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wgallois

Good and bad in Dubai

132 posts in this topic

Good: Fatafeet, an Egyptian restaurant on the Creek. Super location overlooking the water, a very big range of Egyptian and Lebanese dishes, and very good ingredients used in standard dishes such as tomato and cheese salad, and fatayer (the sweet fatayer with honey and nuts was the standout dish on this first visit). About $8-12 a head which is a fair bit more than many restaurants of this type, but this is a notch above the competition. They also serve shisha.

Bad: Da Gama, a Portugese restaurant in Century Village which, for some unexplained reason, mainly serves Mexican dishes. Not actively bad, but overpriced (c.$35 a head for two courses with a few beers and some shisha) for what it is, especially as all the Tex-Mex dishes are inferior to cheaper options like Chillis. It is in a complex of restaurants surrounding the Dubai Tennis stadium, whose chief virtue is the fact that you can eat, drink and smoke shisha outside. The Irish Village pub on the other side of the stadium is probably a better bet.

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Also bad: The Agency at the Emirates Towers hotel. Basically a wine bar that serves food. The wine-list seems good, but it is expensive and the glasses are pathetically small. We shared a fondue, some olives with manchego and some mushrooms with a remoulade. The fondue was bland, until you dipped your bread in the kirsch (which for some reason was poured into a separate ramekin, rather than into the fondue) and then it was too boozy; the mushrooms were basically deep-fried fish-and-chip-shop efforts, and the remoulade a mayonnaise; the manchego was of a fairly low quality and slavered with balsamic vinegar, though the olives were good and this dish came with a whole head of roasted garlic which was a nice touch. These three dishes, with three cheapish glasses of wine and a Perrier: $65. A much better bet is the Noodle House which is opposite this restaurant.

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Three more places in Dubai...

Nice place, blandish food - India Palace. This is one of the smartest Indian restaurants in the Emirates with a beatiful wooden interior, appealing, live sitar/tabla music, icy air-con, and a man making bracelets by the cash desk (?). Upstairs there are 'family booths', which are popular here with Emiratis but would be a lot of fun for anyone in this restaurant. The menu is ver, very extensive (c. 200 items) but I found the food to be no better than competent, in part because it was much less-daringly spiced than most other Indian restaurants in the Gulf. The spicing was very similar to the 'Indian' food one eats in the UK, though the clientele were by no means all westerners. It does not serve alcohol. The bill for four was about $90, which I found pretty reasonable, and I would go back there again for the experience, without expecting fireworks from the food.

Mixed opinions - Lemon Grass. This is a new Thai restaurant near Lamcy Plaza. I thought the food was reasonably good and interesting, but my wife was less keen and I don't think our guests enjoyed it much, though they didn't say as much. Menu items were pretty standard, though the decor was pretty smart and stylish. I had some dull spring rolls, and then what seemed like a good green curry (full of interesting things, such as figs), while others had Tom Yam soups (a pain pullling all the lemongrass, lime leaves etc. out of the soup) and a couple of chicken dishes. Seeing that Durian was on the pudding menu, I decided to try this for the first time, and had it with some sticky coconut rice. It was neither as smelly nor compelling as some had led me to believe it could be. Again, no alcohol served, with a bill of around $85 for four.

Pleasing - Come Prima. The Al Bustan Rotana has a number of good-ish restaurants, such as branches of Blue Elephant and Benihana, but we had never tried their 'Tuscan' restaurant before. It is more expensive than most independent Italian restaurants in Dubai, but worth it as the food and service are of a comparatively higher standard. The food is generally fairly simple, based on good ingredients, and served in a fresh, unfussy way. I had a tasty leek and potato soup with tomato bruschetta and basil, which was excellent, while my wife had a fairly ordinary caprese salad. As a main she had courgette flowers filled with ricotta, tomato and another cheese which I forget, while I had a saffron risotto with courgettes and sage. It was listed as also coming with courgette flowers, but the perfect cooking of the tiny courgettes they used made up for this ommission. For puddings I had a molten chocolate cake with green tea ice-cream, while my wife had a mint pannacotta with berries. Both were good. We were the only diners in their for most of the evening, so you would hope that the service would be good, and it was actually much better than simply 'good'. Another good touch were the excellent breads, brought with tapenade, roasted garlic and tomato before the starters. Overall, I thought it was a restaurant where everything was planned with an unusual degree of care, and would recommend it pretty strongly.

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Pretty good - Retro, in Le Meridien Mina Seyahi. This hotel has a great deal for Emirates residents in the slack summer months, whereby you can have a seven-course dinner plus a room in the hotel (with early check-in and late-ish check out) for c.$70 per person. Before dinner we had drinks at the Barasti Bar which, for a supposed Dubai drinking institution, was really mediocre. Our Cosmpolitan and Mojitos came in plastic half-pint glasses and neither were at all well-made: the Cosmopolitan was basically a boozy cranberry juice and the Mojito was a powerful lemon squash. We managed to over-indulge on the peanuts which then made the seven courses at Retro too much of a challenge (so no comments on the cheese and Creme brulee which we missed). The restaurant is fairly stylish in a kind of 'nineties timeless' kind of way, and the service was excellent throughout. The wine list is pricey, with only one wine for less than $30 (a pleasant Rose d'Anjou which we had) and little below $50 (some hideous mark-ups I guessed).

The amuse was a very successful carrot soup with, we think, essence of kaffir lime leaves: frothy all the way through and both delicate and rich. Then came a tomato and onion tart with a Rocquefort and melon salad which was pretty good without being inspirational; followed by a slightly bizarre fruity salad, which would probably have made more sense had it included the chicken we vegetarians ommitted (we had let them know well in advance that we were vegetarian, and they made an effort to accomodate us without over-exerting themselve, probably because we were on the cheapo deal). Then a lemon, basil and gin sorbet that tasted only of the lemon squash I had had earlier in my Mojito, and a main of wild mushroom risotto, which was a very good example of the dish as it was packed full of different wild mushrooms, included some wild rice which was a nice textural touch, and was topped with some leek tempura - I know it was good because I ate mine and most of my wife's plate too. Looking at the a la carte menu, the prices seemed pretty steep for what the place delivered, though it was nice enough. The 'hit' dishes such as the amuse and the risotto were evidence of real cooking talent.

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Went to Fatafeet a couple of days ago for lunch. It seems they do their main business at night, as we were the only customers there in the afternoon. We had stuffed pigeons, foul madames and okra stew. Their menu is extensive. However, the stuffed pigeons did not taste fresh (I guess it is difficult to have such a dish made the same day). The okra was tasty and the meat in the stew was tender. We were also given an aubergine salad - this consisted of sliced aubergines covered in a garlic, chilli and oil dressing. It was tasty and very spicy. We had two big baskets of bread - Egyptian bread and pitta bread. Overall I'd say this is a good restaurant. I would go there again in the evening (when the weather is cooler and you don't have to sit right next to a huge AC unit) for a better atmosphere, shisha and some mezze!

Very good: Blue Elephant in Al Bustan Rotana Hotel. We had the buffet special for 95 Dhs. Good choice of dishes, including a pick-it-yourself stiry fry that is cooked for you there and then. I noticed they had a special vegetarian section as well. The service was immaculate. We felt like royality. The dessert section was amazing - such a wide range of fruits (as well as some other Thai desserts). This included lychees, jack fruit, mangoes, melon, mangosteen, papaya, pineapple and water melon. Definitely worth a visit. One member of my party assured me that he had never seen such a comprehensive wine list (in Dubai) as the one at the Blue Elephant.

Very good: Noodle House in Emirates Towers. We had to wait 30 minutes for a seat (they do not take reservations), but it was worth it. The seating is on long benches, refectory style. We had beef szechwan, steamed rice and cantonese style duck for the main course. For starters we had chicken dumplings and vegetable spring rolls. All the dishes were tasty and refreshing. The beef contained a balanced mix of black bean sauce, stir fried veg and onions and chillies.

Enjoyable: Chilis in City Centre shopping mall. For Mexican fast food, this restaurant is a good place to go to. The atmosphere is relaxed and the portions very generous.

As usual: Clay Oven was excellent. Had the vegetable kadahi - yum yum yum. We ordered peas pilau as well as Naan. It is great with the Naan. For 4 of us the bill came to 115 Dhs (£19)!! Such excellent value on top of a delectable meal - what more could you ask for?


Edited by reddevil (log)

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Very, very good indeed: The French Bakery, just off the Defence roundabout, Sheikh Zayed Road. A really top-notch pattiserie with a large cafe attached. The pastries are made with top-notch ingredients (a real rarity in bakeries here), and are consequently rather more expensive than most, but they are most definitely worth it. All the chocolate pastries are excellent, with the millefeuille being the best I've tried. The strawberry cheesecake is good too.

Mixed: Bice, in the Jumeirah Hilton. Plusses: great caprese with a huge and very, very fresh mozarella; a fun olive-oil promotion with an oil trolley brought to the table; tasty truffled ravioli. Minuses: expensive, for what it is; my gorgonzola salad had three small cubes of cheese amidst the leaves; the ravioli was advertised as having a fresh truffle element, which it most certainly did not have (black truffles from a jar and white truffle oil were used), and mine had a hair in amongst the ravioli...

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Mediocre: 'The Noodle House', a pan-Asian place in the Emirates Towers shopping centre. Had quite enjoyed on previous trips, but the food seemed pretty bland and expensive when we went there this week. It was packed out, which I think may be part of the problem as the clientele are basically looking for a bit of fuel to accompany their drinks.

Fun: 'Andiamo' in the Grand Hyatt. Very glitzy and fun location (rain-forest in the lobby), with tasty reasonably-priced Italian food. The restaurant is a bit naff and the food is by no means spectacular, but I was sold by the good bread (which they kept on bringing all evening), the excellent, grassy olive-oil, and the very good service.

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Good: Indochine at the Grand Hyatt

I have very little experience of Vietnamese food, so I do not feel very able to comment on the authenticity of the food at Indochine. That said, I think it is a very good restaurant and I would not be surprised if those with more experience of such cuisine felt that it did justice to Vietnamese food.

Overall I was impressed by the level of care that went into all parts of the operation: cooking, quality of ingredients (very visible in the open kitchen), the nifty interior design (Oriental with futuristic back to the '20s touches, in keeping with the hotel in general), and the attentive service. The restaurant was almost empty, though I think this is more a reflection of the glut of hotel restaurants in Dubai.

Standout dishes, for me, were the grilled aubergines and the morning glory with garlic. The Vietnamese beer was also excellent.

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Wgallois, thank you so much for this post! I am heading for Dubai in a couple of days and it is good to have some advice from someone with first hand experience. The Clay Oven sounds like a definite goer! :smile:

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Have fun Trixy and have a look at the other Dubai/Sharjah threads (on Verre, Burj al Arab etc.) on here, if you haven't already. Feel free to PM me if you need any info on bars, souks, deserts etc!

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Have fun Trixy and have a look at the other Dubai/Sharjah threads (on Verre, Burj al Arab etc.) on here, if you haven't already. Feel free to PM me if you need any info on bars, souks, deserts etc!

Thanks! I have checked out all the threads, it was very informative. Your offer of a pointer in the right souk direction is readily accepted, expect a pm soon! :biggrin:

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Has anyone been recently? I'm going to be there soon. I've done a bit of research and while Verre sounds interesting, I live in London and spend lots of time in Western Europe where I can get this kind of food at a very high quality so am not that interested.

There were a few places recommended to me - Chandelier, Fakhreldine (the original is here in London but I'm wondering if access to materials for mid-east cuisine is better in Dubai so am thinking of checking it out) and a few other persian restaurants... and the restaurant in the Royal Mirage, the name is escaping me.

Would love reccomendations as well as advice about the spice souk?

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Chandelier is great and I love the outdoor shisha pit dining but you can sit at a regular table. Mind you I've only had their mezze which were nice but I haven't eaten a whole meal there.

My fave place recently has been Retro at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi. Extremely inventive cuisine. I can't wait to go back and try their set menu.

I also recently ate lunch at Beachcombers at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel which is Asian influenced food. I had a superb Spicy Thai Prawn Salad and my husband had an excellent Duck Curry. Plus it's right beside the Burj Al Arab so you get an excellent view of it!

The atmosphere is excellent at many of the eateries at the Madinat. The Meat Company steaks are outstanding. I liked the tapas at Al Hambra, but wasn't thrilled with the mains. Napa is pretty good. I've heard great things about Pierchic, The Wharf, Shoo Fee Ma Fee and Jambase. (Actually most of the restaurants and cafes there have had good reviews.)

(I live in Dubai, by the way, but have only recently arrived. I'm happy to help answer any questions I can.)


A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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My fave place recently has been Retro at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi. Extremely inventive cuisine. I can't wait to go back and try their set menu

Arbuclo, that sounds lovely. What kind of food is it?

Thank you for the other suggestions, and can I ask you one more thing? Is Dubai really as good for shopping as everyone insists? Any stores or things that I shouldn't miss buying? I've heard all about the Gold Souk but people have also been telling me that I should find a place to buy pashminas. I definitely want to do that, they make good birthday presents for the other women in my family!

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Dubai!!!!! Home sweet home :)..I live in Montreal now, but grew up in Dubai...well, IM not originally from there though...anyways to cut my story short ..I will give my recommendations based on ersonal experience and taste

1. for the best Lebanese (higher end): Head to Mawwal in Al-Bustan Rotana hotel (if you go on a weekend, it comes with the bellydancer and all :wink: ..Alternatively Mejana in Le Meriedien. If you want a more casual less expensive spot, I recommend Goodies in Wafi mall Safadi on Riqqa Road,and for a quick shawarma or saj sandwich your best bet is to go to Dyafa road( little shawarma only place, forgot the name..or AL Mallah)

2. Best Indian: - high end: Asha (contemporary) and there's a great one in Sheraton Deira (traditional). Well priced and great food: Jewel of India in Bur Dubai

3. Best Sushi : Very high end: Minato. Fun: Chocho's (hot spot on weekends) . well priced: YO shushi and Sushi Sushi

4. Best italian: Casa Mia in Le Meredien

5. Thai: I recommend Lemon Grass which is close to Lamcy plaza

6. Chinese: I love Peacok in Sheraton Jumeira Beach

7. Popular hangouts where u can have a nice bite: Cosmo, SHaekespear & co

8. Indo-Latino: Teatro

and if u dont feel like leaving the comfort of your residence: call RSD (roomservice deliveries) ..they deliver from over 50 restaurants!

*** Prices judged according to Dubai standards (Dirhams not Dollars)

Enjoy! great time to be there :smile:

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For great selection of Pashmina: go to Pride of Kashmir in Deira city center (Mall)

...Actually u'll find many shops in the heritage section..but thaats the one i shop at..have fun :biggrin:

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My fave place recently has been Retro at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi. Extremely inventive cuisine. I can't wait to go back and try their set menu

Arbuclo, that sounds lovely. What kind of food is it?

Thank you for the other suggestions, and can I ask you one more thing? Is Dubai really as good for shopping as everyone insists? Any stores or things that I shouldn't miss buying? I've heard all about the Gold Souk but people have also been telling me that I should find a place to buy pashminas. I definitely want to do that, they make good birthday presents for the other women in my family!

Here's an entry from my personal blog about my visit to Retro. I'll try to scan the menu in and post it here too.

There is good shopping here from designer clothes, electronics, inexpensive clothes, copy watches and hand bags (which you'll have every second person at the gold souk asking you if you want to by them). Karama is an area where there are lots of places to buy the latter. I also just bought a bunch of pashminas there. I bought 80% pashmina 20% silk ones for about AED28, but I'm sure you could do even better. As Nora mentioned you can also buy pashminas in malls. You'll always be able to find at least one shop that sells them. Other fun souveniers are stuffed animal camels that sing in Arabic, music boxes shaped/painted like an Arab man in a dishdasha etc, mosque alarm clocks where the alarm is the call to prayer (funny and novel but there wasn't a volume control on the one we got and it's LOUD! :laugh: )

Pan, thanks for posting my foodblog link. Akiko, you'll see pictures of Goodies, which Nora recommended, in there. It's excellent!

If you want to book anything at the Burj, you should do so ASAP. I can call an make a booking for you; it'd be no problem. Just tell me when you want the booking and any alternative dates/times since it's tough to get in there.


A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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Here's an entry from my personal blog about my visit to Retro. I'll try to scan the menu in and post it here too.

I just printed out your entire foodblog on here. I had no idea, and its the best guide to Dubai that I've seen yet. The only book-guide I could find was the Lonely Planet one. I've actually been surprised at how little information I've found about the city when its such a big tourist destination.

Arbuclo, that meal at Retro sounds amazing. I didn't think I wanted to eat anything like that in Dubai since there is so much of that creative food going on here in London and Paris and New York, all cities I'm in a lot for work. But I just might have to have a meal here. In fact, I just asked my husband to make a reservation.

Middle Eastern food is the type of food I'm least knowledgeable about. What is Zaatar?

My husband is in the hotel industry which is why he's so often in Dubai but he spends all his time in hotels and really knew nothing about the food scene outside of where he goes for meetings. He hasn't been very impressed by the inside of the Burj, he says its much better to look at it than be in it. Do you think its incredible on the inside? I wasn't planning on going in.... I heard that you have to buy an entrance ticket?

Arbuclo, thank you so much for the information, its going to make my trip so much richer.

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Akiko, zaatar is a yummy spice mixture of thyme, sumak, salt and sesame seeds. I'm sure you can get it at the spice souk or any grocery store. (I'm embarassed to say that I haven't yet made it to the spice souk!) And it'll be offered in dishes at middle eastern restaurants.

As for the Burj, it's nice inside but I do agree with your husband, it's nicer to look at from the outside. One of my fave buildings in Dubai. You can definitely see it beautifully when dining at some places in the Madinat and Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

If you go to the gold souk see if you can find a shwarma stand. I had the yummiest one there during my food blog.

Oh, you might enjoy a dhow dinner cruise. Time Out Dubai did an article on them in last month's issue. I can't find it on their website but I could scan it and email it to you if you like. I saw that Le Meridien Mina Seyahi has just started one too. There's isn't at the creek it's at the Marina which is at the base of Palm Jumeirah, so that might be an interesting one. The food on the dinner cruises doesn't tend to be that terrific but you normally get a belly dancer and the experience of cruising the creek is very nice. (By the way, the Time Out Dubai website does have a lot of food reviews, I just don't agree with all of them! There's also this website that I go to for restaurant info.)

Where will you be staying? I might be able to come up with some more ideas based on where you'll be. When will you be here?

Oh, and I was thinking...you also get a good view of the city from Emirates Towers Vu Bar (I think there's a restaurant up the top of the building too; you could check their website).


A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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Arbuclo I'm not in Dubai for very long! My husband does a lot of consulting in Dubai and is always back and forth. I decided that since this particular consulting assignment takes him over the weekend, I should get to go too. Your recommendations are already too many for me to get to in my short 3 days. But since hubby is there at least 4 times a year and thinking of opening an office there, I'm sure this will not be my last visit.

I have in the recent past been completely fascinated by Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, French, British, Chinese/Sichuan, Mexican, Hawaiian, Indian, and my native Japan's cuisine but Middle Eastern is completely new territory for me. I'm fascinated by the spices, laban, and the other things that were on your food blog and things that I'm stumbling across in my research on Dubai. I have a feeling this is the start of a new love affair... and I already have too many spices and cuisines than there is time to cook in a year!

We're staying at the One and Only Royal Mirage and I'm looking forward to just walking around that place and being on the beach (has been dreary and rainy in London recently). Is it already too hot?

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Isn't there any local food in Dubai? nothing from the Emirates at all? No restaurants serving this?

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Isn't there any local food in Dubai? nothing from the Emirates at all? No restaurants serving this?

Yes, there is few restaurants with local fare but don't hang your hopes too high as it is a mix of Middle East and Indian dishes which in all honesty does not do justice to either of the cuisine.

Having said that, I recommend for you to visit Madinat Jumeirah and look for Al Makan restaurant just after the entrance on your right. They offer inside/outside seating and two distinct menus, one local and one Lebanese/ME. They do not serve alcohol but a fantastic range of freshly squeezed juices. The food of both menus is very enjoyable and the setting overlooking the man made river is very eery.

Alternatively, try the Kan Zaman or Al Bandar restaurants for local cuisine. Simply ask any taxi to take you there.

Enjoy.

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... and I already have too many spices and cuisines than there is time to cook in a year!

We're staying at the One and Only Royal Mirage and I'm looking forward to just walking around that place and being on the beach (has been dreary and rainy in London recently).  Is it already too hot?

I know what you mean about too many spices/cuisines! My cupboards are full of a great variety of them for different cuisines! The One and Only is beautiful! You'll have a great time there and you'll certainly be able to see the building of Palm Jumeirah! It's pretty hot, high 30s but the pools should be chilled.

I went to the Burj yesterday for afternoon tea, the sunset and a drink at their Skyview bar. Food is only so-so and expensive at the bar (though the restaurant menu for the place at the top looks good) but I had such a lovely time with friends and the view was wonderful. Sadly the sun just disappeared in the haze yesterday without a proper setting! LOL :raz: (Oh, I forgot to answer your entrance fee question about the Burj. You need to have a booking at a restaurant or bar inside in order to get in the front gate. So there's no fee, but you do have to buy something.)

As for Emirate cuisine, Almass is right, there's not much to speak of. The official cuisine of Dubai seems to be Lebanese. :shock: Which is fine by me...yum!


A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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Hopefully you can read this Retro menu I scanned!

gallery_12852_1166_70305.jpg

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gallery_12852_1166_18260.jpg


A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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