Our favourite feasts which pack just 500 calories or less
Time Out Dubai staff
Sometimes it seems as though there’s a divide in this city, a 50-50 split between the sweat-drenched early-morning bootcampers and the burger-clutching late night drive-thru regulars. While half of the city works hard to stay in shape, the other half happily order a tasty takeaway every night of the week.
In January, however, after a period of joyously uninterrupted gluttony, even the most ardent French fry fanatics are looking to cut back where they can.
Knowing that one of the most popular pastimes for everyone in the emirate is to dine out every now and again, we reached out to restaurants across the city and asked them to recommend the best dishes on their menus under the 500 calorie mark. Of course, you
still need to be sensible about the fat and sugar content in your meals (a scoop of ice cream may have fewer calories than a plate of grilled steak and greens, but it’s still ice cream), but these 20 top plates prove that watching your waistline needn’t be a sacrifice.
Healthy beetroot salad at Leila This salad starter features a mixture of fresh greens and leaves along with bright pink beetroot, yoghurt and vinegar as a dressing. Dhs23. Leila, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 448 3384); Mirdif City Centre (04 251 5161).
Kcal per dish: 218
Spicy tuna roll at Benihana Tuck into fresh blue fin tuna contained within sticky rice and rolled in tempura flakes, with a hint of spicy mayonnaise. The portion features six rolls. Dhs45. Benihana, Amwaj Rotana, Jumeirah Beach Residence (04 428 2000).
Kcal per dish: 290
Warak enab (stuffed vine leaves) at Mezza House A classic cold mezze dish, these leaves are stuffed with rice, pomegranate and yoghurt – the restaurant claims these little rolls are light on the palate as well as your waistline. Dhs25. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 420 5444).
Kcal per dish: 96
Prawn cocktail at Seafire Steakhouse and Bar A light and refreshing dish, this prawn cocktail features a hint of citrus and is Seafire’s signature starter. The presentation is something to behold – it arrives at the table smoking. Dhs98. Seafire, Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Kcal per dish: 263
Tiradito of sea bream with coriander mojo at El Sur A sea bream fillet is ‘cooked’ using a citrus marinade (a technique designed to maximise the flavour) and served cold with a coriander sauce (that’s the mojo) – a typical Spanish accompaniment. Dhs95. El Sur, The Westin Dubai, Al Sufouh Road (04 399 7700).
Kcal per dish: 319
Letasu to Karikari konbu no salada at Zuma A small salad, this dish features a soy sauce-based wafu dressing, cucumber pickle, konbu seaweed, toasted sesame seeds and iceberg lettuce. Dhs48. Zuma, Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 425 5660).
Kcal per dish: 204
Melone e gamberi at PAX Italian Restaurant Tuck into poached Argentinian shrimp, thyme, radish, dill, chives and slices of sweet melon, served over a bed of rocket leaves and drizzled with a lemon and orange dressing. Dhs85. PAX Italian Restaurant, Dusit Thani Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 317 4515).
Kcal per dish: 360
Som tam goong sod (papaya salad) at Sukothai Shredded green papaya, carrots, green beans, tomatoes and prawns are tossed together to form the basis of this refreshing Thai dish. It also includes dried shrimps, ground peanuts, garlic, fish sauce and chilli for a distinctly Asian flavour. Dhs52. Sukothai, Le Méridien Dubai, Garhoud (04 702 2307).
Kcal per dish: 331
Watermelon and feta salad at Le Serre Bistro Crisp, sweet melon and salty, creamy feta make for a refreshing combination here, with fresh chopped basil adding that extra savoury note to steer the dish away from tasting too much like a dessert. Dhs55. La Serre Bistro, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 428 6969).
Kcal per dish: 300
Chargrilled halwayo at Fish Bazaar Fill up on this 200g grilled fillet of fish, served with steamed broccoli, carrots, baby corn, sugar peas, cauliflower and pak choi – you'll get a good dose of healthy oils from the fish plus a variety of vitamins from the colourful array of vegetables. Approximately Dhs150, depending on weight of fish. Fish Bazaar, Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 399 5000).
Kcal per dish: 358
Baby spinach and raddichio salad at Pronto Available as either a starter or main, baby spinach and raddichio are combined with roasted pumpkin and seeds along with feta cheese. A dressing of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard is drizzled over the top. Dhs44. Pronto, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 311 8316).
Kcal per dish: 194
High protein vegetarian gratin at Balance Café A filling combination of layered pasta with tofu, spinach, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese – a good choice if you’re cutting back your meat intake this January. The café has a number of other dishes for under 500 calories, including Asian vegetables with beansprouts and tofu, palak bhutani, and bhuna gosht. Dhs34. Balance Café, Oasis Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 515 4051).
Kcal per dish: 475
Famous pasta salad at Baker & More This dish can be served cold as a starter or hot as a main course, and features penne pasta, broccoli, sundried tomatoes, sweetcorn, lettuce and a pesto sauce, as well as a balsamic vinegar dressing. Dhs28. Baker & More, China Court, Ibn Battuta Mall, Jebel Ali Gardens (04 427 8186).
Kcal per dish: 485
Light chicken at Leila Found under the grill and platters section of the menu, this dish claims to have a low fat content but plenty of nutrients. The energy-boosting meal is composed of 200g of sliced chicken, marinated with mustard, served with grilled potatoes, grilled eggplant (or aubergine, to the Brits), onions and rocca. Dhs48. Leila, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 448 3384); Mirdif City Centre (04 251 5161).
Kcal per dish: 430
Wholewheat spaghetti at Waterfront This hearty meal is served up at Talise Fitness’s in-house eatery, and features fresh tiger prawns, garlic, broccoli and chilli, plus plenty of herbs and lemon. Each serving has just over 33g of protein, making it an ideal post-workout meal. Dhs102. Waterfront, Talise Fitness, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Umm Suqeim (04 406 8999).
Kcal per dish: 207
Sauteed scallops and red snapper at Spectrum on One Fill up on low fat, high protein seafood with this wok-fried dish, which also includes veggies in the form of tomato and asparagus, contributing crunch and tang as well as a dose of vitamins. Dhs115. Spectrum on One, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 311 8316).
Kcal per dish: 307
Leggera pizza at Jazz@PizzaExpress There are three leggera-style pizzas to choose from – all coming in under 500 calories. The American feature pepperoni, light mozzarella and tomato (or go hot with chilli peppers); the pollo ad astra features chicken, light mozzarella, roasted red peppers, Cajun spice, garlic oil and red onions; or try the pomodoro pesto, bearing light mozzarella, marinated tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto and garlic oil. (Jazz@Pizza Express declined requests from Time Out for the exact number of calories). From Dhs48. Jazz@PizzaExpress, Cluster A, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 441 6342).
Kcal per dish: 500
Banana walnut loaf cake at Baker & More A combination of fruit and nuts help give this cake an extra dose of sweet and richness. The chopped walnut and mashed banana loaf goes well with a cup of tea. Dhs8. Baker & More, China Court, Ibn Battuta Mall, Jebel Ali Gardens (04 427 8186).
Kcal per dish: 449
Baked yoghurt at Balance Café Ditch cold dairy and try this gently warmed treat, which also contains a raspberry coulis for a bit of added sweetness. Dhs20. Balance Café, Oasis Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 515 4051).
Kcal per dish: 266
Strawberry agar-agar mousse at Comptoir 102 This dish boasts no sugar, no dairy and no eggs, as well as being gluten-free. Its texture is instead down to agar-agar, a gelatinous substance derived from algae, popular in Japan. The potted dessert also includes strawberry, banana and coconut milk. Dhs22. Comptoir 102, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1 (04 385 4555).