Big portions, main dishes and desserts…here's the best food you can try in Dubai
Time Out has no problem telling it like is, and we’ve tried so much food in the city that quite frankly it’s alarming. And while once a year at our restaurant awards we share the best restaurants to go to, based on service, ambience and a multitude of things, we thought it would be nice to zone in on individual dishes. Here are some menu items that make the trip to a restaurant completely worth it on its own.
Chef Velvick’s simple dish name sums up this recipe perfectly. The flavours riff on traditional Eton Mess, with meringue, cream and fresh summer berries. However, the giant dome of meringue is filled with an elegant elderflower cream, making this one of the best flavour sensations around.
Firstly, make sure you get the “dry” version. If you get it with sauce, the wonderfully crunchy batter coating the paneer gets soggy. The cheese comes with slivers of crispy onion and spicy chilli in a portion big enough for two, though it’s incredibly moreish so you might not want to share. A budget delight.
Our love affair with soaked oats only really began after we first laid eyes on Bystro’s delicate (gluten-free, vegan) riff on the health-conscious favourite. Pooled in almond milk, mixed with dried goji berries and topped with swollen chia seeds, maple labneh and matchsticks of fresh green apple, it’s enough to entice any sworn fry-up fan away from their eggs.
The burger is now so ubiquitous that reinterpretations are as common as the real deal. This Vietnamese-inspired creation is one of very few ‘new’ inventions that really made us take note. This recipe combines moist as you could imagine chicken thigh, with fresh and citrusy Vietnamese raw salad. Like banh mi in a bap.
The pecan crust is what gives this side dish plenty of edge. In true American style there’s plenty of brown sugar, vanilla and butter to bring the otherwise boring sweet potato to life. The result is a smooth and crunchy combination which would serve well as a dessert too.
We aren’t quite sure what goes into Shake Shack’s sauce but whatever it is, when it’s added to a single Angus beef patty shack burger, it’s simply delightful. The New York burger comes with all the trimmings, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes – classic.
We’re suckers for anything rich and chocolatey but this cake takes our cravings to the next level. The hefty slice of dark Venezuelan chocolate cake is incredibly moist thanks to layers of creamy Swiss chocolate mousse and a topping of sweet and sticky caramel. And as if that isn’t enough, crushed pecans and fresh coconut elevate the dish.
It may take some time to get to you, but the good news is that none of these burgers have been frozen – every single one is made and cooked fresh. As ever, when trying out a new burger joint, stick with what you know to avoid the hurt and confusion of combinations like pineapple and egg. BSB’s meaty, dribbly, smoked Canadian cheese-topped cheeseburger is a doozy, and we recommend doubling up for that morning after that just won’t go away.
Dhs43 (single), Dhs55 (double).
Sometimes, only a massive cake and coffee will do. The cake bosses at this expat favourite know what makes a cake zing, and top of the bakes is their classic carrot cake. Double layered, topped with creamy cheese icing, it is just moist enough, and a slice is big enough for two to share.
Brits fond of that made-by-gran classic of cauliflower cheese may wet themselves with delight at Fümé’s upgrade. All the cheesy, gooey goodness of the UK recipe, but with enough black truffle flavour to sink a battleship. Comfort food at its finest.
Getting a seat at this tiny cafeteria-esque restaurant is tricky sometimes, but it’s worth the wait for these bargain dumplings. It’s far from flash, with the six Nepalese dumplings served on a paper plate with plastic cutlery, but the steamed chicken momos taste like they should cost far more than a handful of dirhams.
This ornately decorated restaurant is often busy, and chances are, many diners are ordering these delicious dumplings. Steamed and served in a traditional-looking basket, they are light and delicate, holding a flavourful broth and a tender piece of scallop.
Yes, there are branches across the city, but the shawarma and Hassan Mattar served in the branch next to J3 Mall always float our boat. Imagine the world’s best and teeniest shawarma, crammed with cheesey mayo. Sounds bizarre, but we guarantee you’ll experience a party in your arteries. And, you should definitely RSVP to it.
Served on a banana leaf, this vegetarian thali is both a pleasure to behold, and be eating. Individual dishes depend on what vegetation is available that day, but you can expect the presence of pakoras, dal and a cardamom-infused sweet. The chefs don’t shy away from chilli – come with a palette prepared.
Dhs15 (lunch only).
A sandwich doesn’t have to be boring, as Taste Kitchen proves. The chicken, chilli and mango wrap is chockfull of tender chicken pieces, complemented perfectly by the sweet sauce that packs a slight kick. From the soft wrap to the crispy fries on the side, this is an unassuming winner.
More fiery than many mainstream incarnations of the British curryhouse favourite, Memsaab’s rich, tikka masala is just one of the great dishes that keeps us coming back to the JLT favourite. Since you’re already off the wagon, you may as well order a butter naan to mop up the remnants.
It might be the dragonflies flying past, the sound of the trickling fountain or the lush greenery that surrounds the tables, but the Eggs Florentine at The Farm is A1. Soft, chewy muffin, just-wilted spinach, perfectly poached egg and a pale, creamy Hollandaise sauce. The restaurant may be hidden away, but
this dish should be known to all egg lovers of Dubai!
The quintessential Mexican dessert is turned on its head by Chef Jason Atherton. The fried dough pastry has a soft, squidgy centre of creamy goat’s cheese and crispy outer edges flavoured with goat’s cheese salt. It’s when you dip it into the indulgent truffle-honey sauce, however, that you realise you will be ordering another plate.
Looking for a food court fix? Ditch the double cheese and let your cholesterol readings breathe a sigh of relief by ordering a freshly grilled chicken kebab salad at this kiosk. Each meal is made to order – your two skewers will be cooked right in front of you, and your salad assembled based on your instructions (it’s a bit like Subway, but without the weird smells).
Messy as hell to share, but worth every bite. This tiny tostado is made with a fine, thin and flat round of nutty blue corn, topped with a delicately diced combination of mango, chilli, and lobster that has a powerful punch of summer freshness to it.
Meat lovers may scoff but we have no doubt you’ll wolf down the Japanese eggplant with aka miso from the robata grill like we do. A perfect example of a simple dish done exquisitely, the aubergine is perfectly cooked and the miso marinade brings new meaning to the word moreish.
Who said vegan food was bland? BeStro, aka Be Super Natural, doesn’t even know the meaning of the word. This “lasagne” features layers of thinly sliced courgette slathered in a creamy tahini dressing and topped with a deeply flavoured home-made tomato sauce, crowned with cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and an olive oil drizzle. What was that about rabbit food?
Chef Tom Aikens upgrades the humble calamari ring of rubber, with a coal-black coating of crunchy batter created with a blend of squid ink, and retaining a beautifully creamy quality to the flesh inside. Ace!
A humble bar snack they might be, but these gooey balls have been a regular fixture with the Time Out team this year. Deep-fried, golden-brown and oozing with cheesy goodness – they’re the perfect bar snack, and when paired with some of the venue’s Belgian hops, become a great thing indeed.
A dramatic dessert to end a meal, hot white chocolate sauce is poured over a dark chocolate sphere, which duly disintegrates to reveal the equally chocolatey contents.
Served with berry ice cream to provide a slightly lighter balance, this is a truly decadent dessert.
This indie-feeling Peruvian spot gives new life to Peru’s traditional causa potato patties, with three different varieties, each packing a powerful punch of aji marillo chilli, and finished off with delicious toppings of prawn, salmon, and octopus respectively.
Sometimes you just can’t go wrong with a plain cheese pizza and at Après the Margherita is carb perfection. The thin-crust is thick enough to sink your teeth into and layered generously with buffalo mozzarella, bocconcini, fresh basil and oregano.
Every forkful of this dish at (arguably) Dubai’s best Sri Lankan spot, brings back memories of tucking into a plate lined with a plastic sheet by the side of the road. And those were darn good memories. Thick chunks of roti are chopped into a fried noodle-esque arrangement and the result is as unique as it is delicious.
These thin and meaty Japanese mushrooms come in a tangle of tempura, dressed in a creamy wasabi mayonnaise that’s just the right side of eye-watering. An unusual, tasty and light tempura dish that is one of a number of brilliant dishes we’ve eaten at Okku this year.