From five star experiences to budget favourites get your Chinese food here
Time Out Dubai staff
China Sea An overload for the senses, this oddball restaurant in Deira is popular with Chinese expats and for good reason: you won’t get a more authentic mainland China dining experience in Dubai. A live seafood tank welcomes guests on entry, the decor is outlandish, the tables are covered in plastic and the vibe is casual and low-key. The menu is huge and offers delights including fried sea cucumber and vegetable and seafood steamed ‘gootey’ dumplings. The fried jellyfish is surprisingly tasty, the small and squiggly, rind-like tentacles marrying well with the wok-fried bean sprouts accompanying them. The mud crabs are pristinely fresh and considerably well-priced compared to other venues in the city, wok-fried and chilli-style they arrive with doughy bread to soak up the sweet, sticky sauce. Veggie options include a celery and cashew nut stir fried in garlic, which is cooked to absolute perfection. If you’re an adventurous eater, you can’t go wrong with this offbeat offering. Open daily 10.30am-midnight. Al Maktoum Street, Deira (04 295 9816).
New Times Restaurant An overload for the senses, this oddball restaurant in Deira is popular with Chinese expats and for good reason: you won’t get a more authentic mainland China dining experience in Dubai. A live seafood tank welcomes guests on entry, the decor is outlandish, the tables are covered in plastic and the vibe is casual and low-key. The menu is huge and offers delights including fried sea cucumber and vegetable and seafood steamed ‘gootey’ dumplings. The fried jellyfish is surprisingly tasty, the small and squiggly, rind-like tentacles marrying well with the wok-fried bean sprouts accompanying them. The mud crabs are pristinely fresh and considerably well-priced compared to other venues in the city, wok-fried and chilli-style they arrive with doughy bread to soak up the sweet, sticky sauce. Veggie options include a celery and cashew nut stir fried in garlic, which is cooked to absolute perfection. If you’re an adventurous eater, you can’t go wrong with this offbeat offering. Open daily 10.30am-midnight. Al Maktoum Street, Deira (04 295 9816).
Ba A fine-dining offering in Fairmont The Palm and one of the fancier Chinese offerings in the city, this two-level restaurant features dramatic decor and dimmed lighting, making for a romantic atmosphere. To counteract the chilly A/C, start the meal with one of the soups, the shrimp wonton option comes with a well-seasoned broth and perfectly fresh parcels of wonton with Chinese vegies. There’s a selection of somewhat dim sum, including the usual suspects of chicken siewmai with salmon roe and spring rolls as well as steamed buns. The mains are marginally more adventurous with both sea cucumber and abalone on the menu, as well as a wok-fried chilli crab, steamed lobster and a delicious vegetarian dish of work-fried and battered eggplant with dried chilli and cashew nuts. You also won’t be disappointed with rich desserts to fill you up instead, such as sweet peanut caramel chocolate fingers with a finger-licking good salted caramel ice cream. Open Sat-Wed 7pm-11.30pm, Thu-Fri 7pm-midnight. Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 457 3338). Saturday Yum Cha brunch:Dhs288 (with soft drinks plus pool and beach access), Dhs488 (with mixed and house beverages, plus pool and beach access), Dhs688 (with bubbly plus cabana seating and cabana food). Sat noon-4pm.
Hakkasan Diners at this contemporary Chinese restaurant and London import should expect a premium-priced experience. With its dimly lit ambience and privacy-affording booth seating, it’s ideal for a date or special occasions. Nothing should stop you tucking into delicacies such as Peking duck with Royal Beluga caviar and braised Japanese abalone. For those with a more moderate cash flow, the Hakka dim sum platter features pristinely fresh dumplings of scallop, prawn and chive and seabass. Likewise, the crispy duck salad with pomelo, pine nut and shallots is crunchy and moreish, the citrus perfectly offsetting the fat from the duck. There are novel takes on standard Chinese dishes, including sesame prawn toast with foiegras, as well as a wok fried chilli mud crab, which arrives with the meat completely extracted from the crab and stewing in a plenitude of chilli sauce. Open daily noon-4pm, 7pm-1am. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 384 8484). Brunch: Dhs199 (with soft drinks), Dhs398 (with mixed beverages, grape and hops), Dhs558 (with bubbly). Fri noon-3.45pm. Taste of Hakkasan: Dhs188 person (set menu with glass of grape or hops). Daily 6.30pm-8pm.
Royal China A grand, charcoal-hued Far Eastern-themed dining room with bright red accents awaits diners at this high-class Chinese restaurant and London import. Jellyfish-like chandeliers hang overhead and the place does both a roaring lunch and dinner trade. The food here is fine-dining without being overly fussy nor fanciful and the service is friendly and attentive. Order the jasmine flower tea to sip while you wait for your starters; it’s an artful creation, which springs open into a bloom once in hot water. The steamed platter of just-prepped dim sum is impeccably fresh, falling apart as you bite into the parcels of prawn and vegetable combinations. The deep-fried and wok-tossed salt and pepper squid is well-seasoned and the batter crunchy. The crispy fried aromatic duck is carved nearby, made into pancakes and then whipped over to the table. They’re the crunchiest we’ve tasted. For veggies, there are a few options, including the bokchoy with garlic and stir-fried mushrooms with oyster sauce. Open daily 11.30am-11.30pm. Building 4, DIFC (04 354 5543). Unlimited dim sum: Dhs188 (with soft drinks), Dhs388 (with house grape), Dhs488 (with bubbly). Available Fri-Sat.Business lunch: Dhs88 (two courses), Dhs128 (three courses).
Shang Palace If you're looking for a decent Chinese meal between Deira and New Dubai, where the majority of Far Eastern restaurants currently reside, Shang Palace should be high on your list. With its traditional decor, round-table dining room setting and quality food, the experience feels positively authentic. The mixed appetiser platter is ideal for sharing and a nice prelude for what's to come, featuring small servings of barbecued corn-fed chicken, marinated jellyfish with spicy sauce, chilled cucumber and beef short ribs. The Beijing duck is carved and rolled into pancakes right at the table, courtesy of a chatty chef. Service is friendly and delightfully informal for a place whose decor could be mistaken as stuffy. There are also a variety of clay pot dishes on offer, including king scallop with asparagus and black truffle and eggplant with shrimp in spicy sauce. Open Sun-Fri 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-midnight; Sat 11am-3pm, 7pm-midnight. Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 279 0302).
The China Club Bathed in natural light and offering group tables or private booth seating, this popular lunch spot in Radisson Blu Deira is one of the city's most reliable Chinese eateries. The food is largely the type you'd come back for. The stir-fried lobster with spring onion and ginger is cooked to perfection; the lobster tail cut into chunks and still in its shell, is well sauced and the dish is not too heavy. There are plenty of veggie dishes, such as wok fried bean curd with Chinese pickles and the moreish stir-fried Szechuan fragrant eggplant. Don't stop there, as there are a handful of desserts vying for your attention and the refreshing chilled coconut cream and sago pearls might just hit the spot. Open daily 12.30pm-3pm, 7.30pm-11pm. Radisson Blu Hotel Deira, Baniyas Road, Deira (04 205 7333).
Xiao Wei Yang Hotpot When you walk into Xiao Wei Yang, it’s immediately apparent that this is one of Dubai’s hidden gems: the packed restaurant and queue for tables speaks for itself. Choose a soup – which will arrive at the table in a huge metal dish to be placed on top of the hot plate – and pick from an extremely lengthy list of ingredients that includes everything from fish, shellfish, dumplings and almost any kind of meat, to vegetables, noodles, tofu and more. Each selection arrives fresh, vibrant and raw to be cooked at the table. The thin slices of beef, enoki mushrooms and fresh noodles in particular are wonderful; the noodles never venture into soggy, the juicy beef cooks in seconds and the mushrooms have a mildly nutty flavour and just enough bite. Staff are genuinely welcoming and happy to help first-timers with the menu. The venue itself is very basic, but it’s clear that the draw of this restaurant is its sublime food and the fact that it won’t break the bank. Open daily 11.30am-1am. Baniyas Road, Deira, near Radisson Blu, Dubai Deira Creek (04 221 5111). Other locations: International City (050 151 7228), Dubai Marina (04 421 4650).
Yuan Setting itself somewhat apart from the other dining options at Atlantis, The Palm with its own standalone entrance, expect to find the cool kids chowing down at this lounge-style fine-dining Chinese spot. The decor is stunning, massive tables are inlaid with a mosaic of mother of pearl shells, meanwhile nearby tables are slightly raised on an illuminated platform running the bar of the restaurant, flanked with high-back chairs fit for a king and hung with beautiful silver and blue brocade. The food is decent but be prepared to pay top dirham. The starter of wasabi prawns consists of massive crustaceans, smothered in a wasabi flavouring, while the steamed shrimp dumpling with yellow mustard is good without being great and there is no hint of mustard. Other dishes include crispy chicken salad with pomelo in mango plum dressing and a selection of clay pots, including a saucy braised eggplant and bean curd option with black pepper sauce. The desserts are inventive and a real highlight, particularly the raspberry sphere and the foamy cheesecake. Open Sat-Wed 12.30pm-4pm, 6pm-11pm; Thu 12.30pm-4pm, 6pm-11.30pm; Fri 6pm-11.30pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626). Brunch: Dhs188 (with soft drinks), Dhs388 (with mixed beverages and house grape), Dhs94 (children aged four-11). Fri 11.30am-3.30pm.
Zheng He’s This eatery’s romantic setting on the waterways of Mina A Salam make it one of the city’s most popular Chinese restaurants. The food is good and the relaxed atmosphere and regal Far Eastern decor will win you over. Tuck into a selection of steamed dim sum to start, including a lobster and truffle, or spinach and crab roe option, each neatly sitting on top of a thin slice of carrot to ensure they don’t stick to the bamboo steamer. The crispy fried soft shell crab starter is the winning dish; accompanied with green mango, coriander, sour plum lime dressing, it’s scoffed up in a heartbeat. There are a variety of unusual soups on offer including braised mince beef with bean curd and pumpkin seafood soup as well as more adventurous mains including braised foiegras abalone. Save room for inspired desserts such as the tantalising chilled lemongrass jelly with dragon fruits and lemon sorbet. Open daily noon-2.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm. Mina A'Salam, MadinatJumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6730). Brunch: Dhs425 (with soft drinks), Dhs525 (with house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm.