Restaurant awards brunch

Japanese 04 425 5660 DIFC

When dining at Zuma expectations are always high. This is a multiple award-winner, and is therefore always packed out. It’s also very expensive, but don’t let that put you off – save up and go. We mean it, if you dine at one Japanese restaurant in the city, let it be this one.

Book in advance, as it could take weeks before you get a table, it’s that popular. But happily, it ticks all the boxes once you’re in.
Winner of this category – as well as Best Brunch – for the second year in a row, the Japanese juggernaut that is Zuma shows no signs of slowing. It’s unfailingly popular and always busy.

Launched in Knightsbridge, London, in 2002, German-born chef Rainer Becker’s brand has gone from strength to strength, with branches from New York to Miami and Rome.

It’s not the prettiest of locations, set in DIFC with views over the main road, but you’ll hardly notice when your attention is fully focused on what’s on your plate.

Don’t miss the beef and green chilli robata skewers, they’re perfectly charred. The sweet potato with teriyaki and sesame is also a hit.

Main courses are sublime. The black cod is an obvious choice, although an excellent one, but we’d suggest the roasted Boston lobster, with shiso ponzu butter. It’s rich, tender, garlicky and moreish, with every bite a complete delight. And that’s what Zuma is, a complete culinary delight.

The bottom line
Award-winning Japanese. Book it, now.

Afghani 04 426 2626 Palm Jumeirah

Nobu needs no introduction. This globally renowned brand from Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa is consistently excellent the world over, especially here in Dubai, and you simply must visit. The restaurant at Atlantis the Palm is a hotspot for tourists and residents, and there’s a great bar for a pre-dinner drink, too.

Famous for its black cod, this is one menu item not to be missed. Nobu can be credited for the surge in popularity of the dish, after Hollywood star Robert De Niro tried it, loved it and told the world about it. And you’ll agree with De Niro. The buttery, flaky fish is a pure joy to eat. It’s rich, decadent and every bit as good as the hype.

The jalapeño yellowtail is also another stunner. The citrusy, delicate fish is tangy and light, and the chilli gives a warming kick. All the sushi is worthy of a try and for mains the grilled lobster is meaty and perfectly charred. Shrimp fan? Order up the prawn tempura, which are huge, juicy and not at all greasy – some of the best we’ve tried.

Dishes are also really healthy, as Nobu uses minimal sugar in his cooking, preferring to use the Chinese monk fruit – a zero calorie natural sweetener, so there’s no excuse not try them.

Nobu may be on the expensive end of the scale, but its popular for a reason and you shouldn’t miss it.

The bottom line
World-class Japanese dishes that are a must-try.

Peruvian 056 500 4571 Jumeirah

Peruvian cooking is one culinary trend that appears to be set to stay, and we’re thrilled – especially considering the quality of the cuisine in the city.

LIMA Dubai, from chef Virgilio Martinez, opened in City Walk.  Its sister restaurant, LIMA Fitzrovia in London, is the first and only Peruvian restaurant to win and retain a Michelin star, so the Dubai branch landed with high expectations. And it has so far lived up to them, with the food wowing us every time.

Service is also on-point, with staff quick to explain the interesting-looking and sounding dishes (which unless you’re fluent in your anticuchos and tequeños, is very welcome). The venue itself is cool, too, with massive, vibrant murals and a trendy vibe.

The food is a treat – don’t miss the duck bao buns, which are rich, meaty and perfectly flavoured. The ceviches are also stand-out, especially the sea bass and salmon versions, which are light, fresh and tangy.

All dishes are plated beautifully, with swirls of brightly coloured sauces and edible flowers (admittedly a divisive culinary decoration) making them almost a shame to spoil by digging in with gusto, although you won’t be able to resist.

The traditional chicken causa is really tasty, and the delicate flavours are expertly balanced. And if you like the idea of a mini Peruvian Cornish pasty, don’t miss the richly spiced tequeños.

Quite simply, everything at LIMA Dubai is a joy to eat, which is why its out Best Latin American Restaurant 2018.

The bottom line
The food really is superb.

Turkish 04 399 9123 Dubai Marina

Winner of Time Out Dubai’s Best Fine Dining Newcomer award in 2017, the fact this superb Anatolian eatery claimed Best MENA in 2018 is testament to its consistency in all areas.

In cooler months the doors are flung open to make the terrace and main dining area one, but in summer the cosy vibe and warm décor make the inside dining room a treat to visit, too.

The atmosphere is relaxed, convivial and romantic. Service is slick, as are the innovative dishes fired out of chef Colin Clague’s kitchen, which take diners on a journey through Turkey, from northern Marmara to the Aegean coast.

Lamb cutlets with creamy, smoky aubergine, grilled octopus with black-eyed beans, meatballs with baby artichoke – each dish is beautifully presented, deeply fragrant and rich in classic regional flavours. The pide is stunning, too.

A touch of Turkish sage here, a sprinkling of zaatar there, sumac, saffron… This feels like a real, modern journey through the celebrated cuisine of an ancient nation.

And if you get lost on your travels, the staff are never far from hand to make recommendations. Trust them – they know what they’re talking about. And trust us when we tell you this is one of the best restaurants in town.

The bottom line
Inventive dishes in a slick setting.

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