Best dishes in Dubai
Time Out is the guide to the best dishes in Dubai, and here we reflect on all we ate in 2016 at Dubai's best restaurants, including meat and seafood
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.
Sitting in a pretty location with a terrace overlooking the beach, cool weather will afford brilliant seaside vibes at this popular JBR eatery.
Inside, it’s quirky, with the eponymous utensils hanging up and featuring prominently in the décor, making you feel like you’ve just walked into British Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens’ own kitchen for a meal.
Preserves neatly stacked on shelves make up an entire wall and add pops of colour to the rustic furniture, giving the space a vibrant, contemporary café feel.
Food-wise all the classics are on the menu, from salads to roasts and traditional mains.
However, breakfast is where this restaurant comes into its own, as it proved picking up the Best Breakfast gong at the 2019 Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards. Breakfast is served daily from 8am until noon, plus several dishes are served all day until 6pm, including eggs royale (piled high with fresh Loch Fyne salmon) and Merguez sausages, which are punchy, flavoursome and meaty.
We also recommend the poached eggs with crushed avocado on sourdough and the full English, fully loaded with fried eggs, homemade sausages, bacon, roasted tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms and baked beans. The sweet and moreish chia pudding is also a hit.
The pastries are flaky, buttery and delicious, and if you visit between 8am and 9am you’ll get a free coffee with any dish.
Being set right on the beach it’s a perfect location for a family-friendly morning out, and that’s proved by the huge amount of families enjoying breakfast here every weekend.
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.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Ayubowan is the amazing smell – scents of curry and fresh spices greet you as soon as you walk through the large wooden doors.
The restaurant is small, with only a handful of tables, of which all are empty when we arrive. However, this means our service is excellent.
Our waiter greets us like we’re old friends and talks us through the menu, advising us on which local Sri Lankan dishes he recommends. With curries starting from as little as Dhs20 you might think taste is compromised, but not in this restaurant.
The (admittedly slightly alarmingly neon yellow) potato mustard curry is a highlight for us. It’s spicy, yet sweet thanks to the coconut sauce, with a kick of mustard at the end. Order it with a portion of rice and you’ll be one happy diner. For meat lovers we recommend the string hoppers (circular noodle patties) with beef curry.
A whopping 15 hoppers arrive with a side of steaming spicy beef curry. We insist you add coconut paste to this dish, as although it’s brilliant without, it’s even better thanks to this addition.
Portions are on the large side, so arrive hungry and sit back for an excellent, traditional Sri Lankan meal.
There are three of these venues across Dubai and we’re fans of all of them. The atmosphere is always good, the selection of hops (Belgian, of course) is wide, and the food is consistent. For fans of mussels, meat and cheese boards or ribs, we recommend them highly. Our favourite is the Festival City branch, with a lovely outdoor area looking over the Creek. Look out for themed deals throughout the week, too.
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