Octopus, duck, cuttlefish and gourmet mac and cheese
Dhs200+ Mud crab with black pepper sauce at Peppercrab You’ll have to choose between paying your rent and eating this dish… It doesn’t come cheap. The Australian mud crab is cooked fresh out of the tank and served in the moreish, sweet yet peppery, buttery black pepper sauce that is worth every penny. The presentation is enticing, with the tender, chunky crab meat served neatly underneath its own shell, doused in the Singaporean-style sauce with a simple garnish. From Dhs45 per 100g (typical weight 1kg). Grand Hyatt Dubai, Oud Metha (04 317 2300).
BBQ octopus at 101 Dining Lounge and Bar Cooked to caramel on a charcoal barbecue, 101’s signature seafood is something serious to look at and even better to eat. Sliced into succulent (and hearty) pieces, the star of the show – all bright purples and whites – is scattered with finely chopped pimentos del piquillos around a centrepiece of crisp romaine lettuce drizzled with an acidic shallot dressing. With crunch and sharpness and velvety insides, it’s a perfect combination of flavours and textures. It’s not cheap, but neither is life. Dhs210. One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 440 1030).
Soft-shell crab tempura at Nobu Beautifully light, crispy batter encases huge chunks of sweet, delicate crab, which sits in a neat pile atop cool cubes of watermelon before a tangy amazu ponzu sauce is poured all around. A seriously arty – not to mention tasty – eat. Dhs115. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Crispy duck and pomelo salad at Hakkasan Tossed with fresh greens, the acidity from the pomelo perfectly cuts through the richness of the crispy duck, making it a real pleasure to eat. The pine nuts and pomegranate give it a nice local twist. Dhs180. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 384 8484).
Dhs51-100 Burrata et tomates at La Petite Maison This fresh, tasty salad contains not just the best burrata we’ve had in Dubai – it might actually be the best we’ve tasted anywhere in the world. It’s also one of the restaurant’s highest-selling dishes. Dhs95. Gate Village 8, DIFC (04 439 0505).
Crispy squid with green chilli and lime at Zuma There’s nothing quite like this perfectly coated, peppery dish to kick off a meal at one of the city’s best Japanese restaurants. Super-tender and unspeakably moreish, squid has rarely been so well prepared. Dhs60. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 425 5660).
Moussaka at Elia Restaurant Made in the traditional way, this classic dish from Greece won over Time Out Dubai’s Greek staff with its deliciously authentic combination of minced beef, lamb and aubergine, topped with a creamy béchamel sauce. A must-try. Dhs63. Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai (04 359 8888).
Crab cake, cheddar and Cajun spice mini burgers at Siddharta Lounge This dish beats the usual mini beef burgers on offer at bars. The flaky crab melts in your mouth and is complemented by crispy vegetables and guacamole. Dhs80. Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 399 8888).
Steamed cod at Frioul Bistro When it comes to light and healthy dishes, the steamed cod served with lemongrass and vegetables is our favourite. The tender meat goes down perfectly when ordered with a side of Lyonnaise potatoes. Dhs95. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 567 0011).
Crispy fish tacos at Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen + Lounge Think fresh red snapper, a delicate tempura batter and soft flour tortillas accompanied by tartare sauce, Mexican peppers, cabbage and pickled cucumber. Get stuck in. Dhs95 for three. Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 316 5550).
Grilled cuttlefish at Barracuda Specialising in Egyptian and Arabian seafood, this Beach Road haunt does the majority of its fish dishes incredibly well. An exceptional – and always readily available – dish is the grilled cuttlefish, local catch smothered in herbs, expertly seasoned and with just the right amount of charring. Dhs55. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 394 0408).
Soft-shell crab with coriander and chilli at Long Yin Crunchy and well seasoned, but most importantly soft enough for you to sink your teeth into, this dish of baby crab is well coated in a light batter and topped with fresh coriander and carries little snippets of heat in the form of chilli. Dhs86. Le Méridien Dubai, Airport Road (04 217 0000).
Mini black angus burgers at Leopold’s of London The restaurant takes a shot at the all-American slider and wins, big time. Two miniature but towering black angus burgers dressed up in veal bacon and cheddar cheese on fresh mini poppy seed buns are the stars of this dish, but it’s the combination of the aioli and Leopold’s of London’s home-made barbecue sauce that are the real standouts of this dish. Dhs80. The Beach, JBR (04 430 6841).
Mac and cheese at Cut by Wolfgang Puck In what has been a year for mac and cheese recipes cropping up on Dubai’s menus, this dish from acclaimed Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck is one of the best we’ve sampled. The beauty of it is that it combines good-quality pasta with high-quality cheese (and plenty of it too), plus a little textural crunch courtesy of toasted breadcrumbs on top, creating a rich, flavour-packed, creamy treat. Dhs60. The Address Downtown Dubai (04 888 3444).
Summer pudding at Rhodes W1 This retro English pudding recipe is beautifully and simply conceived by British wonder-chef Gary Rhodes. The cake-like casing of bread is soft and oozing with fruit juices, while inside the dome you’ll find a generous amount of fresh, plump, sweet and intermittently tart forest berries. Dhs55. Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 317 6000).
Six-hour smoked beef chuck rib at Fumé This year, we’ve barely seen a new menu where smoked and slow-cooked rib hasn’t featured prominently. These wonderfully tender slices of beef are so beautifully buttery with a deliciously smoky edge that you are looking at some seriously souped-up comfort food here. Dhs98. Pier 7, Dubai Marina (04 421 5669).
Lancashire cheese and herb sausages at The Scene On this plate, you’ll find some vegetarian-friendly croquettes – but don’t think there is an ounce of disappointment meant in that. These plump and perfectly crisp yet creamy cylinders combine aromatic herbs with fresh, tart Lancashire cheese, so that the recipe is flooded with fresh, clean, cohesive flavours. Dhs79. Pier 7, Dubai Marina (04 422 2328).
Truffle labneh and crudités at Qbara This inspired (and inspiring) fusion twist from chef Colin Clague sees the Arabian staple labneh given an exclusive and aromatic edge with generous amounts of black truffle. Scoop the concoction up with colourful baby and heirloom crudités served on shaved ice to keep them amazingly crisp and crunchy. Just. Wow. Dhs60. Wafi, Oud Metha (04 709 2500).
Dhs50 or less Kunafa manakish at On The Wood This manakish shop’s take on the classic Arabic dessert is a mixture of syrup, brown sugar and cheese, sandwiched in folded toasty dough and is one of the most glorious sweet treats we’ve tried. If only they served it with a little cinnamon ice-cream, it could be the best dessert in the world, ever. Dhs20. Al Barsha (04 456 1606).
Five spice stir fried beef at Wox Though the portion may be small, the flavour on this dish is certainly not. Thick chunks of impressively tender beef are rolled in bold, aromatic Asian spices and served solo (dining here should be done tapas-style). The effect is fuss-free, but absolutely fantastic. Dhs50. Grand Hyatt Dubai, Oud Metha (04 317 2221).
Butter chicken at Wrap & Roll Haandi This creamy mild curry has just the right amount of tang and the chicken pieces are tender and cooked to perfection. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better butter chicken this side of New Dubai. Dhs28-33. Al Barsha (04 432 8564).
Crab thusar at Calicut Paragon Served in an earthenware pot in a portion big enough for two, this rich, coconuty curry boasts an entire crab still in its shell. Prepare to get messy – but we promise, it’s worth it. Dhs35. Karama (04 335 8700).
Pierre’s salad at Choix Patisserie and Restaurant par Pierre Gagnaire If three Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire gives his name to a salad, guaranteed it’s not going to be your average bundle of lettuce. Cue then, this complex, multifaceted bowl full of textures, from crisp chicken skin through to fresh little bites of aloe vera. Dhs50. InterContinental Dubai Festival City (04 701 1136).
Emerald Sheikha at Omnia Gourmet Among a plethora of delicious-looking (and tasting) patisserie on display, you’ll find plenty of raw, paleo, gluten-, sugar- and/or dairy-free recipes. We particularly like these bright green little tartlets filled with an indulgent, yet surprisingly healthy custard of avocado and coconut. Dhs33. Al Souq, Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, Jumeirah 2 (04 343 7181).