you are what you eat’ analogy a step further, we could have a go at being more or less every animal, mineral and vegetable under the sun.
Yes, this dining derring-do can be disorienting, at times disappointing, but on the whole our culinary shape-shifting proves to be a great deal of fun, allowing us to get a real taste (both literally and figuratively) of the city’s diversity. As with any journey, we’ve been fortunate to pick up a few fond memories over the past year, namely certain dishes that we find ourselves thinking about in times of hunger, boredom or any time in between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner. So, we’ve compiled 25 dishes that have stuck in our collective memories over the past year, which you can now sample for yourself.
Hen’s egg at Table 9 Table 9 is the most exciting restaurant to open in Dubai for ages: it’s exclusive to Dubai, rather than another big-name chain. The food is breathtakingly original, particularly the oozing, deep-fried hen’s egg surrounded by cepes, vinegar and caramel. We forgot we were in a classy establishment and ended up mopping it up with our fingers. Dhs70. Hilton Dubai Creek, Baniyas Road, Deira (04 227 1111).
Yorkshire pudding wrap at 1762 It wasn’t until we visited 1762 that we found Yorkshire pudding worth writing about. This particular incarnation comes in wrap form, with rosy pink roast beef and horseradish tucked cosily inside. Not only is it inventive, it’s remarkably delicious. Dhs35. 1762, DIFC (800 1762).
Pani puris at D’fusion Best described as an explosion of flavours, D’fusion’s unique take on the humble pani puri – a bite-sized fried-bread staple from Mumbai – is given a surprising (alcoholic) twist with the addition of Russia’s finest. It’s tangy, bitter, sweet and spicy all at the same time. Dhs35. Grandeur Hotel, Barsha (04 341 8777).
‘O’ style hotate at Okku A new addition to Okku’s long-revered Japanese menu, but one that instantly caught our attention, the ‘O’ style hotate – seared scallops with figs in a truffle-wafu goma – is a wonderfully adventurous and original dish that teases and tantalises while it satiates and satisfies. Dhs120. The Monarch Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 501 8777).
Whatchamacallit rolls at ET Sushi This fat chunk of sushi love is closer to lasagne than traditional raw fish rolled in rice. But don’t be fooled by appearances – these crab, avocado and crunchy tempura rolls are topped with paper-thin slices of lightly seared wagyu beef and covered in a tangy mayonnaise, made to look like melting cheese. And while this might be an assault on aesthetic senses, it’s wonderfully pleasing to the palate. Dhs72. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 319 8088).
Bakmi goreng at Noodle House Thick, cylindrical noodles covered in dark, sweet, sticky soy sauce, juicy prawns, chicken and green vegetables. We love this dish because it tastes closer to Malaysian mi goreng than any other we’ve tried in Dubai. Dhs52. Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 319 8088).
Chapli kebabs at Rupee Room What they may lack in looks, these minced mutton kebabs more than make up for in taste. They’re just the right side of hot, and the spices are married together with brilliance. Bite in and you’ll find the soft, meaty texture is broken up by the crunch of pomegranate seeds. Yes, pomegranate. Delicious. Dhs48. The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence (04 390 5755).
Bean paste hot pot at Sonamu In our opinion, Sonamu is one of the best Korean restaurants in town. Yes, it’s pricier than some, but it’s licensed, meaning it can serve pork (and alcohol), and as a result the food is some of the most authentic you’ll find. The bean-paste hot pot is a highlight – hearty, filling and an explosion of flavour. Dhs60. Asiana Hotel, Salahuddin Road, Deira (04 238 7777).
Hakka steamed dim sum platter at Hakksan Hakkasan did for dim sum what Nobu did for Japanese food (made it a favourite among upwardly mobile city folk), and the hakka dim sum platter reminds us why. Six plump parcels of scallop shumai, har gau, prawn and Chinese chive dumpling, and black pepper duck dumpling are served piping hot and screaming with fresh ingredients. Judging by the Hakka platter, Hakkasan is still setting the standard for dim sum across the globe. Dhs95. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 384 8484).
Pain bagnat at 101 This Niçoise salad starter isn’t the most artful item on 101’s menu, but it’s one of the tastiest. The soft bread, tuna, radish, tomato, anchovy and quail egg is a frighteningly fresh combination; its only downfall is that it’s so generously proportioned, it takes a real appetite to go on to conquer your mains. Dhs70. 101, One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 440 1010).
Prosciutto and ricotta tortellini at Medzo We’re told that the prosciutto di Parma used in this traditional pasta dish is cured for 16 months with salt, which may go some way towards explaining its mild and delicate taste. Likewise, the tortellini is hand-made with fresh ingredients, meaning you can really taste the difference. Dhs62. Medzo, Wafi (04 324 4100).
Zafrani tikka at Aangan Tender, moist chunks of chicken are lovingly coated not just in cream, but also in saffron, for a taste that’s perfected after being grilled in the tandoor. One bite of this and you’ll forget all about your loyalty to chicken tikka. Dhs49. Dhow Palace Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 359 9992).
Picadillo empanadas at Toro Toro Effectively beef samosas, the picadillo empanadas are heavenly pastry pillows enclosing ground beef that bristles with spicy goodness and soft potato chunks. If Toro Toro were to only serve this single dish, we’d still go there. Dhs75. Grosvenor House Tower Two, Dubai Marina (04 399 8888).
Chargrilled octopus salad at Après We like a cephalopod here at Time Out, and we’re yet to find grilled octopus to match Après’ concoction. The best part about this generously-sized tentacle, served atop a small mound of Greek salad, is they don’t mess with it – the dish is mercifully free of sticky sauces and pointless foams. A simple squeeze of lemon and you’re away. Dhs55. Mall of the Emirates, Barsha (04 341 2575).
White fish tiradito at Nobu Forget miso black cod: Nobu’s latest stroke of genius comes in the form of white fish marinated in lemon juice and yuzu, garnished with coriander, a spot of spicy rocoto and a sprinkle of soy sauce-flavoured salt – a mind-blowing contrast of taste and textures. Dhs80. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Pan-fried scallops with truffle and asparagus at BiCE Mare Unlike the scallops at some places we’ve tried, BiCE Mare serves up a plate of whole molluscs – not just slithers. Expertly cooked, they’re flash-fried for a slightly crispy exterior, maintaining a smooth texture throughout with just the right amount of give. Served atop steamed asparagus and topped with slices of dark truffle, the finishing touch comes when a special olive oil is drizzled over the top at your table. Bellissimo! Dhs105. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 423 0982).
Salmon fishcakes at The Ivy Say what you will about Dubai’s insistence on replicating London restaurants, but we’re just glad the classic salmon fishcakes have been expertly recreated at The Ivy in Emirates Towers. The potato cakes infused with poached salmon are wonderfully enhanced by the rich sorrel sauce and peppery spinach. Dhs95. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 319 8767).
Sweet potato casserole at Ruth’s Chris Steak House This creamy, comforting side dish comprises whipped sweet potato and butter, topped with a generous crust of pecans and brown sugar (we’ve almost been tempted to order it as a dessert, it’s that good). When served with one of Ruth’s Chris’s signature steaks, the mix of super-sweet and savoury will kick-start your taste buds – it’s almost like the food equivalent of a big, warm hug. Just don’t think about the calories. Dhs29. The Monarch Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 501 8666).
Truffle soup at Jones the Grocer You’ll be confronted by a plump, shiny dome of perfectly baked pastry (it’s crisp and soft all at once), under which sits a fragrant, full-bodied truffle soup that proves the perfect remedy for these ‘freezing’ winter nights. Dhs35. Al Manara, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 346 6886).
Parmesan fries at 360˚ Highbrow it ain’t, but this doesn’t mean that something as delicious as these cheesy chips should be overlooked in circumstances like this. Golden fries sprinkled generously with aromatic parmesan prove the perfect sustenance for a night of mixed drinks and chill-out music. Dhs60. Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 406 8744).
Desserts Apple tart at Pavilion Café This intricately wrought apple pie (well, more of a strudel, actually) is served alongside wonderfully refreshing saffron-infused ice cream, and makes for a delightful conclusion to a meal at one of the most refreshing and interesting venues to have opened in the past year. Highly recommended. Dhs25. Emaar Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 447 7025).
Crème brûlée at La Petite Maison Rich, creamy yet effortlessly light, this divine dish exemplifies the beauty of simple, carefully prepared food. A great way in which to conclude an evening of fine Niçoise fare. Dhs50. DIFC (04 439 0505).
Monkey cake at The Lime Tree Café We went bananas over Lime Tree’s Monkey Cake, naming it Best Cake in Dubai after eating our way through as many baked goods as humanly possible back in August. It’s bananary, creamy and chocolatey all at once – and it doesn’t contain monkeys. Hooray! Dhs24 per slice. Various locations including Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 8498).
New York cheesecake at Dean & DeLuca This may be a well-known dish, but you haven’t tried New York cheesecake until you’ve sampled Dean & Deluca’s version. The ‘cheese’ is creamy, yet not too rich, and the deliciously crumbly base is even better than a digestive biscuit. Praise indeed. Dhs23 per slice. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 420 0336).
Caramel and hazelnut brownies at Circle We’re ashamed to say that we’re addicted to these ridiculously rich, choc-heavy, yet oh-so-enjoyable brownies – the nutty texture and oozing caramel are heavenly. However, we’d recommend that you share an order between at least four people (they’re a lot richer than they look). Dhs22. Various locations including Beach Park Plaza Centre, Jumeirah (04 342 8177).
…and the three weirdest The foodstuffs that have raised eyebrows this year
Banana ketchup It’s red, you eat it with chicken, but it tastes like banana. There’s something weirdly wonderful – and distinctly exotic – about banana ketchup. What’s more, it’s really rather good. We just can’t figure out how they made it red, but perhaps some things are better left unknown. Free with your dish. Max’s Restaurant, Trade Centre Road, Bur Dubai (04 325 7797).
Cheese ice cream To paraphrase The Simpsons: cheese and ice cream – together at last! Whoever thought of combining these two dairy products should be arrested for crimes against cuisine. But then, who are we to judge? There’s obviously a market for the stuff, because buckets line the frozen food aisles of Al Maya. The humanity! Dhs30. Al Maya, various locations, www.almayagroup.com.
Stir-fried ostrich Don’t get us wrong: this dish, served at super-cool Chinese restaurant Hakkasan, is pretty good – the meat is lean and slightly gamey, and the yellow-bean sauce adds flavour. But, as we mentioned in our review, we can’t figure out how an ostrich found its way onto a Chinese menu. Dhs185. Hakkasan, Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 384 8484).
Mark your calendars, here are the dates to remember this year
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The 5 percent tax on goods and services is now here
Luxury Bulgari resort opens in Dubai
Private villas, suites, beaches, restaurants and more come to Jumeira Bay
Stranger Things milkshake arrives at Dubai’s Black Tap
Eggos and edible Christmas tree lights feature in latest freakshake
Fathima Mahomedy Jan 21, 2012 06:00 pm
I know this response may be a month too old but i'll be in Dubai in a week's time and I'm looking to try halaal gourmet food or possibly visit a Michelin star restaurant or one of very high quality. Any suggestions?
rasha Jan 09, 2012 11:59 am
there's resturant in marina called SALSA mexican resturant it's great i try it twice,fried buttered fish filiet is the best ,thier prices around 60-90 dhs but very large plate and more than enough portion,some meales com already with additions, they give free nachoos on each table.
Labiba Laith Dec 26, 2011 12:54 am
Probably the only good thing on the menu in addition to the lentil soup... otherwise the only good thing that the pavilion is there for is it being a beautiful venue with versatile uses. Food and Service is what stopped me from trying to find any redeeming traits within.. shame. But I found a substitute and it's called Park Central on Sheikh Zayed road
Labiba Laith Dec 26, 2011 12:49 am
That's so true! it's like you were sitting with us! I was taken to Ruth's for my birthday this past October and besides the fabulous friends that I am blessed with, two things shone though, this gobsmackingly delicious dish that I'd wanted as a dessert after enjoying it as a side with my steak and the impeccable service. Thank you Ruth's manager and team for an unforgettable experience
Julia Dec 23, 2011 05:43 am
Putting a picture of a cute ostrich with his eyes wide open is not the best way to start my appetite. Well done Time out.