Fusions, street food and weird and wonderful things from the sea
Modern Emirati Thanks to Qbara and Clé, modern Arabic dining has been king in 2014. Rather than fading away in 2015, this trend is due to grow and become fine-dining mainstream in Dubai. But next up for the crown is the trend for modern Emirati cooking. The nation’s favourite dishes, but given a little contemporary gloss, will appear on the ‘Emirati allure’ section of the menu at Omnia by Silvena in Downtown Dubai. Also in the area, Karak House is serving unique interpretations of UAE recipes, such as red velvet luqaimat, and the newly opened Al Barza in Jumeirah promises a ‘contemporary Emirati’ menu.
Arabic meets Indian Back to Karak House, its concept is rooted in a fusion of Indian and Arabic cooking. Since top Indian chef Vineet Bhatia is an advocate that these two cuisines are a natural fusion fit (following years of shared trade routes), we sense that this is a menu mash-up with legs and one that may well be about to start running in Dubai.
Asian-Latino fusion Listen up: this is not even a prediction. Whether it is a natural integration such as Peruvian-Japanese or the current global fast food craze for Mexican-Korean fusion, the trend for Asian-Latin cooking is absolutely and definitely due to hit Dubai, and hard in 2015. Following the recent launch of Latin-Asian concept Zengo, Asia de Cuba and Brazilian-Japanese venue Sushi Samba will both be coming soon to the city. And since Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese) concept Chotto Matte in London just launched an additional branch in Singapore, we are expecting to also see a launch here, too.
British Back in 2013-14, Dubai’s British dining scene hit the doldrums. However, following the launch and success of modern British venues Rhodes W1 and The Scene by Simon Rimmer, we are expecting to see an increased number of British launches in the city, but crucially – following the example of these two restaurants – new concepts that reflect (in their menus and décor) an altogether stronger sense of the current London dining zeitgeist.
Actually, really casual Yes, there has been an increase in more casual dining concepts in Dubai of late. But, largely, they have still struck something of a fine-casual note (or have been ‘deformalised’ as chef Heinz Beck puts it). Now, we are getting ready for a spree of actually, really casual café and bistro concepts, but with menus devised by top chefs that bring the same philosophy of quality to the menu as their fine dining restaurants. First up was mall-based eatery Taste Kitchen, developed by chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price. Next, is Italian café meets trattoria Taste of Italy by three Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck, due to open at Galleria Mall in February.
Southern soul food Scanning Dubai’s restaurant menus, 2014 has been the year of mac ’n’ cheese, as well as smoked and slow cooked meats. With the likes of Fumé and Slapfish doing a roaring trade in all-American and excellent comfort food this year, we are expecting southern-style soul food to become even bigger than Big Mama in the months ahead.
Food trucks It has begun. Social media-driven food trucks have become such a huge part of the dining culture in the UK and the US that it even sparked a hit film: Chef. Now, Dubai is joining in this global food craze, with the likes of catering company Ghaf Kitchen, and gourmet burger vans Salt and Jake’s pioneering the trend in the emirate.
Street food markets We’re not talking about farmers’ markets here. Dubai has already seen a wonderful and welcome growth in this area. We are predicting the rise in mobile dining via food trucks will result in a rise in dedicated street food events too. The Good Vibes Market in Al Quoz is already making waves in this area, with the likes of Maple Leaf Deli, Moti Roti and Taqado Mexican Kitchen participating at the event.
Supperclubs No, not the ill-fated nightspot at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. For 2015 we’re getting ready for Dubai to throw its spin on the secret dining club and pop-up restaurant culture that previously took London by storm. We’ve already seen an increase in dining meet-ups and pop-up dinners through groups such as Lime&Tonic and Restronaut, as well as an increase in exclusive invitation-only dinner pop-ups such as The Dinner Club 57 in the capital, and (held in December 2014) the first-ever ‘Dîner en Blanc’ event in Dubai, a one-off, invitation-only concept from Paris.
Qbara International The restaurant is not actually ‘Zuma’; it’s called ‘Zuma Dubai’, denoting its global presence. Exactly the same phenomenon is going to occur, only in the reverse. There may well be a Qbara London, Qbara Paris and more opening up in future. And where Qbara carves out this continent-crossing path, we predict plenty of other home-grown restaurant concepts will follow. Hold on world, Dubai’s restaurants are a-coming…
Souped-up salt Pink and Himalayan, smoked and flavoured: you name it, 2015 is going to see an increase in fancy salts gracing the dining table. We’ve already seen the beginning of this on the Palm Jumeirah, at Turkish Seafood restaurant Salt and Australian concept Bushman’s, which both serve diners with a selection of different salts. Next step? Eventually we’ll even find a salt sommelier in Dubai too…
Sea vegetables International trend predictors are promising an increase in seaweed, everywhere and in everything next year – even if you can’t see it. Firstly, seaweed has a myriad of health benefits, and secondly a little seaweed in a broth is handy to add a hearty yet veggie-friendly umami boost. Beyond seaweed, we are predicting that inspired by ‘new-Nordic’ foraging enthusiasts such as chef Rene Redzepi, there will be an increase in sea vegetables of every variety on Dubai’s menus. And the weirder and rarer the better, from samphire through to ingredients such as sea oysters and sea grapes (already seen on the menu at Zengo in Dubai).
Cauliflower We’re hearing that superfood du jour kale will be out in 2015. New health benefits discovered in cauliflower mean this is the next vegetable in the spotlight. We’ve already spotted it on the menus at top new restaurant openings – Gary Rhodes’ Rhodes W1 and Greg Malouf’s Clé – so Dubai is evidently well ahead of the cauliflower curve.
Hummus gets a makeover Around the world, creative riffs on this Middle Eastern staple are set to become the next big thing in dining with examples including Ottolenghi’s recipe made with lentils. More farfetched combinations are anticipated to hit restaurant menus (and supermarket shelves) around the world. So why not in Dubai too? We’ve already spotted beetroot hummus at Bystro, edamame hummus at Katsuya and cucumber seed ‘mama ghanoush’ at Clé this year.
Vegetarian at home We can reveal that two top chefs with a presence in Dubai, Antonio Carluccio and Greg Malouf, are currently working on new cookbooks. And they are both focused on cooking with vegetables. That is a sign of things to come, and if not already in 2015, in the future, we’ll be enjoying a more vegetarian-friendly diet at home.