Oodles of noodles and delicacies at Dubai's best Oriental eateries
Time Out Dubai staff
Winner – Best Chinese
Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2012
Hukama: With tables set a discrete distance apart, elegantly dressed waiting staff and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Burj Khalifa, Hukama exudes a quiet kind of sophistication. The weighty menu blends provincial Chinese cuisine with contemporary fare, and a la carte choices sit opposite a small but perfectly formed selection of dim sum, as well as set menu options ranging from Dhs388 per head to a decadent Dhs888. Portion sizes are on the small side, but surprisingly filling, perhaps because each perfectly balanced dish is bursting with flavour. Hukama is a high-end Chinese dining experience, but with prices to match, it might just be for special occasions only.
Highly Recommended – Best Chinese Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2012
Shang Palace: On a balcony looking down over the Shangri-La’s tastefully appointed lobby, there’s no denying Shang Palace is something of a grand location. Of course, this isn’t any old Chinese restaurant, and the prices on the menu suggest as much. Swap averagely priced, average-tasting Asian fare at one of the city’s chains for Shang Palace and you won’t come away disappointed, even if the atmosphere can feel a little lacking at times and the service somewhat overzealous. Opt for sautéed tenderloin with fresh chilli if you feel like sticking to tried-and-tested favourites, but the delicately poached fish with Szechuan peppercorns is the real showstopper here.
Highly Recommended – Best Chinese
Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2012
The China Club: With muted decor, gentle background music and exquisitely polite service, The China Club feels a world away from Baniyas Street on the other side of the window. Featuring Peking, Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine, the menu is lengthy, but the knowledgeable staff will happily guide you through. To begin, there’s a large and tasty choice of steamed and fried dim sum – otherwise the roasted meat platter of duck, chicken and beef is a perfect appetiser for sharing – the meat succulent and tender, perfectly complemented by a light soy marinade. For mains, don’t miss the double cooked duck that’s crispy and packed full of flavour, while the black cod with spring onion and soya is delicate and melt-in-the-mouth. Well worth a visit.
China Sea: Located just off Deira’s Clock Tower roundabout, this bustling restaurant is popular with Dubai’s resident Chinese community – in fact, you’d probably be hard-pressed to find a more authentic-feeling Chinese eatery. The decor is quirky to say the least, with shimmering red and gold curtains made of plastic chillies and peanuts, wicker furniture, kitsch posters and foliage galore. Avoiding the unethical shark’s fin offerings, the bargain-bucket prices mean you can be adventurous – there’s everything from crispy duck to sea cucumber. The fried crab is literally dripping with flavour, emperor chicken comes piled high and smothered in rich black bean sauce, and for vegetarians there’s a good choice, including moreish deep-fried eggplant in chilli sauce. In short, it’s cheap, cheerful and definitely worth the trip.
Da Shi Dai: Da Shi Dai does most of its business by delivery, so the restaurant is relatively empty at the best of times. Still, the modern decor is welcoming and staff are on the ball and child-friendly.The menu offers dim sum dishes, soups, congee and fried dishes such as mapo tofu, chicken and cashew nuts, as well as rice and noodles – all are fresh and tasty, and portion sizes are particularly reasonable considering the price. There’s also an all-you-can-eat brunch for Dhs88 on Fridays.
Lan Kwai-Fong: With a USP claiming to be ‘THE Chinese restaurant without MSG’, the much-criticised food additive which is abundant in Chinese restaurant fare, Lan Kwai Fong has to up the ante to ensure that its menu is as tasty as its closest rivals. Thankfully, it manages to do this, and then some. Another of the restaurant’s claims to fame is that it serves the best Peking duck in the UAE – so this is a good place to start when ordering. With a half portion more than ample enough for two, it pretty much lives up to the hype – the meat is tender, juicy, flavoursome and oh-so-moreish. Elsewhere on the menu, portions are vast and the dishes well executed. This unassuming restaurant is worth a visit.
Long Yin: While the decor at Long Yin errs on the traditional – think dark woods and bamboo, Buddha statues, lacquered panels and the like – the service is bang up-to-date. In fact, the lengthy grape list is picked from a nifty iPad app, which divides the list into regions, varieties and price ranges to make the choice that little bit easier. Just like the drinks, the dining menu is also packed with choice. Appetisers aren’t exactly a break from the norm – expect favourites such as prawn toast and wonton vegetable soup, both of which are spot on when it comes to taste. The rest of the menu concentrates on Cantonese and Szechwan specialities, and the choice is almost too overwhelming. High points include the Hong Kong-style sweet and sour chicken, which is just sweet and sticky enough without being cloying.
Noble House: The Noble House is a Chinese take on haute cuisine – from small, perfectly presented plates that resemble works of art, to amuse-bouches and palate-cleansing sorbets between courses. Everything is served with a flourish and the imposing decor and incredible views only add to the wow factor. The large menu is equally spectacular, merging traditional Chinese flavours with modern fusion flair. The pan-seared Australian lamb filled with potato and lemongrass BBQ sauce is a particular highlight, while the more classic scallops steamed with Chinese cabbage and garlic soy are perfection on a plate. While the high price tag may mean Noble House is best kept for those special occasions, it’s guaranteed to be one meal you won’t forget in a hurry.
Shanghai Chic: The lobby of Ibn Batutta Gate hotel is certainly impressive, with its high ceilings and hanging Arabic lanterns, but bizarrely the restaurant itself has taken on a strange boudoir design; though modern and clean, it’s more reminiscent of a VIP club than a space for fine dining. The menu contains Western versions of Chinese dishes, but it’s a pleasant surprise to find that they have a few authentic dishes. Xiao long bao, for instance, where the steamed soup dumplings come in the traditional wooden pots with vinegar and chilli, and although the pastry is slightly too thin and you may end up in a sticky mess, the taste transports you to People’s Square in Shanghai.
Zheng He’s: The restaurant’s romantic setting on the waterways of the Madinat, overlooked by the Burj al Arab, makes it a favourite date destination (get a coveted place on the outdoor terrace if weather permits). Inside, the bustling open kitchen takes centre stage, with an atmosphere in the dining room that’s surprisingly hushed, but easy-going. The menu itself ranges from classic to adventurous: the starter of spicy wasabi prawns with mango salsa are a perennial favourite, while avocado kunafa offer a quirky (but very delicious) Eastern twist to a Middle Eastern staple. The dim sum menu is also extensive, and the seafood trio (including egg yolk dumplings and squid ink patties) are particularly well-executed. For the mains, the aromatic crispy duck is a succulent and moreish, while the Chinese spiced beef is seasoned to perfection. Seafood fans will be spoiled for choice, with an extensive fresh selection served by the 100-grams in a sauce of your choosing. Unlike some Chinese eateries, the desserts are worth saving some room for – small, but perfectly formed, the raspberry custard puff is out of this world. And while prices aren’t cheap, Zheng He’s is definitely one to consider if you’re trying to impress your guest.
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Lijuan Ni Feb 25, 2015 02:55 am
Sorry, this restaurant is not as good as it is advertised.
James Jan 29, 2014 04:53 pm
Great place with excellent authentic Cantonese food. Sadly no longer there. Fingers crossed that it will be reincarnated...
Wilford Jan 16, 2014 07:40 pm
The best dimsum in Dubai ever!Dón't come there on Friday without reservation I guaranteed you can't find seats!The China Club has fantastic service as well!
Justine Jun 27, 2012 08:09 pm
For real tasty and cheap Chinese food, take a dive into China cluster at the International City. Loads of awesome choices of authentic Chinese restaurants from home cooking to hotpot to noodles to provincial specialties ... all yet to be discovered by people outside of the local Chinese community. ;)
Julie May 08, 2012 07:28 am
Is there a Chinese restaurant that serves crispy pork?