Where to do your cholesterol readings some damage with fried food in Dubai
Ambe special maki Love sushi? Love tempura? This dish at Benihana combines the two in the most awesome way possible – and you can forget ideas of a token sprinkling of crunchy batter crumbs. Consisting of sushi rice rolled with a filling of avocado, tuna sashimi and chef’s special sauce, each individual roll is then immersed in tempura batter before being deep-fried, and served stacked up and drizzled with a homemade mayonnaise. Belly busting rating: Sugary rice coated in fat then dressed with more fat? A solid 5/5. Dhs92. Benihana, Amwaj Rotana, The Walk, JBR (04 428 2000).
Cheetos chicken slider Potato chips or crisps in burgers is relatively new fodder to Dubai’s menus, and Salt’s new slider combo has to be one of the most (mouth-wateringly) bonkers we’ve seen. The food truck’s regular butter bun is anarchically stuffed with deep-fried chicken, melted cheese and a smattering of crunchy, cheesy Cheetos. Eagle-eyed readers will spot a token leaf nestled beneath the poultry, because, y’know, you need your greens. Belly busting rating: These babies come two in a portion, which earns them at least a 4/5. Dhs40. Salt, Kite Beach, Umm Suqeim, @findsalt.
Deep-fried gouda Deep-fried mozzarella has long been a staple on the city’s bar food menus, seeing off a few half-hearted attempts by Camembert to become the deep-fried fromage du jour. Kris Kros makes a play for a slice of the mouth-melting appetisers pie with its signature crispy gouda sticks, served with – of all things – a thousand island dipping sauce. Belly busting rating: As we haven’t found deep-fried butter in Dubai (yet) this is the closest you’ll get to the culinarily infamous State Fair of Texas. 5/5. Dhs43. Kris Kros, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard (04 453 9994).
Crab doughnuts Doing pretty much exactly what they say on the tin, this creative entry from Dubai’s brand-new Crab Tavern at the Media One Hotel marries sweet and savoury in the funkiest fashion yet. Picture a miniature jam doughnut, minus the jam, and instead filled with a mixture of white and brown crab meat, lemon juice, red chilli, coriander and sour cream. Belly busting rating: Top marks for savouryising (yes, we made that word up) a doughnut with Dubai’s favourite seafood, and extra points for sneaking in some sour cream. 5/5. Dhs58. Crab Tavern Dubai, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City, www.crabtavern.ae.
Fiore di zucca all’aragosta Zucchini (that’s courgette to all you Brits) is a vegetable that seems to divide opinion. But we defy any naysayers who have ever tasted the plant’s flowers, stuffed with creamy, cheesy goodness, not to be won over. Still not sure? Then try this rich, deeply satisfying starter from chef Corrado Pani. The flowers are filled with lobster and dipped in tempura batter. This crunchy courgette and crustacean concoction has Italian cuisine conquered. Belly busting rating: Don’t let the pretty portion fool you, this dish is rich. 4/5 Dhs109. Solo Bistronomia & Vinobar, Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 370 8999).
Fried carbonara tortellini Cover your eyes, Italy. Even richer than it sounds, restaurant and bar ubk has taken these classic pasta parcels and imparted its own, not-calorifically-insignificant twist. Each tortellini is filled with creamy carbonara sauce, sealed, then dipped in a sour cream and flour batter before being fried until lightly golden and crisp. Each dish is finished with a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt and dried chilli flakes. Pair with an ice-cold beverage of your choosing. Belly busting rating: Extra points for featuring cream inside and out. 4/5. Dhs45. ubk, Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster A, JLT (04 438 0000).
Fried pickles As an American sports bar staple, you might have expected these tangy little nuggets to hit the mainstream in Dubai long before now, if this city’s penchant for stateside imports is anything to go by. Alas, you’re as likely to find pickles on pub menus as uninterrupted NFL on the screens, so head over to Original Wings & Rings in DIFC, where they’ve been sliced up and righteously elevated into worthy bar food, via a spot of brining, bread-crumbing and deep-frying. Pickles not got you tickled? You’ll also find deep-fried jalapeño slices on this menu. Belly busting rating: 3/5 without the side of homemade ranch dressing, 5/5 if you’re a liberal dipper. Dhs30. Original Wings & Rings, Liberty House, DIFC (04 359 6900).
Khouy thod (deep-fried banana) Crammed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals, the nutritionally dense banana has no place on this list. Unless, of course, you’ve dipped it in batter, fried it to a delicate crisp, smothered it in chocolate sauce and served it with a generous blob of delicious, creamy vanilla ice-cream. Which is exactly what Pai Thai does. Kudos. Belly busting rating: Some points have been deducted on account of the central ingredient being a legitimate health food. 3/5. Dhs50. Pai Thai, Al Qasr, Umm Suqeim (04 366 5866).
Masala French fries Is there anything not to love about this combination of words? The ultimate coming together of east and west, these spice blend-tossed crispy fries reach even loftier culinary heights when used to mop up the remnants of one of this tiny JLT 'multicuisine' restaurant's super curries. Belly busting rating: A fairly full-on starter (which is what this carb-tastic dish is listed as), but even mightier when teamed with a spicy chicken Kolhapuri. 5/5. Dhs14. Fusion Restaurant, lake level, Cluster G, JLT (04 369 5096).
Mini prawns Koliwada Rock shrimp, battered and rolled in a conspicuously sweet mayonnaise dominate far too many menus in this town, particularly those with a fusion leaning. Mercifully, House of Curry mixes things up a bit, leaving the mayonnaise in the fridge where it belongs, in favour of a dry batter coating that’s as brazenly spicy as it is chilli powder-red. Timid palates will want an order of raita at the ready. Belly busting rating: One of the few dishes on this menu that doesn’t appear to have broken out the fryer for gluttony’s sake. 2.5/5. Dhs45. House of Curry, The Beach, JBR (800 692 8779).
Southern-fried chicken and waffles This culinary combo is the stuff of legend in the States. Globetrotting foodies worth their sodium intake ought to try it at least once, preferably glazed with syrup and with a modest vat of meaty juices on the side. Dubai’s Cravin’ Cajun offers plates piled high with buttermilk-marinated fried chicken breast, cornbread waffles, spicy maple syrup, fried cabbage, potato puree and smoked turkey gravy. Belly busting rating: Wear your stretchiest trousers, this one’s a 5/5. Dhs60. Cravin’ Cajun, Novotel Dubai Al Barsha (04 515 6622).
The Claw These fat little stuffed crab claws channel so many soundbites from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, that somewhere on Route 66, a very sunburned Guy Fieri will spontaneously start shrieking about the bus to Flavour Town as you dunk them in chipotle mayonnaise. Or maybe he won’t. But that’s the intensity of Claw BBQ’s down-on-the-shore, crab-shack vibe, right down to the pincers sticking out of each breadcrumbed croquette in this delightful dish. Belly busting rating: A drool-provoking 4/5. Dhs85. Claw BBQ, Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 432 2300).
Tempura lobster with truffle When you’re working with one of the most expensive crustaceans in the sea, there’s only one real way to swank it up a notch – and that’s by adding fancy fungus. Bite-sized chunks of sweet lobster flesh are deep-fried, then rolled in a creamy truffle mayonnaise (featuring a subtle hit of aji Amarillo chilli – the Peruvian twist), and topped with a few extra shavings of the underground-growing gold. Seriously natty fusion nibbles. Belly busting rating: A little too posh to earn too much paunch, but a respectable 3/5. Dhs65. Tesoro, Taj Dubai, Business Bay (04 438 3100).