Packed with the latest insights and understandings on the region’s lifestyle, dining and travel trends, the latest Spending Habits survey conducted by American Express Middle East reveals Dubai’s favourite cuisines. But are they what you might expect…?
Number 5: Mexican
The centre of nutritional superfoods thanks to native staples including avocado, tomato, lime, corn, beans, squash and chilli peppers. This cultural variation is rich with antioxidants and healthy food that taste like a festival in your mouth. What makes this cuisine special is that it can be split into two parts. One, being Mexican street food or what’s served in most Mexican restaurants outside Mexico as a variety of Tex-Mex. Including tacos, quesadillas, pambazos, tamales, huaraches, alambres and al pastor. Then there are the elaborative homemade dishes which involve complex or long cooking processes that could take hours if not days to prepare.
Try it at:
Poco Loco, a modern Latin American restaurant where the flavours of traditional dishes from Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and other Latin American countries meet today’s urban lifestyle. Located at The Beach, a dynamic development opposite JBR, it’s the place to be for good food and good music with regular live entertainment showcasing throughout the week.
Number 4: Chinese
China's regional cuisines are so varied it's hard to believe they're from the same nation. It’s often an adventure of flavours and textures that make you question your gutsiness. But in this part of the world, you’re most likely to come across mainstream Chinese-American dishes such as stir-fried chicken and Mongolian beef that come in takeout boxes with a pair of plastic chopsticks. Nonetheless, there are, of course, upscale Chinese restaurants that hit your taste palate like you’re in Beijing with a variety of dishes featuring different types of duck meat, seafood, chicken and meat.
Try it at:
Hakkasan, an award-winning Chinese restaurant in Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Embracing traditional techniques and fresh local ingredients, Hakkasan ensures its contemporary dishes retain the essence of conventional Cantonese cuisine.
Number 3: Italian
Full of zesty sauces and crafty creations made of flour, olive oil and cheese, the Italians sure know how to eat. That’s aside from the tomato, mushrooms, garlic, pasta – oh, and what is a good wood-fired pizza without the fresh aroma of oregano and thyme? This kitchen is also known for its dishes’ tongue-rolling names that make any foreigner feel like a native speaker. Just try reading this out loud: “Can we have one Ribollita Classica and a Spaghetti alla Carbonara?” Impressive, we must say.
Try it at:
Bussola, a sea-view restaurant at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina. It’s known for its fine-dining experience, with a mouth-watering selection of traditional Italian dishes, as well as Chef Marco's take on Italian cuisine, with classics from the north to the south of Italy.
Number 2: Indian
Aside from curries, around 20 to 30 basic spices are used in its many dishes – cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ginger, to name a few – and there are infinite ways of using them. Just try flipping through an Indian cuisine cookery book without finding an ingredient list that runs a page long. An added treat is in for vegetarians as this cuisine’s tongue-tingling spices and sauces breathe life into vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, peas, and aubergine.
Try it at:
Gazebo, one of the UAE’s popular Indian restaurants with branches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Al Ain. Gazebo has been in the region for more than 15 years, molding signature dishes into forms that can be appreciated by and personalised for the adventurous novice and discerning veteran alike.
Number 1: Arabic
This cuisine stands out with its multilayered identity. It comprises regional cuisines spanning various Middle Eastern and Levantine countries and is one of the oldest out there with a unique mix of Ottoman, Persian and Indian influences. It's not a food culture you can easily summarize except to say it often looks like a lavish table of sharing platters with grills, rice, vegetable stews and bread at arms-reach, reflecting the hospitality and generosity that this region is known for. It’s packed with many unique flavours that make it a favourite to many.
Try it at:
Em Sherif, a Lebanese fine-dining restaurant that brings back forgotten traditional flavours from across the region. Located in Address Downtown, it serves dishes to the likes of everyone that are marinated and intensely smoky yet cooked with a welcome lightness.
The American Express Middle East Spending Habits Survey 2017 is an in-depth study carried out among 750 consumers from six countries; UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Lebanon to gain insights on the thoughts and habits around spending.