Nordsee: It’s not often that you find yourself overwhelmed by menu options at a fast-food joint. Yet at Nordsee, the German seafood chain at The Dubai Mall food court, you’ll be spoiled for choice. There’s a range of healthy prawn options to choose from (lemongrass? Pan-fried with tomatoes and onions?) or, if you’re feel like something fancier, you can order the lobster. Burger fanatics can get a fried bremer sandwich, while the slightly more adventurous can opt for smoked herring.
The Dubai Mall, lover level
Fish Supper: The Fish Supper is a strange and wonderful entity: a food stall not linked to any major chain, yet making everything, including the tartare sauce and pickled eggs, from scratch. Yet it’s tucked away in a deserted food court at Arabian Center, when really it should be stationed on a busy beachfront avenue. You wouldn’t expect this unassuming little place to dish up some of the best fish and chips in the emirate, but those that make the trek are in for a treat. The batter is light and crisp, with a pale yellow hue, while the fish underneath is plump and moist. The skin-on chips are the perfect thickness: golden and crisp with a fluffy interior. Definitely one of our favourite food court finds.
Arabian Center, Mirdif
Sumo Salad: The Australian soup, sandwich and salad chain isn’t related to Dubai’s premier sushi franchise. Rather, Sumo Salad serves up café fare that is not only healthy, but fresh and tasty as well. We’re particularly smitten with the pumpkin and pine-nut salad, not to mention the toasties (aka toasted sandwiches). It’s also refreshing to leave the food court without feeling the slightest bit guilty.
The Dubai Mall, lower level
Lemongrass Express: The non-express Lemongrass restaurant has long been considered one of Dubai’s best Thai spots. The venue proudly eschews MSG and other nasties and goes beyond the standard pad Thai/green curry options, offering some genuinely authentic eats as well. The Ibn Battuta counter, while serving a scaled-back version of the menu, is no less innovative. Woks full of fish curries and papaya salad battle for attention. One thing’s for certain: diners are guaranteed something more unique and satisfying than the standard food court fodder.
Tunisian Court, Ibn Battuta Mall
La CrêParis: This little eatery rustles up some of the best crêpes we’ve tasted in Dubai. Refreshingly, La CrêParis isn’t some international export, but a home-grown Dubai chain, and an impressive one at that. Diners can decide how healthy they want to be (dieters can go for a spinach crêpe, while sugarholics can fill up on dessert toppings).
Mall of the Emirates, west food court. Other location: Deira City Centre
Extreme Freshies: Healthy and wholesome, this sports-style café serves up sandwiches, gourmet grills and tramazzinis (filled pittas), all washed down with ‘extreme’ juices and smoothies. Even more exciting than the low-cal menu is the fact that it’s reasonable to boot. All in all, a welcome alternative to the classic burger joints that dot the malls.
Times Square Mall
Al Hallab: Not your typical fast-food joint, this is in fact an offshoot of the family-owned Al Hallab restaurant in Garhoud. Specialising in traditional Lebanese cuisine, its houmous and falafel are definitely worth a try if you’re craving a tasty – and reasonably healthy – bite. Not a bad meal to sneak into the nearby movie theatre if you want a change from sickly popcorn and bland hotdogs.
Mall of the Emirates