From fish and chips to sweet Japanese scallops try these dishes
Time Out Dubai staff
Dhs50 or less
Crispy squid at The Scene It’s not often that you could describe the texture of squid as buttery, but these thick, fat, lightly coated wedges of meat at Simon Rimmer’s Dubai Marina eatery are so tender that even the most cephalopod-phobic diners will be won over. The crisp, crunchy, chilli-flecked exterior gives way to mystifyingly soft slivers of squid, and with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of salt, this is an Asian-tinged gem. Dhs32. Pier 7, Dubai Marina, www.thescenedubai.com (04 422 2328).
Curry fish at Bu Qtair Pretty much anything at Bu Qtair seems to have the unassuming power to rock our world. Squeamish types should consider this a lesson in self-conditioning: get over the sight of mountains of dead, marinated fish staring at you from a huge metal trough and pick one out. Pomfret, sherry, you name it, staff will then weigh it and charge you depending on the species you choose and on the market rate. Then it will be fried for you. The result is a fiery and fragrantly spiced fish with crisp skin and moist, meaty flesh. From Dhs40 (small sherry). Street 2D, off Jumeirah Beach Road (055 705 2130).
Deep Fried Baby Squid at La Petite Maison
All told, the menu at Time Out Dubai’s Restaurant of the Year should probably come with a health warning – so packed is it with temptation that narrowing your choices down can seriously affect your blood pressure. From a seafood perspective it’s especially true. But the deep-fried baby squid starter is the steal of the century at Dhs45. Its crispy tentacles and succulent flesh melting and munching into a meaty, fishy, caramelly perfect storm that’s simple, delicate and decadent simultaneously. Dhs45. La Petite Maison, DIFC, www.lpmdubai.ae (04 439 0505).
Fried shrimps at Alto Mar This simple Portuguese seafood restaurant offers a daily selection of fresh fish cooked to your liking. They do a good job of it, but we are also fans of this starter, which is prepared in Portuguese style with plenty of olive oil, parsley and creamy-sweet chunks of garlic. It’s good for sharing and even better for dipping the bread from your basket into. Dhs45. Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, off Jumeirah Beach Road, www.alto-mar.com (04 343 5225).
Haemul pajeon at Sonamu
Sonamu’s take on this hot savoury snack is one of the best Korean discoveries we’ve made in the city. If you haven’t visited the Deira restaurant, you may well have scoffed this glutinous, fishy dish at Taste of Dubai, where Sonamu has been serving it up for the past couple of years. Bite into squid, prawns and an abundance of tangy spring onion, encased in a mixture of rice and wheat flour and eggs, fried until golden brown. Seriously satisfying. Dhs50. Asiana Hotel Dubai, Deira, www.asianahoteldubai.com (04 238 7777).
Chilli crab at Merlions King In Dubai, this Singaporean delicacy can cost you as much as a deposit for a car, but not at this restaurant in JLT. Choose from a number of chilli crab riffs (including Marmite crab). It’s as messy and utterly unsuitable for a date as it is deliciously sweet and spicy. Order a few extra mantou buns on the side to mop up all the extra sauce. From Dhs95 (half portion). Platinum Tower, Cluster I, JLT (04 456 4954).
Fish and Chips at The Gramercy
Since its makeover, The Gramercy has introduced a menu fit for any UK gastropub. What better way to showcase your Great British skills than with the nation’s favourite, fish and chips. Chunky chips, crispy batter, meaty flakes of cod, and best of all – proper mushy peas. All that’s missing is English coastal drizzle. Dhs95. The Gramercy, DIFC, www.thegramcerybar.com (04 437 7511).
Lobster grilled cheese at Slapfish
This is a satisfying beast of a sandwich, with a rather surprising posh edge. Fluffy slabs of golden brown toast are crammed to bursting with plentiful and succulent chunks of lobster meat, along with a messy, creamy cheesy sauce of melted Monterey Jack cheddar and mayonnaise. Dhs69. China Court, Ibn Battuta Mall, www.slapfishrestaurant.com (800 7527).
Masgouf at Samad al Iraqi A traditional, in fact ancient, cooking method in Iraq can be sampled here in Dubai at Samad al Iraqi. The fish is grilled on a wood fire, giving it a smokey charred crust that leaves the remaining flesh with a sweet, caramelised flavour. You can also ask staff to direct you towards smaller portions to try, served as fillets of this famous dish. From Dhs69 per kilo (whole fish). Jumeirah Beach Park Plaza, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.samadaliraqirestaurant.com (04 342 7887).
Salmon teriyaki at Chez Sushi
It would be criminal not to include teriyaki on this list somewhere, and Chez Sushi’s take on the joyously sticky dish is a worthy entry, particularly when enjoyed in bento form, and particularly during the café’s lunchtime happy hour, when you get Dhs15 off your box. Two fat fillets of pink salmon flake beautifully in the tangy glaze, itself a perfect balance of sweet notes and salty soy. Dhs61. Al Wasl Square, Al Safa, www.chezsushi.com (800 78744).
Chilean sea bass at Toro Toro
Celebrity chef Richard Sandoval’s South America-hopping restaurant is a Dubai Marina gem. Try the Chilean sea bass which, although steeply priced at Dhs130 for a signature small plate, is a triumph of taste and presentation. The fish is glazed with red miso and extra kick comes from aji amirillo and aji panca peppers, somehow making it simultaneously light, but feisty. Dhs130. Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina, www.torotoro-dubai.com (04 317 6000).
Lobster kibbeh at Qbara
Expect nothing less than an unusual riff on classic kibbeh at Dubai’s best MENA restaurant. This Qbara dish is as original as it is delicious, too. Crunchy bulgur shells are stuffed with chunks of juicy lobster and it’s served with a light avocado labneh on the side. Dhs105. Wafi, Oud Metha (04 709 2500).
Sea urchin pizza at Bussola
The seaside Italian restaurant’s popular rooftop pizzeria closes for summer, so make the most of its marine offerings while you can. Available as an extra seafood item, sea urchin is a great replacement or addition if you like the fishy flavour of anchovies, but find it a little strong. Accompany it with capers and olives and you’re onto a winner. Dhs105. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh Road, www.bussoladubai.com (04 511 7136).
‘Singary’ Egyptian-style fish at Barracuda Barracuda’s market-style approach gives you plenty of options on how to have your fish cooked, and one of the tastiest and healthiest is the Egyptian ‘Singary’ style where the fish is filleted, spiced and baked. The flavours are rich and aromatic, and suit pretty much any kind of fish you choose. Here, for around Dhs130 you can have a whole sea bass cooked this way. They take all the bones out, too. Dhs105-Dhs130 depending on choice of fish. Barracuda, Dubai Marina Walk, Dubai Marina, and Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 3, www.barracudaseafoodrestaurant.com (04 452 2278).
Tarabi Gani at Toko
This pretty plate of Alaskan king crab is a standout on the seafood menu at Vida’s trendy Toko. The white meat is picked and served in a section of the mighty crustacean’s leg, alongside tart umeboshi (a pickled Japanese plum), beurre noisette and ginger, which gives a little heat. The flavours are balanced perfectly is this dainty dish. It doesn’t come cheap, but it is delicious. Dhs135, Vida Downtown, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, www.toko-dubai.com (04 442 8383).
Whole baked sea bream at Fümé
One of the simplest yet tastiest dishes on the menu at this Dubai Marina restaurant and smokehouse (which is soon to open a branch in Downtown), each fish is served butterflied with a choice of sauce on the side. You’d be a fool to go for anything other than the garlic aioli. Cooked to almost teary-eyed perfection, the flesh is soft, moist and full of natural flavour. A sprinkling of salt and a glug of olive oil later, and you could be on the Med. Dhs147. Pier 7, Dubai Marina, www.fume-eatery.com (04 421 5669).
Hokkaido scallop ceviche at Zengo
According to chef Akmal Anuar, you just can’t get better than Hokkaido’s scallops. The waters of this northern-most Japanese island are so icy that the scallops you get to try at Zengo are most probably the sweetest, creamiest, freshest specimen being served in Dubai. Chef Akmal adds to that a little extra Asian flair with sharp, fresh yuzu jelly and a little caviar to boot. Dhs150. Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina, www.zengo-dubai.com (04 316 5550).
Moules marinieres at La Serre
Impossible though it seems to pick just one dish to scarf down at this swanky Downtown spot, this silky, creamy mussel dish stands out. Featuring some of the largest shells we’ve seen in Dubai, their fat, fleshy orange occupants absorb all the flavour of the rich, herby sauce they’ve been steamed in. Mop up the juices with crunchy, fluffy chips and a crisp, butter-drenched sliver of garlic bread. Sure, their goes your recommended saturated fat allowance for the year, but when you’ve got a mouthful of food this good it’s pretty much impossible to care. Dhs155. Vida Downtown Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, www.laserre.ae (04 428 6969).
Sea bass tarator at Clé
This sea bass dish at Greg Malouf’s Dubai restaurant Clé stands out as one of the most memorable pieces of fish we’ve eaten. Certainly in a while. Possibly ever. A really buxom and juicy fillet, colourfully garnished with a divine crust of shredded coriander and walnut, adding peppery and nutty dimensions. Dhs180. Al Fattan Currency House, DIFC, www.cle-dubai.com (04 352 5150).
Black sea bass at Solo Bistronomia & Vino Bar At Time Out Dubai’s Best Newcomer restaurant of 2015, this dish is one of chef Corrado Pani’s signatures and his personal homage to Nobu’s iconic black cod. This fish recipe is marinated, not with miso like Nobu’s dish, but with an Italian grape beverage that also gives the finished product a sweet, sticky and intense flavour. Absolutely delicious. Dhs220. Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha, www.solodubai.ae (04 370 8999).
Thai fish curry at Fish Market
For an authentic taste of Thailand, select your choice of fish from the market-style chiller and ask the chef here to whip you up Thai green fish curry. The fragrant spices and herbs, a good kick of ginger and lemongrass, whisk you to Thailand with every bite. The staff here are also great at helping you pick the best fish from the catch for a curry, and you can specify how much heat you can handle. Market price depending on size and variety. (Guide price: Halwa fish Dhs210 per kilo, plus Dhs15 cooking charge per person). Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, www.radissonblu.com/hotel-dubaideiracreek (04 222 7171). Goutte de Mer ‘sharing pot’ at Ossiano
This sharing platter of fresh fish offers a range of the ‘catch of the day’ all grilled and served in one copper pot. It’s a smart choice for couples who can’t decide what to have, but also a great way to sample the restaurant’s offerings. The pieces of fish are generously sized and come with seasonal vegetables – ample quantity for two hungry diners to enjoy. Dhs950 per couple. Ossiano, Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 2626).
Pepper crab at Peppercrab
When dining at this Grand Hyatt restaurant, it’d be poor form not to order its namesake. You can choose to have this sticky, robustly caramelised black pepper sauce enveloping either live mud crab or seasonal catch, such as the conversation-haltingly huge king crab. The showmanship in its stacked presentation is matched by the beast’s prehistoric proportions, and the sharp, pointy shell gives way to the softest, sweetest flesh around, which departs its casing with only a gentle teasing. Rally the troops, and get your mantou buns at the ready. Market price per 100g. Grand Hyatt, Oud Metha, www.restaurants.dubai.hyatt.com (04 317 2300).
Poached Lobster Thermidor at Pierchic
Ordering the lobster Thermidor here is a treat to the taste buds. The dish is beautifully presented with the whole lobster split in the middle and its juicy white meat packed into the shell and covered in a rich creamy sauce. Many a seafood restaurant have this French classic on their menus, but not all execute it so well. The lobster meat is sweet, juicy and it’s a tasty dish that adds to the pleasure of dining at this classy restaurant. Dhs375. Pierchic, Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, www.Jumeirah.com (04 366 5866).
Tuna ceviche at The Act
Like everything at this Shangri-La lounge, the ceviche is a performance. Intricately but generously presented you can opt for sea bass, salmon or even lobster pana cotta variations. But it is the yellow fin tuna with biting citrus flavours from the accompanying yuzu and mouth-awakening ginger that stands out for us. Include it in your sharing platter and enjoy it while watching on-stage theatrics. Included in dining packages starting at Dhs395. Shangri-La Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.theactdubai.com (04 355 1116).