From budget and delicious to unforgettable five star dining experiences
Time Out Dubai staff
Ananta Sleek and minimal, the decor of Ananta is a world away from most Indian restaurants. It is quiet and the staff are attentive and friendly knowing when to approach the table, leaving plenty of time to enjoy the fantastic food without disruption. At Ananta you’ll find beautifully presented dishes, created using some serious chef skills. The menu isn’t overwhelming, and the five-course tasting menu, with extra amuse bouche and palate cleanser, is a brilliant way to explore what’s on offer, and good value. A combination of dumplings in yoghurt and mint, foie gras and tandoori chicken, wagyu beef with biryani, tandoori prawns, chocolate dosa and deep fried kulfi is fantastic witheach dish expertly thought out and delicious. For an upmarket, smart meal you’ll be hard-pressed to find better. Open Sat-Thu 7pm-11.30pm; Fri 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm. The Oberoi, Dubai, Business Bay (04 444 1407).
Armani/Amal With a name like Armani attached to it, you’d expect this restaurant to be a stylish affair. And it doesn’t disappoint. From the moment you set foot inside the Armani Hotel, you can sense the class oozing out of the building. The same goes for Amal’s staff – attentive, helpful and knowledgeable, they get everything right. If you can, try to get a table on the terrace outside, with a tremendous position on the third floor of the hotel; look up and you can see the BurjKhalifa from a whole new perspective, look out and you can watch the fountains outside Dubai Mall. There can’t be many more romantic settings in Dubai. Thankfully, the food lives up to the high expectations, too. It all sounds delicious, but try the tasting menu if you want to push the boat out; it won’t cost you much more than a couple of courses from the à la carte and you get to try things you might not order usually. Scallops and lobster dishes are so fresh they taste like they were swimming the same day, the spiciness never overpowers the ingredients and everything is cooked perfectly. Desserts are also a thing to behold – artistic, impressive and wonderfully tasty. Open daily 7pm-11pm. Armani Hotel, BurjKhalifa, Downtown Dubai, dubai.armanihotels.com (04 888 3888).
Calicut Paragon Having to queue to get in a restaurant is surely a good sign, especially when it is in the heart of Dubai’s ‘curry corridor’ of Satwa, Karama and Bur Dubai. Paragon is popular, and for good reason. The Keralan food is delicious and it is a brilliant choice for budget eats, with most main course coming in at about Dh25. The menu is varied, but the seafood is a speciality. Crab Thusar is a thick, spicy sauce with a full crab broken up inside, it isn’t dainty but it is delicious. Mop it up with appams, pancakes made from fermented rice and coconut milk. The Pollichathu is also recommended, a fish in a masala rub and cooked in a banana leaf. Portions are plentiful and service is excellent. This is food to delve into and enjoy, leave any inhibitions at the door and take a trip to Southern India. Open daily 7am-1.30am. Opposite Lulu Centre, Karama, www.paragonrestaurant.net (04 335 8700). Other location: Near NMC Hospital, Al Nahda (04 298 8858).
Indego by Vineet With exquisite food, service and ambience, Indego by Vineet lives up to expectations. With the name of the first Indian chef to hold a Michelin star attached to it, the standards need to be high, and we’re pleased to say that they are. Staff are on hand to offer any help or recommendations you might need, from choosing dishes that go together well, or explaining what’s in each one. The setting is classy and the food is stunning. Malabari magic is just that, chilli paneer wrapped in a banana leaf, with broccoli, edamame beans and idiyappam noodles with a creamy malai sauce. Another starter, the herb chop,is a perfectly pink piece of lamb, with sweet baby carrots, a carrot foam and goats cheese samosa. Both dishes are a perfect balance of restraint and inventiveness. Main courses are just as good, and not just our usual curry and rice. Coastal jigha is a generous mound of prawns in a kaffir lime leaf and coconut sauce on a bed of polenta. Punjabi chicken is aspiced breast on pea and aubergine mash with potato croquettes and a wonderful madkhani sauce. The food here is outstanding, and has the price tag to match. Open daily 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-midnight. Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina (04 317 6000). Brunch: Fri-Sat 12.30pm-4pm. Dhs250 (with soft drinks), Dhs400 (with selected beverages).
Gazebo Gazebo’s Mankhool branch is incredibly busy most of the time, and even if you book a table don’t expect to be seated immediately. It’s indicative of how popular this eatery is. Once seated, you’ll begin to understand why. Waiters are confident in recommending alternative dishes to the ones ordered, and they do a great job at this, and it’s especially useful considering the overwhelming menu. Chicken samosas and pieces of tandoori chicken harialiare great as starters and the curries – try the chicken khasta and lamb kadai – are rich and packed full of flavour. Not quite a budget eat, but very reasonable, and one of the tastiest curries in Dubai. Open daily noon-11.45pm. Kuwait Street, Al Mankhool, www.gazebo.ae (04 359 8555). Various locations throughout the city including Deira City Centre (04 256 6999).
Mahec Whether you choose the stylish dining room or pretty outdoor area at Mahec, you’ll be seated in a relaxing space where you can enjoy the brilliant food coming out of the kitchen. Everything looks very pretty; this is one of the top Indian fine dining spots in Dubai. What sets Mahec apart from its contemporaries is the price tag; for the quality of the food served this is excellent value. The meat and vegetarian dishes here are all excellent – try the dhal makhani for an earthy lentil side, as well as the cucumber raita and aloopalak (potato in spinach sauce). For main courses you’d be wise to consider the home-style chicken curry. Breads are fresh and tasty and the vegetable pulao is excellent. Everything here is neat, tidy and very tasty. Open daily 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-midnight. Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, Airport Road,Garhoud, www.mahec.diningdubai.com (04 217 0000).
Asha’s Asha, in this instance is Asha Bhosle, the Hindi singer and actress. Her restaurant serves north-western Indian cuisine and the menu is filled with classics alongside some more modern dishes and family choices that Asha has shared. Her influence is all over the menu, with anecdotes and explanations about the food. It’s a warming touch that complements the decor inside, and it feels like you’re really in a restaurant, rather than Mall of the Emirates. The service is great, knowledgeable and helpful. The papdi chat is presented beautifully, with crispy discs layered with yoghurt, mint and chutney; each mouthful is a treat. The chicken soup, meanwhile, is fragrant and light. There is a choice of about 25 mains, with a healthy portion of vegetarian options, and kebabs. The dhaniya murg, chicken cooked in a yoghurt and cashew nut sauce, is spicy and fresh tasting, while the mirch baingan kasalan comes in a thicker sauce, with chunks of baby eggplant and coconut. Like Asha herself, this restaurant is dependable and classy. Open 10am-midnight Sun-Thu, 10am-1am Fri-Sat, www.ashasrestaurants.com, (04 395 1231). Business lunch: Dhs75 per person (for three courses), Sun-Thu 12.30pm-3.30pm. Other location: Wafi Mall, Oud Metha (04 324 4100).
Nina Deep within the sprawling One&Only Royal Mirage resort is Nina, a vibrant restaurant abuzz with people enjoying delicious food. Staff are friendly and helpful and the menu is easy to navigate. There’s a great atmosphere in the restaurant with a live DJ playing party music in the background at a volume that ensures conversation can still take place. You’ll find a range of curries in either small or large portions, which gives you a chance to try a couple – which you might want to do, considering there are unusual choices like frog legs and spiced duck on the menu. Try the sharing experience to get a good selection form across the board – you won’t be disappointed with the presentation, flavour or variety of the dishes served. There are interesting things going on at Nina, which is far from your traditional Indian restaurant, and all the better for it. Open Mon-Sat 7pm-11pm. One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh Road (04 399 9999).
Rang Mahal by AtulKochhar Celebrity chef Atul Kochhar has nailed Indian fine-dining at this stylish eatery. The dark room, with low orange lighting, is very romantic. Huge carved wooden pillars break up the space, making it feel more intimate than you would expect. Service is also fantastic, with staff on hand to offer recommendations and explain the menu, which is an exciting mix of familiar dishes, created with flair and high-end ingredients. The starter of softshell crab, which comes with a salad of crab meat, micro greens and passion fruit is fantastic, as are the Scottish ‘Lassooni’ scallops with garlic and cauliflower. The spices are subtle enough to add flavour, but not overwhelm, the delicate seafood. Main courses are just as decadent and tasty, the butter-tossed lobster in ‘Malai’ curry, with a mustard and coconut sauce is heavenly. The lamb khada masala, meanwhile, is amore earthy, traditional curry, but on another level to what you’d normally get. Rang Mahal is a classy restaurant serving impeccable Indian food. Open daily 6pm-midnight. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay (04 414 3000).
Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor With clean, simple decor and low lighting, Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor is the perfect romantic restaurant. Helpful staff are knowledgeable about the menu and can offer assistance when deciding on your choices. As always with Indian restaurants, there is plenty to choose from, including the reliable classics and some more inventive dishes. Before the meal, popadoms arrive with fresh, creative chutneys (including pineapple), while amuse-bouches and palate cleansers come courtesy of the chef. It’s a regular one on most menus, but make sure you try the butter chicken here. It is cooked with lemongrass, giving the dish a twist, and the meat is melt-in-your-mouth. Lamb biryani is also tasty and comes in a big portion with tender chunks of lamb. The restaurant’s signature bread, galouti naan, is filled with lamb and is as much a side dish as an accompaniment. A playful dessert is the saffron fried ice cream, which is studded with popping candy. You’ll find a romantic atmosphere and inventive food, presented well, at Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor. Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm. Melia Hotel, Kuwait Street, Bur Dubai (04 386 8111).