While the likes of Nobu and Rhodes Mezzanine have put Dubai on the culinary map, by and large the city’s five-star dining is as good as what your friends would get back home and, likely, twice as expensive. Fortunately, some of Dubai’s most unique eateries are also some of its least expensive. And the city’s multicultural demographic ensures there is a great variety of cuisine available.
If you want to give your guests a true taste of Dubai, you might as well start with an Emirati breakfast. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding serves up traditional Emirati food every Monday at 10am. Call ahead though, as reservations are essential (Dhs50, 04 353 6666). After that, several cuisines are strongly represented in this city. Arabic cuisine is an obvious choice, and one excellent place to sample a variety of Arabic food and some shisha is at Wafi’s Khan Murjan restaurant (04 324 4555), located in their recreated 14th century Baghdad souk. Not only is the food excellent, but the decor – the place is awash in antique stained-glass – is exquisite, and the space is ripe for people watching. There is also a hefty Iranian population in the city, and one of the best places to sample kebabs and saffron rice is at Pars Iranian restaurant (Al Diyafah Street; 04 398 4000) in Satwa. The staff is super friendly, and the al fresco vibe offers something a little different to five-star dining.
As Indians and Pakistanis outnumber Arabs in this town, it would be a huge mistake to miss trying some of the city’s Subcontinental fare. For some excellent (and purely vegetarian) Dhs12 thalis, go to Karama’s Aryaas (Karama, opposite Lulu’s Hypermarket, 04 359 5441). For Indian with a European twist, you can’t beat Indego (Grosvenor House Dubai, 04 399 8888), which has no shortage of excellent fare (the haute samosas, with combos like asparagus and goats cheese, make a seductive starter). Deira, though a bit of a trek for many, has some amazing restaurants, not least of which is China Sea (Al Maktoum Street, 04 295 9816). The setup is unique – you point to raw ingredients and then 15 minutes later, the staff bring you a meal that is both sumptuous and fresh.
‘Al Dawaar in the Hyatt Regency is fun for tourists. It revolves, so you get a vista of Deira while you’re eating, and the food’s pretty good, considering it’s a buffet. And Reflets Par Pierre Gagnaire. Well, if you’re in Dubai, you just have to do it.’
Alexander, British blogger on www.thefatexpat.blogger.com
Tip from a tourist
‘My favourite experience in Dubai was the desert safari. Rushing through the sand really makes you feel alive.’ Manal Fares, 28, Lebanon. Try Desert Rangers on 04 340 2408 to book a trip.