The UAE food scene is not new to restaurant openings, but the year end has brought a series of exciting names that are worth a mention.
This is Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura’s first restaurant outside Italy. He’s of course the man behind Osteria Francescana, voted the best restaurant in 2018. A retro-themed decor at the Dubai restaurant takes visitors back to the 1960s Italian Riviera where everything is sophisticated but laid back. There’s also a massive terrace overlooking the W Dubai’s private beach, complete with a roaming gelato cart. The kitchen is led by Chef Bernardo Paladini, Bottura’s protege who spent seven years at Osteria Francescana and Franceschetta 58. Signatures dishes include the Tagliatelle Al Ragu, a recipe handed down from Bottura’s grandmother, made with different cuts of beef, slow cooked and hand-chopped. The phrase “Torno Subito” translates to “I’ll be back soon!” and is usually seen on sign boards that hang in closed store fronts in Italy indicating their afternoon break. We see what they did there!
Location W Dubai, Palm Jumeirah Timings Daily from 12pm to 3pm and again from 7pm to 11pm
Sah El Nom
The Damascene-Syrian restaurant has just opened its second branch at Dubai’s newest ‘It’ location, complete with amazing views of Ain Dubai. The restaurant’s concept is inspired by a 1975 Syrian TV show ‘Sah Al Nawm’ and promises homemade recipes that have been passed on for generations. Signature dishes include Ouzi Short Ribs (served with rice and lamb meat cooked with nuts), Ghapama (baked pumpkin stuffed with rice, minced meat and nuts) and Seuberg Spinach (layers of dough with mixed cheese, spinach, dill and bell peppers). There’s also a kid’s meal that comprises of a mini-portion of a main course, paired with a side and salad, along with a dessert and fresh juice.
Location Sah El Nom, Bluewaters Island, Dubai Timings
A new modern Greek dining concept from London’s Marylebone has opened its doors to a new home in the glamourous Fashion Extension of the Dubai Mall. OPSO Dubai celebrates the best of modern Greek cooking with an elevated design concept. Drawing from its Greek roots, ‘OPSO’ directly translates to ‘delectable morsel of food’. Expect sharing-style tapas of authentic greek cuisine. OPSO Dubai is based around three distinct concepts; OPSO Dining, inviting guests to savour a carefully crafted menu in the main restaurant area, OPSO Social, a buzzing social space where friends can unwind in a more relaxed environment, or OPSO Prive, a hideaway for an exclusive evening out, amplified with mezze and shisha overlooking the views of the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountains and Downtown Dubai.
Location Dubai Mall, Fashion Avenue Timings Daily from10am to 11pm
Japanese sushi meets Italian flavours at this new venue in the Capital. The East-meets-West theme promises something for everyone, with everthing from sushi rolls to wood-fired pizzas and pastas. Signature dishes include Makimono rolls, creamy Fettucini, Golfo Del Messico and a special salsa, topped with tender beef strips, mushroom, sun-dried tomato, olives, jalapenos, mozzarella cheese and onion, garnished with guacamole, sour cream and chives. Decor is contemporary with semi-private booths and a spacious outdoor setting overlooking the dancing fountains.
Location Cascade Dining, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Entrepreneur Lena Maniatis wanted to create an interpretation of her homeland by celebrating the Greek spirit with her restaurant, lounge and bar. She wanted to create a bright, welcoming space featuring Greek elements drawing inspiration from the museum of Athens. All art at this space is specially commissioned. Ena also has a large terrace with expansive views of the Atlantis hotel and Arabian Gulf. For the food, dishes are from Maniatis’ favourite food memories including those cooked in Gastra style or clay-pot slow roasting, and a Greek style roasting with vine stems called Ladokola. There is also creamy tarama, almond crusted feta cheese, lamb shank trahana, beef cheek stifado and lamb chops.
Location The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah.
This one’s for a bit of Central Asian vibe, with a modern twist and a lot of attitude. The licensed venue boasts two floors and a terrace seating overlooking La Mer’s beachfront. Serving breakfast and opened until late, signature dishes include Hammour and Shrimp Manti and Crispy Aubergine and Goat Cheese Salad. The oriental-inspired space is full of authentic art sourced from artists around Central Asia. There’s also a live kitchen and lots of grilled items.
Location La Mer, Dubai
ONI Lounge & Restaurant
Oni is a new lively dining spot serving Japanese cuisine at the Shangri-La Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road. The menu is made up of Japanese street food where the dishes served in sharing style plates. Using ingredients sourced from Japan’s north Island of Hokkaido, the food is flavourful. I tried almost the entire tasting menu, which included robata (grilled fish, meat and chicken skewers) sushi rolls, pan fried gyoza and beef ramen. Other menu highlights include wagyu beef tataki, avocado on crispy rice, tuna pizza, seafood okonomiyaki, and semi-dried Japanese rockfish. My favorite was the beef ramen. It is really good in comparison to the young (but flourishing) ramen availability in the city. I would go also go back for the salmon tacos. The design is dramatic and the interiors are very luxe, so you go there when you’re dressed up or looking for a fancy ‘Dubai’ night out. The music is great, without being too loud.
Location 2nd Floor, Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai Timings open daily from 6pm to 3.am
Follow the red neon lights of the Chinese dragon to Fat Chow, one of the new dining spots to hit The Pointe at Palm Jumeirah. Now open for business, Fat Chow serves Cantonese cuisine with sea views. It has like a cool, dark Hong Kong vibeIf you’re into like a goth neon decor, you’d enjoy having dinner there. Classic Fat Chow dishes include Peking duck, Cantonese style steamed chicken, chili crab, wok-fried XO prawns and hammour cooked with ginger and spring onions. There’s also a fun, sharing menu featuring bites, soups, dim sum and bao, as well as noodles and desserts. The dim sum was my favourite part of dinner there, I finished every last one of them.
Location The pointe Palm Jumeirah Timings Open daily from 12pm to 12am
Mama Pho’s mottos is: Vietnamese and Thai food, straight from Mama’s kitchen and it kind of feels that way. The vibe is rustic the furniture is wooden and the view is of the sea. It’s a nice spot for a laid-back midweek bite. Little bit quiet on the weekends though. Mama Pho’s menu includes good, honest pho, (I meaannn it’s in the name!) with two options available; Vietnamese noodle soup and tom yum goong. Other must-try dishes include the lobster wonton, Thai green papaya salad (always a crowd pleaser), Vietnamese noodle soup, the aromatic lychee duck and delicate ginger lotus seabass. Bear in mind that the mains are a bit on the pricy side, as this venue is licensed, and you have to order steamed rice separately, which does add up.
Location The Pointe Palm Jumeirah Tmings daily from 12pm to 12am
Okay hear me out. It’s a fine dining restaurant in an era where people are somewhat over fine dining. But it is a Two Michelin Starred chef who opened this venue, so you have to give it the benefit of the doubt. Chef Mathieu Viannay the culinary mastermind behind La Mere Brazier in Lyon, France recently opened Rue Royale, an unlicensed dining experience at The Pointe in Palm Jumeirah. Rue Royale has taken its fancy name from the street in Lyon where La Mère Brazier is located. This restaurant is expensive. Mains range from Dh150 to Dh300 and the appetisers are around Dh90. But the food is creative, flavourful and you really feel like you’re dining a Michelin level meal. Order the Pate en croute, one of the famous dishes at his Lyon establishment. Also try the scallops with a butter lemon confit and the sea bass with mussels. If you want to dine there without spending an arm and a leg, head over there for breakfast, which should cost you less than Dh80 per person.
Where: Rue Royale – The Pointe West, Palm Jumeirah, UAE
Timings: Saturday to Wednesday from 8am to 10.30pm, 8am to 11.30pm on Thursday and Friday
Snowboarder-turned-chef brings the adventure to the plate with Akira Back, the upcoming Asian fine-dining restaurant at The W Hotel, The Palm Jumeirah. Chef Back, who has nearly 25 years of culinary experience and a number of namesake restaurants across the globe, brings his take on modern Japanese cuisine to the Middle East. His Korean heritage and his American upbringing also finds a dollop of seasoning on the palette.
Expected to open: January 2019
Where: The W Hotel The Palm
Indya by Vineet
Chef Vineet Bhatia is not a new name of the Dubai food scene, with his contemporary Indian restaurant, Indego at the Grosvenor House, already a firm favourite among patrons.
The Michelin-starred chef will has brought a fresh new concept to Dubai with the launch of Indya by Vineet at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa. The restaurant takes a contemporary approach to Indian street staples featuring famous dishes from all around the different states of India. The new venue has an outdoor terrace as well.
Where: Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
With locations in London and Melbourne, this will be the third outpost of the culinary concept developed by the Michelin-star chef, who will work alongside his chef-director Ashley Palmer-Watts on the Dubai opening. The restaurant will include its own bar, two outside terraces, as well as a private dining room.
The restaurant will offer contemporary flavours of British dishes inspired by recipes dating back to the 1300s, which itself stems from Blumenthal’s fascination with history and gastronomy triggered in the late ‘90s after reading a 15-century manuscript known as The Vivendier.
Incidentally, the new property will also be home to another future hotspot — a popular Iranian–American celebrity TV chef and author, Ariana’s Persian Kitchen.
When: No confirmed opening date as yet.
Where: The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences
Located in the upcoming Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, Tasca is a new restaurant by culinary genius Jose Avillez. Named after the Portuguese word for tavern, Tasca will be Avillez’s first international opening, aiming to follow the success of his Michelin-starred Lisbon eatery, Belcanto.
Located on Beach Road, the poolside restaurant will serve authentic Portuguese cuisine with a contemporary twist, with both indoor and outdoor dining.
When: While no opening date has been announced for the restaurant
Where: Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai
Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spas' latest culinary offering, has now opened its doors to D diners. The concept brings a taste of Italy to the heart of Dubai Marina. The earthy interiors, wooden flooring, suspended lighting, marble table tops and neutral textiles make for an Instagram-able location. La Strega promises uncomplicated, authentic Italian food such as Spaghetti Lobster as well as more regional interpretations of Ravioli Burrata with cherry tomato sauce. Diners can also indulge in a selection of antipasti, octopus, mussels, burrata as well as steak and fish served straight from the grill.
Information: Open from 7pm to 12am at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa
All’Onda is a blend of Asian and Italian cuisine. The menu will include a selection of seafood, homemade pasta and risottos and Venetian chicchetti, as well as an extensive grape list sourced from the Northern regions of Italy. Dishes includes Buffalo Ricotta Ravioli with Vine Tomato Sauce and Basil, Peppered Beef Tagliata with soft Burrata and a herby Pangrattato Indian Osso Buco with Saffron Risotto and Risotto All’Onda, made with Madras Curry, Prawns and Shiso. The All’Onda restaurant has a sleek design throughout, reflecting its Venetian heritage, and covers the entire top floor of the Kempinski Emerald Palace Hotel.
Where: Kempinski Emerald Palace Hotel, Crecent West Palm Jumeirah
Popular Indian restaurant chain Copper Chimney, which first opened its doors in 1972, has seen many a celebrity walk through its doors over the decades. Well known for its flavourful kebabs and the artistry that unfolds in its tandoor clay ovens, Copper Chimney has recently found its way to the Millennium Plaza Hotel.
The restaurants signature grills include the reshmi malai chicken and the kalimirch chicken, both heavily influenced by the flavours found in old Delhi, along with the wafer-thin kadak rumali and the paneer tikka, which is marinated more than eight hours.
If the selection of grills aren’t enough, there are eight types or birianis to choose from — even one to keep the vegetarians happy.
Where: Millennium Plaza Hotel.
Stoke House Dining, Bar & Terrace
The recently opened Stoke House Dining, Bar & Terrace, located at the Damac Hills estate, overlooks a lush golf garden that makes for a convenient luncheon spot following the morning tee time.
The menu varies, but hits all the right buttons with signature steaks, classic burgers, fresh seafood delicacy and salads. The terrace area serves as the ideal alfresco dining spot as the weather cools down and features BBQ evenings and pasta nights with live cooking under a massive spinning Parmesan wheel.
Location Damac Hills Estate
Initiated by three Emirati sisters whose passion and love for food was passed on from their mother; “Asma” is set to open its doors end of December in Dubai Mall. The new dining places a contemporary twist on Middle Eastern cuisine, bringing flavours of Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Syria to food lovers.
Asma’s menu reflects influences from the Gulf to destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, including Asma’s Arayes, Musakhan and Beetroot Labneh, cooked with passion and personality, and main courses that range from the freshest sea food like Sea Bream Chermoula, Octopus and Smoked Tomato Prawns to tender meat like Lamb Cutlets, Meat Shakshuka and the famous Middle Eastern Kebab. F
Location Dubai Mall