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.
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.
This swanky Asian, set high on the 36th floor of The H Dubai, is the ideal place for a fun, swish night out. As soon as you enter you’ll be wowed by the sparkling vistas out from the floor-to-ceiling windows and the classy, low-key vibe.
The signature dishes here should not be missed. The cuisine is “Mediterrasian”, a blend of light, fresh Mediterranean flavours with the bold, powerful tastes of Asia, and the kitchen does this tremendously.
PLAY’s Pita Surprise – baked crispy pita bread filled with wagyu beef and truffle paste, a Time Out Dubai favourite – is a simply stunning dish. Unique, fun and wonderfully indulgent, the crisp crunch of the casing houses a marvellously creamy, smooth filling. The sushi and sashimi are also delightful, fresh and tasty, too.
Main dishes range from entrecôte with café de PLAY butter – a tender cut of meat enhanced by that unique, tasty spread – grilled sea bass and black cod to oven-baked marinated saffron chicken. However, the spaghetti carbonara with veal pancetta made tableside in a giant Parmesan wheel is a showstopper. Not strictly Asian, it’s a dish served with flair and fun, and encapsulates what’s PLAY is all about.
Sit back and take in the ambiance, and don’t arrive too early – this place ramps up later in the evening. Book later to enjoy the top atmosphere alongside those views and that food.
The bottom line:
Creative dishes and striking views
This is coffee shop gurus Tom and Serg’s fourth culinary venture and their first licensed premises. It’s impossible for the names Tom and Serg to be written down without the word “hipster” being close by. So we’ll get it out of the way now. In this bar, you’ll find many a moustache, a plethora of plaid and a smattering of snapbacks. There are also craft hops, innovative beef and chicken hot dogs and chicken and waffles. All of this, we are happy with. Brunswick brings something different to the sports bars of Al Barsha. In short, the food is better than other places nearby, it’s light and it isn’t filled with smoke. There’s an “outdoor” smoking area separate from the main bar, which is all industrial styling (exposed ceiling, concrete floor, bare light bulbs) and TVs showing sports from Australia, the US and the UK. Burgers are excellent and we can recommend the pink pepper squid and nachos for sharing. There’s plenty here to keep most people happy, not just sports fans.
Pai Thai won the Best Thai gong at the Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2016 for good reason. It’s stunning, offers spectacular views, and the gourmet food will leave a lasting impression. Make the journey to the restaurant via abra across the Madinat’s tranquil waterways, then sit outside on the terrace to take in the scene. If you have someone to impress, there are few better ways to do it than with a meal here. Inside, the restaurant is dark and understated, yet slick. It feels high-end without trying. Staff are helpful, knowledgeable and have a knack for knowing when to appear – just what you want from a venue of this standing. Get an overview of dishes with the Pai Thai starter sampler, starring meaty prawn cakes, sticky, sweet, sun-dried crispy beef, chewy, glutinous purple flower chicken dumplings and crisp vegetable spring rolls. Don’t leave without trying a classic Thai curry, the gaeng phed ped yang (roasted duck red curry) is rich and dynamic in flavour, lifted by the sweetness of cherry tomatoes and pineapple chunks and given a kick from the heat of red chillies. The menu also gets the occasional revamp, keeping the whole experience exciting and fresh. A winning meal out.
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