Make an informed choice by dining at one of these responsible restaurants
Sustainability is an issue of global concern, highlighting anxieties that we are no longer putting back what we take from our surroundings.
Earth cannot not sustain our needs unless we change. Here in the UAE fish stocks of certain species have been in trouble for some time now, yet critically endangered species such as hammour (yellow-spotted grouper) and even blue fin tuna continue to grace Dubai menus. With 66 percent of residents estimated to eat the fish on a weekly basis, according to a survey by YouGov, and Choose Wisely stating stocks have dropped by a staggering 80 percent in the past 30 years, hammour has become a by-word for over-fishing in the region. Ida Tillisch, Director General at Emirates Wildlife Society-World Wildlife Fund (EWS-WWF) explains the issue: ‘The United Arab Emirates has changed in the past 40 years and this has led to a change in the way we use our resources. Too many fish are being removed too early in their lifespan, reducing their potential to produce future stocks. The onus is partly on the consumer, to eschew unsustainable choices when eating out and grocery shopping. To address the issue, Choose Wisely (operated by EWS-WWF) raises consumer awareness regarding over-consumption, working with the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi to created up-to-date lists of sustainable and unsustainable fish choices.
From eateries that consider sustainability a part of their raison d’etre, members of the Choose Wisely campaign and restaurants that have made a decision to go hammour-free, we’ve given you a choice of where you can eat fish without worrying about it. Try the dishes below for an eco-friendly alternative.
Baker and Spice The café has a strict policy of using no imported fish or seafood, sourcing sustainable species from the Arabian Sea. Fish served regularly include amberjack (or halawayo in Arabic) and yellow fin tuna from Oman, plus sardines and mackerel in the winter months. We’re told the café also buys its fish whole, and processes them in such a way as to avoid waste. The café does however serve local kingfish, but they tell us it is from a sustainable source. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown (04 425 2240). Other locations: Dubai Marina, behind Marina Promenade Building (04 362 4686), Dukkan Al Manzil, Downtown Dubai (04 427 9856).
Benjarong The Dusit Thani Dubai has introduced a no- hammour policy, with aims to use more local and sustainable species. Royal Thai restaurant Benjarong is included in this policy, where species such as red snapper are a good choice, such as the pla nueng manao (steamed red snapper with chili, garlic and lemon dressing). Dusit Thani Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 343 3333).
BiCE Mare As the name suggests, seafood in Italian style is the driving force of this menu, the restaurant aims to make sustainable choices in its selection, with no hammour in sight. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown (04 423 0982).
Fish Market The seafood specialists have teamed up with the Choose Wisely campaign, serving no hammour (in any of the hotel’s eateries) and using only sustainable species, such as yanam, faskar and naiser. The restaurant also attempts to source seafood locally, although not exclusively. Radisson Blu Deira Creek, Deira (04 222 7171).
Fuego The Mexican restaurant serves no hammour. While the menu is not particularly fish-focused, it offers a sustainable choice of dishes, such as ceviche made with red snapper and Gulf lobster enchilada. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown (04 449 0977).
Jamie’s Italian All the fish featured on the menu from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Dubai restaurant come from sustainable sources. Among the selection, you’ll find baked salmon with lemon and ricotta, pan fried whole royal bream and a sustainable fillet of the day cooked ‘in a bag’ with clams, mussels, fennel and Sicilian cracked wheat. Dubai Festival City Mall, Festival City (04 232 9969).
Karma Kafé This seductive and loungey pan-Asian spot serves a selection of fish from certified sustainable sources. This includes black cod from sustainable seas, organic Irish farmed salmon and shimaji, which is sustainably farmed in Japan. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 423 0909).
Lafayette Gourmet While the menus are still under development, Lafayette Gourmet has announced plans to introduce a more sustainable selection of seafood to its menus in September. The menu will include fish sourced both locally and from Europe that is MSC accredited. Galeries Lafayette, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 339 9933).
Mango Tree At the end of 2012, this Thai hotspot made the decision to take hammour off its menu. The restaurants continues to serve sustainable fish options, including snapper, bream and barramundi. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown (04 426 7313).
More Café The café aims to source responsibly across its menu, and uses fish supplied by MSC and WWF-certified sources. Currently available on the menu is a choice of tuna, salmon or seabass fillet, prepared to your chosen cooking method and served with a side salad and mashed potato. Locations citywide, including The Dubai Mall, Downtown (04 339 8934).
Seamood A star on the seafood scene in Dubai, this small outlet serves a highly affordable, fuss-free selection of seafood cooking. They have a strict policy of using only sustainable species, which are sourced each morning at the local fish markets. Mankhool Road, Satwa (04 385 7977).
Sumo Sushi and Bento This casual dining Japanese spot sells good value, well-made and fresh-tasting sushi and sashimi. It is also a member of the Choose Wisely campaign and has its sustainable fish choices flagged up, such as the ume sashimi platter with tuna, trevally and salmon or the fish katsu bento with yanam. Town Centre, Jumeirah Beach Road (800 7866). Other locations: Dubai Media City (04 390 4746).
The Kitchen This restaurant is partners with the Choose Wisely campaign and flags its local sustainable choices up on the menu to encourage diners to eat responsibly. The dishes include local naiser and orange-spotted trevally bouillabaisse soup, whole grilled pink-ear emperor with new potatoes and salsa verde, plus yellowfin sea bream with organic couscous and spicy cherry tomato salsa. Hyatt Regency Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
The Taste Initiative Both the café and the store have sustainability at the core of their concept, with local sourcing and environmental concerns paramount. This extends to the selection of fish on the café menu, which includes a grilled tuna salad with garden peas, using farmed yellow fin from the Philippines. The Change Initiative, Barsha, Sheikh Zayed Road (800 824).
Traiteur This restaurant is worth a visit for its creative French menu, and it is also an advocate of ethical and local sourcing. The restaurant supports the Choose Wisely campaign, with local, sustainable choices marked on its menu, such as filet of orange-spotted trevally ‘cocotte’. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).