Home to over 200 nationalities, Dubai’s cultural diversity is reflected in its fine dining scene – from exquisite Peruvian and flawless French to contemporary Japanese and inventive Indian. And with world-renowned chefs flocking to open new restaurants in the city, visiting gourmands are in for a treat.
One of the most exciting new arrivals is Enigma at the Palazzo Versace Dubai. It flies in a different celebrity chef every three months – all gleaned from the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list – with the menu kept secret until you sit down. Quique Dacosta, whose eponymous restaurant in Spain holds three Michelin stars, was a recent guest chef.
In a city not short of excellent steakhouses – The Rib Room at Jumeirah Emirates Towers and Ruth’s Chris Steak House at The Address Dubai Marina are firm favourites – J&G Steakhouse at the new St. Regis Dubai has made a big impression. On the menu are steakhouse classics, including dishes inspired by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten – the soy-glazed short ribs are to die for.
Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton, meanwhile, has made his Dubai debut with Marina Social at InterContinental Dubai Marina. Serving a British-Mediterranean menu of tapas-style dishes in relaxed yet stylish surrounds, it has a top wine list too with over 1000 bins. Another chef to embrace a less formal style of fine dining is three Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck; the Mediterranean dishes at Social by Heinz Beck at the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah are, nevertheless, perfectly executed. La Petite Maison, a world-renowned Provençal-inspired bistro in Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), is also known for its convivial setting and outstanding food, as is French-Mediterranean favourite La Serre in Vida Downtown Hotel.
If starched white tablecloths are more your style, Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire at InterContinental Dubai Festival City remains the city’s finest French restaurant, with Gagnaire’s three Michelin-starred molecular reputation evident in menu and service. Equally impressive is the offering from his thrice-starred compatriot, Yannick Alléno, at STAY by Yannick Alléno at One&Only The Palm. Try the signature Extractions Pairing menu – the chef spent four years perfecting the technique that results in incredibly intense flavours. Meanwhile, old-school Italian glamour rules at Cipriani Dubai, which has recently opened its chic doors in DIFC. The menu includes Cipriani classics such as Carpaccio alla Cipriani and the signature Bellini.
Asian is another cuisine that the city excels at. Known across the world for its expertly crafted dim sum, Hakkasan at Jumeirah Emirates Towers also boasts one of the city’s best wine lists, curated by head sommelier Olivier Gasselin. Coming in at number 88 in Restaurant Magazine’s 2015 list of the World’s Best restaurants, Zuma in DIFC does contemporary Japanese izakaya-style sharing plates like no other, while the Asian-inspired sharing plates at Novikov – laden with truffle and foie gras – are as opulent as the décor (be sure to peruse the seafood counter overflowing with interesting delicacies like Portuguese goose barnacles). A hit in Moscow and London, the new Asian fusion restaurant at Sheraton Grand Hotel is already popular with Dubai’s jet-set crowd.
Staying with the fusion theme, Nobu at Atlantis, The Palm serves chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature Japanese dishes with a Peruvian twist. The sleek dining room is impressive but when the weather is balmy, be sure to book a table in the garden. Of course, Peruvian cuisine has exploded in cosmopolitan cities around the world and Dubai is no exception. Coya at Four Seasons Resort Dubai, the Middle East outpost of the celebrated London restaurant, serves sublime ceviches and tender antichuchos (barbecue skewers of meat) in one of the city’s most stunning dining rooms.
Dubai is home to plenty of excellent seafood restaurants including two spectacular spots with floor-to-ceiling aquariums where the sea life swims right past your table. You’ll need deep pockets to dine at Al Mahara at Burj Al Arab or Ossiano at Atlantis, The Palm but the ‘underwater’ experience and exceptional seafood are definitely worth it. Meanwhile, the vibe at Catch at Fairmont Dubai is more edgy and industrial – a nod to its original location in New York’s Meatpacking District – but the Asian-influenced seafood dishes are designed for sharing.
With Indians and Pakistanis making up Dubai’s largest expat population, it’s little wonder that exceptional South Asian cuisine abounds. A Michelin-awarded concept hailing from Manhattan, Junoon has become the go-to for inventive, yet authentic flavours since opening at the Shangri-La. Ask the knowledgeable staff for tips, and you won’t be disappointed. Indego By Vineet at Grosvenor House Dubai also strikes the perfect balance of restraint and inventiveness – as you would expect from multi-Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia – and the faultless food is matched by exceptional service. Another restaurant that’s nailed the often-tricky marriage of tradition and contemporary flair is Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar at JW Marriott Marquis. With vivid murals and soft orange lighting, the striking space from London-based celebrity chef Atul Kochhar feels surprisingly intimate.
Fine dining at Coya