The Insider

New openings and festive menus in Dubai


For those of you who are already sick of Christmas two weeks before it’s actually happened, apologies: we’re well and truly in the festive spirit now that mince pies can be bought in every nook and cranny of Dubai (Waitrose’s mini mince pies are always a shoe-in) and coffee shops – from Starbucks to Costa – are dispensing hot beverages in snowflake-strewn cups. Hooray! But let’s not forget that Christmas isn’t just about the birth of Santa (kidding) or the presents – no, it’s about giving, sharing and spending time with the relatives you do your best to avoid for 364 days a year. As such, the Burj Al Arab (04 301 7777), in true understated fashion, is releasing a limited-edition ‘Burj Al Arab Chocolate Log’ covered in edible gold. Seriously. Created by chef Maxime Luvara, the quaint Christmas treat is yours for just Dhs500. Expensive, yes, but the sugar high will last forever.

Last week’s travels took us to the new Hard Rock Café at Festival City (04 232 8900), which proved a sufficiently noisy place to consume inhuman quantities of fried finger food. Service was friendly and relatively swift, which was surprising considering the staff spend most of their time dancing on tables. Even one of the chefs couldn’t resist darting out of the kitchen to join a rendition of the The Pussycat Dolls’ ‘Jai Ho’. He was quickly ushered backstage to flip burgers and practise for the Macarena. Look out for our review next week.

Despite the absence of dancing staff, Okku (04 501 8777) remains a great place to dine and party, more so now it has a new menu featuring creative combinations such as ‘O style hotate’ (seared scallops with figs in a truffle-wafu goma), swordfish shoyuyaki (ginger chilli-soy baked swordfish), and ‘dynamite kani’ (baked king crab leg). Meanwhile, Circle Café (04 342 8177) in Jumeirah Beach Park Plaza is serving a spanking new menu, featuring delights such as sweet potato fries (a big deal for resident Kiwis, we’re told) and fresh crab bagels. Another restaurant that has lots of people making unnerving moans with their mouths full is Table 9 (04 227 1111) – one reader was particularly taken by the plant-pot amuse bouche (with edible earth), ‘which really prepares your senses for a delightful meal’. Keep an eye out for our review next week.

Before we sign off, a quick scattergun of opening/renovation news – the ‘new-look’ Academy at The Address Montgomerie (04 390 5281) appears to be rocking a very ‘old-look’ (in that very little has been done in terms of makeover). Wafi has a new steakhouse, called W’s Steakhouse (04 324 4100); the ‘W’, we’re guessing, stands for Wayne. Or Wafi. We’re not sure which. Finally, posh London club Mahiki ( is rumoured to be opening in Jumeirah Beach Hotel on December 19. ‘That’s not a restaurant, it’s a bar!’ we hear you cry. Yes, well, it serves mini-burgers and sandwiches, so we’re keeping it. Until next week: bon appétit.

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