Cooking at home
Three new standalone cooking schools have opened in the city in the latter half of 2012, alongside several restaurants incorporating cooking classes into their repertoire of events. Top Chef opened in July on Jumeirah Beach Road, offering a range of family-friendly and adult classes for home cooking enthusiasts. Scafa launched in September in JLT, hosting a spectrum of classes catering to everyone from total beginners to full-time entry-level qualifications for those that want to take their food passion to professional status.
Cooking appliance company De Detrich unveiled its first cooking school in Dubai at Dubai Ladies Club this year, while new restaurant Blue Flame illustrated the importance of home skills by making its glass-pod cooking school a central focus of the restaurant’s design and concept. Responding to a demand from Dubai residents to learn new cooking skills, this focus on schools and classes suggests a determined shift towards eating in during 2013, as well as a push towards better understanding the food you’re eating.
Dubai has long been a playground for fashion designers dabbling in the restaurant scene. We already have Cavalli Club, an Italian eatery opened by designer Roberto Cavalli, as well as a host of Giorgio Armani-designed restaurants (Hashi, Amal, Peck and more) in Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa, plus the Armani Caffè in The Dubai Mall, and even the Emporio Armani Café in Mall of the Emirates. Now, even the fashion magazines are at it too, with two Vogue cafés opening in The Dubai Mall by the end of the year and a GQ bar scheduled for early 2013 at an as-yet unconfirmed location.
Home-grown fast food
This year we’ve noticed a flurry of casual eating brands, including bakeries, cafés and gourmet fast-food outlets. Following the success of local fast-food eatery Wild Peeta, run by two Emirati brothers, we’ve seen the launch of more Emirati-run casual eateries, such as Klayya Bakery and Sweets. There’s also been a growth in home-grown fast-food concepts, such as independent burger joints, Best Burgers Forever in Dubai Marina and Sheikh and Shake in JLT, as well as Rossovivo and Oz Pizza, both in Business Bay. While this indicates Dubai won’t be giving up its calorie-laden speedy snacks any time soon, it does illustrate an entrepreneurial and locally-run shift, at an accessible price point, in Dubai’s dining scene. This suggests a move away from chains and heralds exciting, character-filled, times ahead, even for the humble takeaway.
Dining ventures The Shelter, Make Business Hub and The Pavilion have changed the face of eating out in the city, introducing the concept of the workspace café to Dubai, as well as a new interest in multi-purpose dining spaces. We’ve seen this trend continue in the last quarter of 2012, with the opening of a second branch of Sushi Counter, this time on Sheikh Zayed Road, with a Wi-Fi-friendly, workspace-style ambience. Hot on its heels is The Archive in Safa Park, a multi-functional artspace-style project promoting the art and literature of North Africa and the Middle East, as well as offering lifestyle activities such as yoga. It also features a café and espresso bar, neatly incorporated into the ‘library’ space – read more on page 30, and look out for our review in forthcoming issues.
Also proving that this multi-functional vibe is changing the face of eateries in our city, Nais Italian Kitchen in Jumeirah Lakes Towers has incorporated a pop-up-style one-wall fashion boutique into the restaurant’s concept.
Sustainability This year there has been an increased move towards sustainability in all aspects of our eating habits. The opening of Dubai’s first sustainable store, The Change Initiative, is certainly a sign of the changing times in Dubai. The store offers a selection of environmentally friendly and organic kitchen items and also hosts The Taste Initiative, an entirely sustainable eat-in café.
Other areas of renewed focus include sustainable fishing, illustrated by the opening of Blue Flame, a seafood and steakhouse, and seafood restaurant Sea Mood, both offering sustainable seafood menus.
Locally grown and organic produce has also become more significant, with Ripe Market’s success in pushing this agenda marked by the opening of its first shop in May 2012. Several more organic and local produce suppliers have launched this year, including The Green League (now available at Lafayette Gourmet) and Greenheart Organic, which is due to open its first store in Dubai in January 2013.
Dubai now even has its own home-grown sustainable food event thanks to the International Fine Food Festival, which launched in October 2012. Despite the name, the festival’s main agenda is promoting a local, sustainable ethos., and is planned to take place again in 2013.
The Japanese izakaya
This Japanese style of small, sharing plates, eaten during sociable evenings in a bar-style setting, is a concept that rarely translates outside its native country. This year, Asiana Hotel in Deira made the move of bringing it to Dubai, with the opening of Yuraku. Soon afterwards, high-end Japanese haunt Armani/Hashi launched its own izakaya dealss, indicating that the concept will make the leap from unchartered territory to hot foodie trend next year.
In other exciting developments in the Japanese dining scene, this year has seen Dubai-based restaurant Okku open a branch in London, while new venue Tomo has launched in Dubai, offering a highly authentic take on this cuisine, marking a new dawn for Japanese venues in Dubai.
What do the bloggers think?
Dubai’s food bloggers share their predictions for 2013
‘Restaurants daring to focus on lesser-known cuisines, such as authentic Egyptian, Palestinian, Nepalese and Vietnamese cooking.’
‘More home-grown concepts following the success of Table 9, Okku and Roberto’s, although the interest in celeb chefs and imported trends will inevitably continue.’
‘Local and organic vegetables and fruit: there are new providers popping up all the time and the supply chain is becoming more organised and efficient, as growers respond to demand.’
What do you think?
Send us a tweet to tell us your Dubai food trend predictions for 2013: @TimeOutDubai