Tastiest meals that have tickled Time Out’s taste buds in 2012
The year is drawing to a close and, as December 31 approaches, our minds turn to the most memorable moments of the past 12 months. In edible terms, expansion and exceptional variety continue to dominate Dubai’s food scene: there are at least 55 different types of cuisine listed on timeoutdubai.com, and this year alone we’ve enjoyed dishes from Jebel Ali to Al Qusais, and from Michelin-starred chefs to hole-in-the-wall haunts. Hereare the results of our eating marathon: a hotlist of our 101 favourites dishes of the year, spanning appetisers, main courses, desserts and late-night snacks, listed in alphabetical order. We hope you’re hungry…
Aloo tikki at Zafran Laced with coriander, each of these three potato cakes has a menthol-like freshness that gives way to a pleasant chilli kick. Dhs20. Dubai Marina Mall (04 399 7357).
Asparagus and bresaola breakfast bagel at Circle Circle’s toasted bagels are topped with bresaola, poached eggs and tender asparagus, and smothered in thick béarnaise. Order the sweet potato fries on the side if you’re extra hungry. Dhs48. Media City (04 391 5170); Beach Park Plaza, Jumeirah (04 342 8177).
Beef carpaccio at BiCE A classic carpaccio: layers of raw beef, thinner than wafers and melt-in-the-mouth tender, are combined with a little parmesan and rocket. Dhs90. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, Dubai Marina (04 399 1111).
Billy McNeill beef pie at Dubliners No frills, no pretensions: just a massive slab of meaty goodness. Desperate Dan would be proud to finish what must still be one of Dubai’s defiantly huge portions. Dhs50. Le Méridien Dubai, Garhoud (04 217 0000).
Black cod yuzu miso at Nobu Yes, we know everyone and their mum is a fan of this dish, but we still can’t resist it. The fish is superbly soft, and the sauce sticky and sweet. Dhs185. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Burger rebel sliders at Burger Rebel These signature mini burgers are stuffed with tender slices of beef tongue, accompanied by a fresh, vibrant horseradish cream. Dhs35. Wafi, Oud Metha (04 324 4252).
Chicken mughlai at Ravi’s Bypass the ubiquitous butter chicken and try this instead: a divinely creamy on-the-bone mild curry with shaved egg topping. Dhs20. Satwa Road, Satwa (04 331 5353).
Chocolate and Butternut squash consommé at Nomad An off-menu and impromptu beauty, offering a deconstructed recreation of chocolate mousse in a savoury context. Price on request. Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Garhoud (04 230 8555).
Crispy fried squid at Zuma It’s rare to find such perfectly tender squid, especially with such consistency. The crisp peppery coating and a squeeze of fresh lime makes Zuma’s take on the dish among the best we’ve tried. Dhs60. DIFC (04 425 5660).
Curry fish at Bu Qtair The day’s catch is slathered in curry spices and fried, served with rice or paratha. Some of Dubai’s freshest fish. From Dhs80 for large fish (priced according to weight and species). 11a Street, off Beach Road: turn right after McDonald’s, Umm Suqeim (no number).
Eggs Benedict at Boulevard café The home-made muffins and a well-seasoned hollandaise sauce – mixed to just the right consistency – make this dish a delight. Dhs40. Al Manzil Hotel, Downtown Dubai (04 428 5888).
Escargots at Traiteur One of Traiteur’s most enduring signature dishes, the escargots never fail to delight. The tender, never-chewy morsels are cooked until caramelised, then drowned in a garlicky sauce that’s mopped up with crusty bread. Dhs60. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 602 1234).
Fish and chips at Rivington Grill Crispy battered fish, perfectly cooked chunky chips and deliciously mushy peas combine for a traditional British treat. Dhs125. Souk Al Bahar (04 423 0903).
Foie gras burger at Rhodes Twenty10 There’s no bun: instead you get a ridiculously succulent minced steak patty atop a slice of roast confit potato, crowned with some beautifully wobbly foie gras. Dhs165. Le Royal Méridien, Dubai Marina (04 399 5555).
15 Forest mushroom crème brûlée at Blue Flame The creamy, eggy texture meets a rich and earthy umami thwack of flavour that transports you to damp, autumnal woodlands. Dhs25. Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Garhoud (04 230 8580).
Guacamole tacos At Taqado Mexican Kitchen Great textured tacos with a beautiful crunch, stuffed with exceptionally fresh-flavoured and creamy home-made guacamole. Dhs26. Mall of the Emirates, Barsha (04 385 1171).
Lemongrass chicken shawarma at The Palace café Sample a light and wholesome update on this Arabian classic, with the lively flavour of lemongrass and plenty of crisp, fresh vegetables. Dhs55. The Old Town, Downtown Dubai (04 428 7890).
Les grandes desserts at Reflets by Pierre Gagnaire An ever-changing dessert platter of seven dishes, featuring everything from palate-teasing experiments (rocket leaves and cherry compote) to indulgent classics (a traditional opera cake). Dhs105. InterContinental Dubai Festival City (04 701 1111).
New York Cheesecake at Dean and Deluca A layer of crumbly biscuit supports a thick topping of rich cheesecake, drenched in fruity sauce. Dhs28. The Dubai Mall (04 330 8969).
Organic brown rice masala dosa at Balance Café This great-value breakfast comprises an enormous crisp pancake filled with carrot, tomato and coconut chutney and a side order of a bracing lentil stew, known as sambhar. Dhs14. Oasis Centre, Al Quoz (04 515 4051).
Pepper crab at Peppercrab Tuck into a huge pile of crab claws, legs and body covered in a thick pepper sauce, served with a marvellously moreish mountain of mantou (fried bread rolls). We guarantee you’ll still be mopping up the sauce long after the crab shells have been sucked clean of the meat. Dhs75 per kg. Grand Hyatt, Oud Metha (04 317 2222).
Poffertjes at Little More Ultra-addictive mini pancakes from a traditional Dutch recipe. Perfect for sharing, the fluffy little spheres come with honey, chocolate and vanilla sauce. Dhs25. Little More, Dubai Marina Mall (04 432 4608).
Raffaele pizza at Rossovivo An award-winning and imaginative creation comprising mozzarella, cream, pistachio, bresaola and basil on an excellent base. Dhs45. Millennium Tower, Business Bay, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 380 5833).
Red cheong fun at Homey’s This unusual variation of a Cantonese classic is a visual delight of coral red rice flour, stuffed with prawns and crisp fried dough. Dhs28. Gold Crest View 1, JLT (04 431 7106).
Rock shrimp burger at Sweet Brasil A light and tropical mix in burger form: sweet prawn flesh is combined with juicy mango and plenty of coriander. Dhs55. Al Seef 2 Tower, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (050 873 8980).
Saltwater trout tiradito at Gaucho We can’t get enough of this light, salty raw fish dish, seasoned with lively chilli, onion and zesty guacamole. Dhs55. Gate Village, DIFC (04 422 7898).
Seafood platter at Amwaj An impressive selection for two to share, where each item (especially the lobster) is exceptionally well-prepared. Dhs480. Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 405 2703).
Smoked haddock hash at Alfie’s A comforting, rich mix of earthy, smoky fish haddock flakes, served with buttery potato and topped with a gooey poached egg. Dhs76. Jumeirah Emirates Towers Boulevard (04 319 8785).
Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli at Make Business Hub Made with fresh, tasty ingredients, this pasta dish is light and delicious. Dhs45. Al Fattan Towers, Dubai Marina (04 392 9216).
Steamed cod at VÔi A surprisingly tasty sweet-and-savoury twist on the more common black cod and miso. Dhs195. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (04 453 0444).
Sweet chilli crab cakes at Aprons and Hammers A generous amount of crab fills these tasty cakes. Full of flavour on their own, you hardly need to bother with the sweet sauce on the side. Dhs55. Dubai International Marine Club, Mina Seyahi (04 454 7097).
Surf and turf barbecue at Wavebreaker All barbecues should be like this: located on the beach, with fantastic seafood and meat piled high, a setting sun and a cool breeze. A laid-back gem of a meal. Dhs179. Hilton Jumeirah, The Walk at JBR (04 399 1111).
Thali at Rajdhani An intensely flavoursome selection of vegetarian curries that just keep coming, until you beg the waiters to stop. Dhs29. Rolla Street, Bur Dubai (04 393 4433).
Tofu claypot at Hakkasan Thanks to the brilliantly prepared and velvet-like tofu, this dish manages to be authentic yet also innovative. Dhs55. Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 384 8484).
Turkish breakfast (sucuklu yumurta) at Kosebasi Not for the health-conscious, this hearty fry-up of spicy sausage and eggs, served with basket-fulls of bread, is a great start to the weekend – especially if you’re a little tender from the night before. Dhs34. The Walk at JBR, www.kosebasi.com (04 439 3788).
Tutti not frutti cupcake at Hey Sugar Bakeshop Our favourite cupcake: moist sponge in psychedelic swirls, topped with plenty of fluffy vanilla buttercream icing. Dhs14. Village Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road (800 439 78427).
Wagyu beef burger at Jones the Grocer Generous amounts of fat from the marbled wagyu beef mince deliver rich, buttery flavour and a melt-in-the-mouth texture. The meat is complemented by the sweet brioche bun and caramelised onions. A truly harmonious experience. Dhs69, plus Dhs6 for caramelised onions. Sheikh Zayed Road (04 346 6886).
101Yuki hoe at Koreana This steak tartare-style dish features tender raw beef with crunchy sliced apple and garlic pieces. Dhs60. Sheikh Zayed Road, Barsha (04 392 9918).
Apple crumble pie at Jones the Grocer A sweet, sticky combination of sugar, apple and cinnamon hides under a crumbly coating, supported by a layer of shortcrust pastry beneath. Dhs18 (single portion), Dhs115 (large portion). Sheikh Zayed Road (04 346 6886).
Badshah’s Delight at Peppermill This inventive chicken dish blends apricots, cheddar, bell peppers and spice braised in a curry sauce. The resulting gravy is wonderfully aromatic, and contains a surprise in every mouthful. Dhs45. Lulu Hypermarket, Barsha (04 354 9166).
Barbecue chicken pizza at Sandella’s For satisfying stodge, this rectangular pizza is a winner. It’s coated in good-quality chicken with generous dollops of barbecue sauce. Dhs30. The Springs (04 422 2770).
Beef burger at Organic Foods and Café The patty is seasoned with just enough black pepper to lift the flavour of the fresh, organic beef, and the garnish within is crisp and fresh. Dhs38. The Dubai Mall (04 434 0577).
Beef cheeks at Rivington Grill This meltingly tender beef is braised in an intensely tasty gravy. It’s a regular fixture on Rivington’s specials board and is served with seasonal veg, but we’d recommend ordering a side of chunky chips to mop up all the juice. From Dhs150. Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6464).
Butter chicken at Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor We heartily recommend this tangy, cardamom-flavoured take on the traditional butter chicken. Dhs85. Meliá Dubai, Bur Dubai (04 386 8111).
Cheese manakish at Al Hallab A guilty pleasure that we can’t help craving. There’s not much to it other than fistfuls of cheese stuffed inside piping hot soft white bread, but we don’t care. Dhs6. Garhoud (04 282 3388).
Chicken pho at Hanoi A hearty bowl of classic Vietnamese broth with noodles is accompanied by fresh herbs and beansprouts, staying true to tradition. Dhs29. Goldcrest Executive Towers, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 431 3099).
Chocolate samosas at Indego by vineet One of Vineet Bhatia’s signature twists on Indian cuisine, these chocolate samosas are crunchy and rich, yet not too sweet. A great end to a meal – especially with a cup of chai. Dhs75. Grosvenor House Dubai (04 399 8888).
Churros con helado de café at Al Hambra Sample a Spanish deep-fried pastry coated in sugar, served here with rich coffee ice cream. Forget anything you may have heard about tapas being for sharing and indulge your sweet tooth. Dhs45. Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
Coastal chicken at Eric’s A vibrantly fragrant Goan chicken dish with tender meat, tangy curry leaves and nutty sesame. Dhs20. B-2 Sheikh Hamdan Colony, near BurJuman, Karama (04 396 5080).
Crushed roast potatoes at Baker & Spice Included as a side dish with selected main courses for the perfect blend of fluffy potato, exterior crunch and subtle seasoning. Mains from Dhs88. Souk Al Bahar (04 425 2240).
Dim sum at Da Shi Dai Authentic, light, bite-sized delights, full of flavour and home-made to boot. From Dhs22. Murjan, JBR (04 426 4636).
Duck liver mousse paté at Belgian Beer Café Fans of light, airy paté will die for this mousse dish with a whipped texture. Simultaneously creamy and peppery, with a rich meaty flavour, it’s juxtaposed perfectly against the accompanying caramelised onions. Available at brunch: Dhs190 (soft drinks). Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 447 0227).
Dynamite rolls at Honyaki Sample these artful mosaics of caviar, eel, sticky rice and wasabi. Dhs25. Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
Egg and cheese meshaltit at Zaroob This deliciously doughy, pillowy bread is stuffed with either savoury or sweet fillings – it’s impossible to stop nibbling. Dhs22. Sheikh Zayed Road (04 327 6060).
Eggplant burger at XVA Café The patty is served with crunchy, thick-cut aubergine instead of bread, providing a unique, delicious take on the humble burger. Dhs30. Bastakiya (04 353 5988).
Fish molee at Mama’s The vibrant green colour meets a delicate balance of sweet, sour and aromatic flavour in this Keralan fish curry. Try it with the super-soft, cobwebby appam breads. Dhs25. Khalid Bin Al Waleed Road, Bur Dubai (04 386 0701).
57 Garrett’s gourmet popcorn at The Works This connoisseurs’ popcorn is in a different league. Available for home delivery in massive tins up to 6.5 gallons, it’s smothered in crunchy brown sugar and caramel, which you can have on its own, or with cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts or pecans. From Dhs20 (38g). The Dubai Mall (04 330 8614).
Ginger and lime crunch at the Lime Tree CafÉ A lovely, zesty sweet treat, with an excellent biscuit-to-icing ratio. Dhs16 per slice. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 8498).
Goat’s cheese and eggplant salad at More More akin to a baked melanzane dish than a salad, this tempting arrangement of spinach, tomatoes, parmesan, goat’s cheese and blue cheese is drizzled with a pesto vinaigrette, and goes perfectly with a slice of crusty bread. Dhs57. Various locations including Gold & Diamond Park, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 323 4350).
Green chilli pineapple at Zuma A tart sorbet-style dessert with real fruit pieces that packs some punch. Dhs38. Zuma, DIFC (04 425 5660).
Hot pot at Xiao Wei Yang Hotpot A fun, authentic Chinese hotpot with all sorts of great ingredients – some more unusual than others. Price dependent on ingredients. Baniyas Road, Deira (04 221 5111).
Iranian Sweets at Abshar Sweet Shop Prepared in-store, the baklava is one of the seriously addictive choices at this traditional sweet shot. From Dhs20 for 12 baklava. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 394 1397).
Jaffa cake pudding at Rhodes Twenty10 It looks like a huge Jaffa cake, and tastes amazingly realistic: think moist, light sponge topped with zingy orange jelly and a layer of rich dark chocolate. Dhs50. Le Royal Méridien, Dubai Marina (04 399 5555).
Jalfrezi Chicken at Ravi’s A fiery dish bursting with fresh spices and packed with vegetables and meat. It’s slightly oilier and wetter than most jalfrezis in town, but is easily one of the most addictive. Dhs20. Satwa Road, Satwa (04 331 5353).
King prawns at Shimmers Enormous and juicy, the barbecue grilling gives these prawns a smoky flavour. They’re perfect with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of fresh black pepper. Dhs190. Mina A’Salam, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6730).
Laksa at The Noodle House A creamy rice noodle soup with just the right amount of coconut and spice. From Dhs40. Various locations including Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 319 8088).
Lemon prawn risotto at Café Bateel The hint of citrus really lifts this perfectly seasoned, summery dish. Dhs55. Marina Walk, Dubai Marina (04 368 4696).
Lentil soup at Al Hallab A smooth, creamy and deeply aromatic soup, thanks to a generous helping of ground cumin, and served with a wedge of lemon. The small portion size makes it a great entrée. Dhs14. Mall of the Emirates (04 341 1880).
Loup de mer en croûte de sel at La Petite Maison The sea bass is baked in salt and served with artichokes to create a Gallic dish that’s fresh, flavoursome and delicious. Dhs175. Gate Village 8, DIFC (04 439 0505).
Masala dosa and uttapam at Aryaas Beautifully flavoursome vegetarian delicacies from South India. From Dhs10. Khalid Bin Al Waleed Road, opposite BurJuman, Bur Dubai (04 357 7800).
Masala dosa at Green Leaves This affordable vegetarian spot offers creamy, spicy potato studded with cumin seeds, wrapped in a fresh, crisp dosa. Dhs7. Zen 5, Discovery Gardens (04 447 7866).
Mochi ice cream at Nobu Served in tiramisu and peanut butter flavours, this adventurous, unusual and just-sweet-enough dessert is a pleasant end to any Nobu meal. Dhs55. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Mushroom risotto at Margaux A wonderfully creamy dish with an earthy flavour. The portion size may seem small, but proves perfectly filling for most appetites. Dhs95. Souk Al Bahar (04 439 7555).
New Delhi Wrap at Saladicious Deli This fresh chicken wrap is a joy to the taste buds, featuring fiery eastern spices cooled with yoghurt raita and crunchy red onions. Dhs41. The Walk, JBR (04 423 0855).
Oden at Yakitori House This Japanese hotpot-style dish features fish cakes, daikon radish, boiled egg, seaweed and konyaku yam – delicious and filling. Dhs45. Ascot Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 352 0900).
Ossobuco at Splendido With meat so tender it falls off the bone, Splendido’s ossobuco is served with saffron risotto and a densely flavoured chunk of bone marrow. Dhs150. The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, JBR (04 399 4000).
Oysters at Pierchic We’re always delighted to knock back the juicy, flavoursome mollusks at this peerless restaurant. Lovely. From Dhs90. Al Qasr, Umm Suqueim (04 366 6730).
Parmigana De Melanzane at Pompeii This unassuming JLT pizza takeaway serves a fantastic oven-baked eggplant dish stuffed with plum tomatoes, mozzarella, herbs and drizzled with pesto oil. Dhs28. 1 Lake Plaza, Cluster T, JLT (04 453 9390).
Petite Filet Steak at Ruth’s Chris Steak House & Lounge A great, high-quality cut of tender USDA prime meat, served in a dainty portion for smaller appetites and drizzled with diet-busting melted butter. Dhs199. The Address Dubai Marina (04 454 9538).
Pot au pho at VÔi We love this upscale version of the Vietnamese street soup, with beef cheek and bone marrow for a posh touch. Dhs65. Jumeriah Zabeel Saray (04 453 0444).
Prawn salad at Le Pain Quotidien Light and well balanced, with avocado, tomato salsa and Atlantic shrimp, we’re glad this item is still top-notch, even after recent updates to the dish Dhs50. JBR (04 428 1305).
Prawns and lobster at Aprons and Hammers Eating here involves shell cracking and sticky fingers. This is a memorable pick from the menu. From Dhs140. Dubai International Marine Club, Mina Seyahi (04 454 7097).
Pu’er tea beef noodle soup at Sino Chai An incredible dish: home-made thick, chewy and twisty noodles sit in an intensely deep, rich. beefy broth. Dhs48. Building 27, Healthcare City (04 435 5650).
Pumpkin, apricot and pecan cake at THE One Deli Rich and wholesome, this is a deliciously caramelly and autumnal mix of flavours. Dhs18. The One Fusion, Al Quoz (04 346 8977).
Ragu calzone at Carluccio’s This full-flavoured beef mince in an intense tomato sauce is encased in fresh bread and brushed in tasty olive oil to ensure it’s glowing with flavour. Dhs14. Dubai Marina Mall (04 399 7844).
Ryoog yerena at Klayya Café We heartily recommend these Emirati-style baked eggs, served on a bed of dates that are turned via heat to sticky caramel and crunchy toffee. Perfect when accompanied by the excellent fresh breads and karak tea. Dhs37. Barsha Mall (04 325 5335).
Salad NiÇoise at Pascal Tepper french bakery Made with fresh tuna and a zingy dressing, this is a great take on the classic French dish. Dhs38. Atlas Business Centre, Dubai Media City (04 454 2408).
Sea bass with cockles and buttermilk at Table 9 The dishes here are so imaginative, you’re unlikely to have tried them elsewhere. While the sea bass is a fairly standard ingredient, we love the addition of posh cockles. Dhs100. Hilton Dubai Creek (04 227 1111).
Scallops at Traiteur Cooked to request, the scallops at Traiteur’s brunch are perfectly prepared and delicately flavoured. Brunch from Dhs425 per person. Park Hyatt Dubai (04 317 2222).
Scallops with tomato and lentils at Lafayette Gourmet Fresh and full of subtle flavours, the soft scallops combine perfectly with the juicy tomatoes and scattering of lentils to create an innovative, moreish dish. Dhs69. The Dubai Mall (04 339 9933).
Scallop sashimi at Honyaki We can’t get enough of Honyaki’s velvety smooth, creamy-sweet scallop sashimi – it’s one of the finest varieties we’ve tasted recently. Dhs35. Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
Scallop shumai at Hakkasan This innovative elevation of the classic Cantonese dumpling is plump and practically perfect. Dhs45. Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 384 8484).
Shakshuka at Baker & Spice AnArabic breakfast dish that makes a welcome change to the usual eggs Benedict. Expect poached eggs in a vibrant tomato sauce, served in a small pan with crusty bread. Dhs75. Downtown Dubai (04 427 9856).
Shawarma at Picnic Restaurant It’s a no-brainer: not only are these shawarmas seriously good, they’re very easy on the wallet, which makes them seem all the more delicious. Dhs5. Satwa (04 344 4805).
Shish taouk at Café Arabeseque Featuring perfectly cooked chicken, this is one of the best-executed interpretations of this Middle Eastern dish we’ve tried. Dhs85. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
Smoked swordfish dip at Toro Toro As committed dip lovers, we’re always eager to try a new flavour, and this creamy effort from Richard Sandoval’s kitchen is a favourite. It’s smoky without being overpowering – tortilla-dipping good. Dhs80. Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina (04 399 8888).
Spider Don at Manga Sushi Fear not: there’s no spider in here, rather a soft-shell crab cooked in a modern Japanese style. The crunchy texture and curiously distinctive taste is a fascinating alternative to sushi. Dhs85. Jumeirah Beach Park Plaza Centre (04 342 8300).
Steak sandwich at Bo House café A hearty option: the secret ingredient (avocado) combines well with the onions, cheese and perfectly seasoned beef. Dhs55. The Walk, JBR (04 429 8655).
Tagine barkook at Khan Murjan Who would have thought plum and garlic would be such ideal bedfellows? Tied together by the succulent lamb, this sweet and spicy Moroccan dish is an Arabic favourite. Dhs78. Wafi City, Oud Metha (04 327 9795).
Wagyu fillet for two at The Exchange Grill This fantastically tender Australian steak is plenty for two to share: it yields at the touch of the knife and is packed with flavour. Dhs995 for 20oz. The Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 5555).
Winter salad at Organic Foods & Café A winning mix of salad leaves with carrot, avocado, celery, broccoli, olives and radish. Healthy, fresh and bursting with vitamins, it’s particularly great if you’re feeling run down. Dhs26. The Dubai Mall (04 434 0577).