One of the most exciting events of the year is the Dubai Food Festival (DFF). The annual festival of all things food is back, but with precautionary guidelines in place.
The city-wide festival of food will be celebrating the culinary capital of the region, Dubai, with a 24-day event that will showcase Dubai’s gastronomy offerings. Expect specially-curated menus at top restaurants in Dubai offering fine dining meals at attractive prices that save customers up to 50 per cent when dining out.
The event, which takes place until April 17, will focus on four main highlights of Dubai’s food scene: rich culinary diversity; authentic and homegrown cuisine; unique restaurant experiences; value for money.
This year, one of the major flagships of DFF, the Etisalat Beach Canteen will be returning at the end of 2021 when visitors and residents can all enjoy the city during optimal weather.
During this year’s DFF, diners in the city will also be able to try out ‘once in a lifetime’ dining experiences including signature dishes, unique ingredients, masterclasses, chef’s tables, and dining experiences, in partnership with the city’s best restaurants. Additionally, appearances by celebrity chefs, cooking competitions, one-time-only promotions in malls across the city and more.
For 2021’s edition, the festival is introducing some brand-new food initiatives to the event, as well as delivering on the festival’s popular annual concepts.
Highlights of the 2021 festival will include:
Dubai Restaurant Week (March 25 to April 10)
This year, not actually running a week, but a whopping 17 days, Dubai Restaurant Week is a major player of DFF. Dubai Restaurant Week is a great opportunity for food fans to enjoy attractively-priced set meals at their favourite restaurants, or to take advantage of up to half price deals to experience somewhere new. Two-course lunches start at Dh95, while premium three-course dinner experiences start at Dh150.
This year’s edition features more than 40 of Dubai’s finest restaurants across a range of culinary styles, including Torno Subito, Brasserie Boulud, Nobu, Hakkasan, Toro Toro, The London Project, Bella, BOCA and many more. Culinary masterminds behind the curated menus include some of the best chefs in the world, such as the likes of Massimo Bottura, Akira Black, Heinz Beck, Daniel Boulud and Gordon Ramsay.
The list of restaurants signed up for Dubai Restaurant Week 2021 showcases a variety of flavours and cuisines that can be found among Dubai’s famous food scene. With over 40 restaurants to choose from, gastronomes will be spoilt for choice.
This year’s selection of restaurants are also positioned around the city at some of Dubai’s most iconic locations including Akira Back at W Dubai with views of Palm Jumeirah’s skyline, Cé La Vi at Address Sky View Hotel with Burj Khalifa views and Mediterranean favourite, Shimmers at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam overlooking the globally-recognised, Burj Al Arab.
DRW also gives food fans the opportunity to try something new, with a selection of restaurants that are new to the city including The Pangolin Restaurant and Lounge at Els Club Dubai Sports City, contemporary Asian fusion restaurant, Taiko at Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk WAFI and The MAINE Land Brasserie located in Business Bay.
Foodcations (March 25 to April 17)
Escape to a culinary-themed vacation with special Dubai Food Festival deals at top hotels in Dubai.
This year, DFF added a new element to their festival, the foodcation. An experience where you can basically take your staycation to the next level by indulging in a foodcation, at some of the city’s finest hotels.
Enjoy a great stay and amazing food, all in one place. This year 16 different hotels around Dubai are participating in a special foodie focused staycation. This includes The Meydan Hotel, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort, Armani Hotel Dubai, Grand Hyatt Dubai, and many more.
The foodcation usually involves complimentary meals, a special masterclass and experiencing restaurants all over the hotel.
For example, you can go all out at the Armani Hotel, where you can enjoy a two-night stay for two, and be treated to a gourmet breakfast every morning. For lunch, dine out on a three-course set menu and take advantage of a Chef's Table experience with Chef Giovanni. When it comes to dinner, take your pick from the diverse dining venues available and get a 10 per cent discount all from Dh4,620.
Or if you are looking for a more pocket-friendly option, opt for the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Canal Views where for a price of Dh310 per night, guest can enjoy breakfast and either lunch or dinner on the house, and get 20 per cent off on all food and drink throughout the one-night stay. You will also receive a recipe box full of fresh ingredients to create your very own gourmet meal.
Participating hotels include:
The H Dubai
The Meydan Hotel
Melia Desert Palm Resort & Hotel
Armani Hotel Dubai
Mӧvenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai
Paramount Hotel Dubai
Radisson Blu Hotel DubaiWaterfront
Hyatt Regency Dubai CreekHeights
Holiday Inn Bur Dubai Embassy District
Dukes The Palm, a RoyalHideaway Hotel
Radisson Blu Hotel DubaiCanal View
Grand Hyatt Dubai
Pullman Dubai Creek CityCentre
Bab Al Shams Desert Resort
Foodie Experiences (Until April 10)
Dubai Food Festival 2021, the 24-day citywide culinary celebration — is hosting its third edition of Foodie Experiences, featuring Masterclasses, Chef’s Tables and Experiential Dining adventures. A selection of the experiences on offer includes:
Dibba Bay Oyster Box Jumeirah: Dibba Bay Oyster Experience
Dates: 1, 8 April
Get to know the UAE’s local oyster farm whilst learning to shuck your own oysters at the Dibba Bay Oyster Experience against the backdrop of a stunning sunset at the fishing harbour. The experience includes an oyster shucking class, a workshop on local oyster farming and indulging in gourmet oysters.
1004 Gourmet: Everyone can learn to cook Asian
Date: March 31
Take advantage of this online Asian Food Masterclass Series. You will learn to serve three popular Thai dishes, slurp your noodles or serve up sushi like a pro – Japanese style — from the comfort of your home, using everyday kitchen equipment and utensils.
Folia: Live Cooking Demo with Chef Matthew Kenney
Dates: March 28
Log on from the comfort of your own home and join American celebrity Chef, Matthew Kenney, for a Live Coming Demo, which centres around plant-based cuisine. Chef Kenney’s menu is served in Folia restaurant at the upscale Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach.
BOCA: Workshop & Dinner with Spanish Paella Master Chef
Dates: 4, 5, 7 April
Say hola to visiting paella master and renowned Valencian chef, Vicente Rioja, as he collaborates with BOCA’s Chef Matthijs Stinnissen to create paella recipes that pay tribute to local ingredients and flavours from the UAE.
Brasserie Boulud: Virtual Cooking Class with Celebrity Chef Daniel Boulud
Date: April 8
Chef Daniel Boulud, owner of the first Brasserie Boulud restaurant in the Middle East, will be hosting an exclusive 60-minute virtual cooking class, resulting in an intimate French meal that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your home. Partnering with Classic Fine Foods, all participants will receive a box of ingredients to be used during the class.
BOCA: Chef’s Table Tasting Menu
Dates: March 29, 30, 31 March, April 1, 2
Chef Matthijs Stinnissen’s imaginative Winter/Spring ‘21 tasting menu at BOCAis a six-course sharing meal celebrating the UAE’s rich heritage by weaving together platters sourced from native flora, hydroponic cultivations and the bounty of the Arabian Gulf.
3fils: Omakase Chef’s Table
Dates: March 29, 30,31 and April 5, 6, 7
3fils in Jumeirah Fishing Harbour is offering an eight-course immersive Omakase Chef’s Table with a uniquely curated Asian fusion menu featuring dishes including Cream & Truffle Warm Custard with Confit Egg Yolk & Wakame, Chopped Otoro Enomak with Red Chimichurri and A5 Wagyu & Un.
Taiko Dubai: Schilo’s Chef Table
Dates: April 4
Founder and Executive Chef of Taiko Amsterdam, Chef Schilo van Coervorden fuses Middle Eastern influences to reimagine contemporary Asian cuisine through an inspiring and highly imaginative menu. Closed to the general public, the highly exclusive and limited-edition event at Taiko Dubai promises a personal, interactive and engaging dining experience around the Robata Grill.
Huna: LMNTL: 5 Courses. 5 Elements.
Dates: April 7, 8, 9, 10
Huna will host LMNTL, a vegan multi-sensory dining experience which takes you on a journey through the senses. Representing the five fundamental elements of the universe — water, the lowest point, to space and the highest point - each course will be presented by Chef Priyansh, of The Prunch Kitchen.
Choix Patisserie and Restaurant par Pierre Gagnaire: Afternoon Tea Experience
Dates: Daily until April 10
Embrace a Parisian lifestyle with a premium collection of delicacies from three Michelin star chef, Pierre Gagnaire’s afternoon tea menu. This award-winning afternoon tea features delicate finger sandwiches, delicious pastries, and mouth-watering cakes with a Parisian twist.
Pai Thai: Discover the Five Tastes of Thailand
Dates: Daily until April 10
Take your tastebuds on a trip to Thailand with Pai Thai’s Five Tastes of Thailand five-course tasting menu with beverage pairings, against the backdrop of Dubai’s tranquil Madinat waterways. The menu will explore the five key flavours of Thai cuisine: bitter, salty, spicy, sour and sweet.
Platinum Heritage: Fine Dining Desert Experience
Dates: April 1, 2, 3 April and April 8, 9, 10
Stay cosy in the comfort of your own candle-lit cabana and take in the tantalising aromas as expert chefs prepare your meal on site. Start Platinum Heritage’s six-course luxury dinner with sunset canapes and let the evening unfold as you feast on dishes prepared with fresh local ingredients.
Mirzam Chocolate Makers: The Hai High Tea!
Dates: March 30, 31 and April 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10
Switch up the traditional tea-time snacks with a detour along the Spice Route in a collaborative three-level menu presented by bean-to-bar chocolate makers Mirzam and Asian speciality grocery store 1004 Gourmet.
Sonara: 1001 Arabian Nights
Dates: April 3
Be whisked away to Sonara Camp for an evening that includes dance performances, camel rides, sand boarding, traditional sports like archery, fun activities for all ages, a daring fire show and a movie under the stars. En route to your destination, you will journey through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, home to UAE’s oryxes and gazelles.
Lowe: A Night Under The Stars
Dates: March 30, 31
Head to Al Barrari for A Night Under the Stars in the NASAB Amphitheatre where you can indulge in a luxury picnic basket filled with special items whilst watching a screening of ‘The Hundred Foot Journey’, a foodie classic.
This year, DFF has teamed up with Zomato to bring you the best restaurants and cafes off the beaten track in Dubai, serving up budget meals and homestyle staples.
A long list has been released by DFF, which includes Sweet Treats, Asian fare, Comfort Foods, Nourishing Nibbles and Middle Eastern.
Some of the gems listed include Karakna Lugma W Chai, which serves Emirati bites reimagined with modern ingredients. Indian and Far East Asian food is front and centre in the Asian segment, with gems such as DIFC’s Gully Kitchen, renowned for its nostalgic, ready-to-go Indian rolls and bowls, along with Oud Metha gem, the Korean restaurant, Gangnam.
Places such as Pietza Pizza and its brick-oven pies, along with the Business Bay based Bisso’s Bakery, with its oven-fresh bites, from brekkie skillets to dessert feature on the Comfort Foods long list.
Other restaurants that get the thumbs up are places such as Casa Da Venice in JLT, Moerish in Oud Metha and Sallora Restaurant & Sweets, offering pocket-friendly Middle Eastern meats and sweets.