Perched on the Arabian Gulf and surrounded by coveted fishing grounds, Dubai is a fantastic city for seafood restaurants. Daisy Carrington reveals the city’s best.
For a first date…
Pierchic has long been a favourite of Dubai’s elite. Placed at the end of a scenic pier, this is certainly not a bad place to take a first date, or even just to stuff yourself silly. While much of the seafood is flown in it still rarely fails to impress. The poached trout is paradoxically firm yet flaky, while the John Dory is packed with a seductively smoky flavour.
Pierchic, Al Qasr (04 366 8888). Taxi: Madinat Jumeirah. Open 12 noon-2:30pm , 7pm-11:30pm daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price for two with a glass of wine Dhs700-800.
For a chilled vibe…
If you love fish but loathe dress codes, head to Sammach. This informal eatery doubles as a Lebanese haunt, and offers some fine mezze. Follow up some creamy baba ganoush with moist jumbo shrimp or the tender squid (if that’s your thing). While there are few seafood options not worth sampling, the same can’t be said for dessert, which tends to be a bland affair. Still, for the price, you pretty much can’t go wrong at this laid-back Jumeirah restaurant.
Sammach, Beach Centre (04 349 4140). Taxi: Jumeirah Beach Road. Open 1pm-11:30pm daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price for two with soft drinks Dhs100-200. Other locations: Creekside Towers, near Deira City Centre (04 295 4277).
If you like it raw…
Granted, there is something a little unnerving about the interior of Café Sushi, with its literal conveyor belt of raw fish and animé wall projections. But don’t let the somewhat sterile décor send you running. Grab a plate from the whirling line-up and drop a square of raw scallops on your tongue. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the sweet and tender meat. It’s a wonderful way to experience the flavour of truly fresh fish.
Café Sushi, Fairmont Dubai (04 332 5555). Taxi: Sheikh Zayed Road. Open 12 noon-11pm daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price for two with a glass of wine Dhs100-200.
For cheap grub…
A diamond’s throw from the shimmering Burj Al Arab, Bu Qtair keeps it real with its gloriously simple fried-fish curry and boiled cassava root dishes from Kerala. Yes, it’s a Portakabin – but be bold, squeeze onto a table, ask for what everyone else is munching on and shovel it home with your right hand. It’s insanely messy, unpretentious and cheap, but if you walk away with change from a Dhs10 note, you haven’t left a healthy enough tip.
Bu Qtair, Umm Sequim Taxi: opposite Fishing Village. Opening times depend on when the catch arrives, no phone number. Average price for two Dhs20-30.
For a local catch…
What Blues does, it does well. The menu is almost exclusively made up of fish from the Gulf, any of which can be cooked to your specificity. Want your Omani lobster deep-fried? Charcoal grilled? Sautéed? Steamed? No problem. For a starter, we’re especially smitten with the mussels mariniére, which comes in a creamy garlic broth. We’re also impressed with the tender, tamarind-tinged calamari and smoky charcoal-grilled hammour.
Blues, Marina Walk (04 367 4747). Taxi: Dubai Marina. Open 12 noon-11:30pm daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price for a meal for two Dhs200-300.
For a final big splash before bankruptcy…
If you have Dhs1,500 burning a hole in your pocket, it might be worth taking a taxi (or a simulated submarine) ride to Al Mahara. A recent visit uncovered flawless service and a rapturous starter of scallops and wagyu beef ravioli. However, an entrée of overcooked halibut made us wonder whether the hefty price tag demanded a bit more consistency. Still, Al Mahara is great for an all-out bash.
Al Mahara, Taxi: Burj Al Arab (04 301 7600). Open 12:30pm-3pm, 7pm-12 midnight daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of wine Dhs1,700-2,000.
For Creek views…
The interior of The Aquarium is as tranquil as the name suggests, and the menu offers consistently reliable grub. Medallions of fresh crab crumble in your mouth, while the lusciously moist pink snapper rests on a bed of equally stand-out mashed potatoes and lobster chunks. When the meal is over, it’s worth a foray into the land of dessert. The chocolate tian is a particularly decadent option, boasting fresh fruit and a liberal amount of white and dark mousse.
Aquarium, The, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club (04 295 6000). Taxi: next to Park Hyatt. Open 12 noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of wine Dhs300-400.
For caviar aficionados…
Caviar House & Prunier
Caviar House & Prunier boasts an excellent selection of caviar, though be prepared to pay a princely sum for some of its fine offerings. Even if fish eggs aren’t your thing, you’re sure to be pleased by the melt-in-your mouth cuts of fillet salmon (one of the offerings in the order of ‘gourmande palette’, alongside balik tartar and balik pearls – a gooey gathering of salmon roe). The oysters are also worthy of attention. Granted, you’re definitely not in for a cheap meal, but if you feel like splurging, this is a fine place to do it.
Caviar House & Prunier, Taxi: Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 368 6282). Open 3pm-1am daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of wine Dhs900-1,000.
For a business meeting…
Businessmen and families alike make repeated trips to Amwaj, perhaps drawn by impeccable service and presentation, alongside innovative cuisine. Consistently excellent dishes include scallops with creamy lemongrass sauce and mouth-watering monkfish with calamari and a sweet tomato froth. If you haven’t quite sealed the deal by this point, at least you can revel in the superb desserts. Brandy snaps jammed with delicate jasmine crème brûlée and fresh raspberries offer the perfect conclusion to what will have been a serene and leisurely meal.
Amwaj, Shangri-La Hotel Dubai (04 343 8888). Taxi: Sheikh Zayed Road. Open Sun-Fri 1pm-3pm, 7pm-12 midnight. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of wine Dhs600-700.