There's plenty more seafood restaurants, but these are the best
Time Out Dubai staff
Winner – Best Seafood Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2013
Ossiano As soon as you walk down the large staircase into Ossiano, you’re transported from the hustle of Atlantis to a smooth, sophisticated 007-worthy eatery. Decor is based around purple and silver hues, and copious strings of crystals and chandeliers hang from the ceiling. A husky singer and pianist fill the space with old and new soul songs, while the centrepiece, a huge aquarium, casts a glow, drawing your eyes, as though hypnotised, to the creatures lurking inside (look out for the fantastic roaming leopard-print sting ray). Service is professional, and while prices are far from cheap, sharing set menus enable you to order more food for your money. Portions are large, so you may well not need that salad starter combined with a large main: the quality of each dish is high, and it’s hard to resist eating past your comfort zone. That said, staff make it very clear you can stay as late as you like to finish up (doggy-bagging is not an option). From the unique blue crockery to the sweet desserts, Ossiano has fully come into its own for 2013. Open daily 7pm-11.30pm. Atlantis The Palm, www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 2626).
Highly Recommended – Best Seafood Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2013
Al Mahara As you’d expect from a seafood restaurant inside the prestigious ‘seven-star’ Burj Al Arab hotel, prices range from outrageous to jaw-dropping to heart-twanging. But, as you’d also expect, every table is very likely to be full on any night of the week. Situated around a vast aquarium, you’ll spend your meal eye to eye with some gawp-worthy varieties of sea life (look out for female zebra shark Zebedee: the first of her species to deliver pups without having mated). Fortunately, nothing in the water beside you resembles the species found on your menu. Lobster, foie gras, king crab, king oyster and other upper-crust fish are sprinkled liberally throughout the appetiser section, while mains include cod, Atlantic wild turbo and blue lobster from Brittany, with desserts featuring plates such as pure Ghana chocolate and kumquat confit. Most of the seafood seems shipped from abroad, but, again, this is the Burj, and the key ingredient is decadence. There’s even a signature ‘golden cappuccino’: coffee sprinkled with gold dust. What makes all this lavishness digestible? The thoroughly outstanding service. For a one-off unforgettable Dubai meal, Al Mahara remains top of the tree. Open daily 12.30pm-3pm (last orders 2.30pm), 7pm-midnight (last orders 11.30pm). Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Road, www.jumeirah.com (04 301 7600).
Highly Recommended – Best Seafood Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2013
Fish Market Fish Market has been part of Dubai's seafood scene for a number of years now, and like the fishing industry around the Creek, there's no stopping it. Book ahead if you plan to visit on one of its popular special offer nights, as tables will likely be full - especially by the window (it has been known to run a Lobster Night during which you can buy any clawed specimen, of any size, for a mere Dhs99). Overlooking the creek - and fireworks, if you happen to be there during one of the city's big shopping festivals - it has an aura of calm, even if it's packed to the gills. Similarly, staff remain calm and friendly. Expect a free portion of fries before your food arrives, and consistently good dishes once they do. A little Dubai gem, with a lot of soul. Open daily 12.30pm-3.15pm, 7.30pm-11.15pm. Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, Deira, Dubai, www.radissonblu.com/hotel-dubaideiracreek/dining (04 222 7171).
Amwaj The decor at Amwaj is clearly well thought out: large circular windows showcasing tropical fish and a hint of the kitchen; stylish bottle cabinets, metal dividers that give the impression of underwater reeds. The only place it falls down is the fact it backs out to the lobby, which unfortunately tends to zap the place of atmosphere. That aside, service is incredibly chirpy and considerate, while the menu is thankfully concise and relatively creative, spanning ceviche, oysters, wakame salad (a Japanese seaweed) and imaginatively prepared fish dishes. It's tricky to choose one of the desserts, though we recommend those that are locally-inspired (try the 'bedouin' if it's available: date ice cream with a measure of Arabic coffee). Meanwhile the grape selection is varied, showcasing bottles from New Zealand to India. We heartily recommend Amwaj, especially if you wish to dine somewhere quiet, where you'll receive ample attention from the staff. Open Sun-Fri 7pm–midnight. Shangri-La Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.shangri-la.com/dubai (04 405 2703).
Aprons & Hammers Aprons & Hammers is the only crab shack on a dhow in Dubai. The dining process involves, should you wish to select it (there are regular fish, chicken and fish burger à la carte dishes too), smashing open a bucketful of crab and lobster morsels with mini hammers, and allowing the 'roadkill' to splatter onto your handily-provided apron. Fun, huh? Don't write it off as a novelty: fortunately the service is friendly, the fresh fare is tasty, portions are generous for their price, and the walk up the jetty offers one of the most impressive views of Dubai Marina you can find (point out the twisty building to visitors). The only issue is that its destination-location means it is sometimes rather quiet. Still, it only takes a few tables seated closely together to provide a fun atmosphere, and there are so many members of staff manning the ship you never feel lonely. Smash it, say we. Open daily 12pm-12am everyday 11.30pm (last orders Sun-Wed; 12am Thu-Sat). Dubai International Marine Club, Mina Seyahi Beach Resort www.apronsandhammers.com (04 454 7097).
Bice Mare Innovative Tuscan seafood and breathtaking Burj Khalifa views combine to make Souk Al Bahar’s signature Italian seafood eatery a memorable Dubai dining experience. Just be sure to get a table on the al fresco terrace. The fairly soulless monochrome dining room is usually filled with diners wishing they’d booked early enough or the weather were cool enough to be sat outside. However, the food is fantastic wherever you are seated and; you should stick to the seafood theme. If you’ve never tried seafood variants on pasta, then the spaghetti tossed in clams, paccheri with monkfish or fettuccine with lobster show the variety of tastes it can offer. Food is rarely simplistic, with most of the fish dishes being given the obligatory twist. This means the baked turbot has a side of black truffle, and even the tuna and Sicilian vegetables dish is glamorised with a pomegranate reduction. In the safe hands of the excellent kitchen team, it tends to work – but expect to pay heartily for the artistry. Open daily noon-midnight. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, www.bicemare.com (04 423 0982).
Bu Qtair Bu Qtair benefits from its stark contrast to the clichéd Dubai eatery: it's an utterly basic shack, set right on the beach (beside its polar opposite, the Burj Al Arab), with plastic chairs to sit on. This disparity, combined with the fact that it serves rather good fish attracts a diverse, but sizeable crowd, from Western tourists who want to experience the less glitzy side of Dubai and the crowds of Asian expats who have grown up on its menu, to the Umm Suqeim Sallys and Steves who live around the corner. Service is succinct (at times, rude) and comes with a thick accent, and the (verbal) menu consists of prawns, hammour, sheri and whatever else has washed in that day, combined with curry sauce, naan, rice and soft drinks. But as you'll struggle to spend more than Dhs100 for two (where else can you feast like a king at that price, with a view of the city's 'seven star'?) this place is a must-visit. Open 7pm-midnight. Road 4d, Umm Suqeim (055 705 2130).
Flooka You might forget about Flooka amid the many new restaurants fighting for your fish-cravings in Dubai. But you shouldn't, as this Jumeirah 1 restaurant has stood the test of time and won: its scenic beachside terrace and large indoor space still attract a lot of local, largely Arabic, punters year-round. Decor is modish but traditional: seafaring paraphernalia hangs on the walls, but the predominance of wood lends a contemporary touch. Service is friendly if a little slow, and the dining options are Arabic-leaning and a little oily, but not unpleasantly so. We recommend booking later in the evening, as this is when regulars tend to roll up, as well as booking a table outside if possible – the AC inside can be a little chilly. Open Sun-Thu noon-3.30pm, 7.30pm-11.45pm; Fri-Sat 12.30pm-11.45pm. Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah, www.dxbmarine.com (04 346 1111).
Peppercrab Peppercrab, located in the Grand Hyatt, has stood the test of time, and can still be found busy and buzzing on a week night. Although the wait staff can seem a little panicked (and it can be tricky to catch their eye), once you've established contact they are personable. The restaurant is made up of a large indoor area and an outdoor terrace overlooking swaying Palm trees – reminiscent of South-East Asia. Indeed, the menu strongly reflects the establishment's Singaporean roots, including a page of favourites from the small city-state, such as oxtail and Singapore roast duck, as well as crab, lobster and prawn options, and several specimens available from the fish tank. With the restaurant's name in mind, you'll likely spy each table spattered with the remnants of at least one peppercrab. Be warned: the crab tastes great, but you'll be required to invest a lot of time picking out edible morsels – and you may well laugh so much you forget your appetite. Open Sat-Wed 7pm-11.30pm (last orders 11.15pm); Thu-Fri 7pm-12pm (last orders 11.30pm). Grand Hyatt Dubai, Oud Metha, www.restaurants.dubai.hyatt.com/peppercrab (04 317 1234).
Pierchic Pierchic ought to be on every Dubai resident or visitor's bucket list. Set on stilts out at sea in front of the sprawling Madinat Jumeirah complex (or what used to be home to Chicago Beach Hotel – hence the second syllable of the restaurant's name), the walk along the wooden path towards the attractive eatery is utterly unforgettable. But do the food and service measure up? Pierchic is extremely popular, and at times the wait staff show the strain, but overall the vibe is welcoming and buzzing. The menu, thankfully, is not overwhelming in length (though it certainly isn't cheap), and covers all seafood classics, from dishes such as crispy organic salmon with parsnip purée to black tiger prawns. It also throws in a few dessert surprises (think toffee banana pudding with peanut ice cream) and rounds things off with a solid grape and after-dinner drinks list. Tip: be sure to book ahead of time, and save Pierchic for a special, ideally romantic, occasion. In terms of setting, it's difficult to beat in Dubai. Open daily 1pm-3.30pm; 7pm-12.30am. Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, www.jumeirah.com (04 366 6730).