Weirdest restaurant experiences
Some of the weirdest dishes, locations, menus and more you’ll find in Dubai
Each year Time OutDubaipaysdues to the emirate’s diverse restaurant scene, recognizing places that work hard for your dirhams and satisfied smiles at the end of a meal. In and amongst our research, we couldn’t help but notice a few gems that deserve celebrating for something odd, unexpected or extreme that they can do better than anyone else. From Dubai’s best toilets, to its most dangerous dishes, here’s our alternative list.
Tong Thai, set in the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay, is a huge venue that seems to go on forever while you’re walking to your table.
The journey is worth it, though, as the dining room has a great vibe and is almost always bustling. Being a stylish venue in a high-end hotel, Tong Thai is, as you’d expect, at the upper end of the spectrum when it comes to prices, but the food is all very good indeed.
Try the steamed, purple chicken dumplings – the casing is just the right thickness to give it some bite and the filling is superb.
From the signature dishes section of the menu, the crispy tiger prawns are a solid choice, with a punchy green peppercorn sauce. Grilled red snapper wrapped in banana leaf is another highlight.
All the classics are on the menu and you won’t go far wrong with anything you pick. Tong Thai has won a Highly Commended award at our Restaurant Awards more than once for many good reasons, and we expect it to keep hitting those heights.
The bottom line
Classic Thai food, done well, in a fancy setting.
For many Dubai residents, heading to Palm Jumeirah represents something of a journey, especially to a venue almost at the end of the Crescent. Mekong, however, is worth the drive. Set in the beautiful Thai-style Anantara resort, the dining room is a grand space, all red and gold with vibrant Asian imagery on the walls. Service is welcoming without being overbearing and if you need help navigating the menu, which mostly features cuisine from Thailand, but takes detours to Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and China, it is there. You can expect to pay prices in line with the super location, especially if you’ve eaten any of the dishes in their home countries. Thai dishes really shine, and if you’re not too adventurous, the curries are great, especially the massaman, which has a rich, creamy sauce and the ever-present hum of Thai basil. Deep-fried sea bass is another highlight, as are the various dim sum. This former Time Out award-winning restaurant isn’t somewhere you’d eat weekly, so get dressed up, try something new and enjoy.
For casual beachside fare, you can’t get much better than Dubai institution Bu Qtair. Set along Jumeirah Beach Road, it’s not fine dining but we neither expect nor want it to be. You’ll find plastic seating outside and you can’t reserve a table at this fuss-free seafood spot. There’s no menu, either. What you’ll get is the catch of the day, or prawns, in a curry sauce. Simple, fresh and delicious. Service is friendly and fast too. There are no fancy touches but the food is so tasty you won’t notice.
With its lofty perch some 68 storeys up the imposing JW Marriott Marquis, some people come to Prime68 for the stunning vistas of the Dubai skyline. But we say it’s a long way to go just for a nice photo opportunity. This place is superbly stylish and if you’re feeling romantic, grab one of the booths lent a sense of privacy by the silk strings that drape down from the ceiling. Once seated, the welcoming staff will help you pick through the inventive line-up of hot and cold appetisers. Appetite whetted, it’s time to hit the “Butcher’s Block”, the nuances of which your server will delight in explaining. Prime68 takes immense pride in the meat it has sourced. The main menu has a solid selection of steaks, epitomised by the Signature Prime68 Fillet Sampler. This trio of 130g cuts – USDA, Irish dry-aged and wagyu – lets you sample the chef’s magic touch when it comes to seasoning and grilling in the Josper. All three are satisfyingly juicy and should be savoured alongside some crunchy sweet potato fries. If you’ve left room, order the Prime chocolate journey for afters – it’s the perfect pick-me-up if you’ve slipped into a food coma.
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