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wgallois

Good and bad in Dubai

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Ok, to put it like this; What kitchen is held with the highest reverence within the business in Dubai? What restaurants stand out when it comes to consistent quality, innovative cooking and good vibe in the kitchen? Is there one restaurant all cooks in Dubai would want to work in?

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Don't know if his restaurants qualify as good or bad according to the experts here :wink:, but Ingo Maas, the executive chef at the J.W. Marriott Dubai, has put out a new book on Arabian cuisine, written with his sous-chefs...you can see a couple of photos over here!

I do not know Ingo Maas and cannot comment on his book or his talent. I assume the book is about his Marriott cooking or maybe about Middle East food as there is nothing called Dubai or Emirates food per se!

However, what I can say is that the Marriott in Dubai is not and has never been on the Dubai culinary map. Their only restaurant worth an entry would be their steak house and that's about it.

So good luck on the new book to join on the shelves endless other books. T'seems the trend started with the Jumeirah food book is picking up speed in sunny Dubai.

Now, I brace myself for a deluge of other hotel chefs producing books ad nauseum.

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Ok, to put it like this; What kitchen is held with the highest reverence within the business in Dubai? What restaurants stand out when it comes to consistent quality, innovative cooking and good vibe in the kitchen? Is there one restaurant all cooks in Dubai would want to work in?

Sorry got to laugh about the last line "Is there one restaurant all cooks in Dubai would want to work in".

Yes there are many such kitchens. All cooks want to be in there, however it is not for the high standards or vibrant kitchen but for the work environment, benefits and pay packet.

If I was a Chef, I would want to work at the Hyatt Regency in the Persian rest as it is open plan and the chefs are not limited in their vision to a greasy wall but can see the entire diners. Then again, I am not a Chef and it is a bias opinion.

Verre was voted again this year as the top rest. But we all know that this was not a popular vote and is strictly limited to the food writer of a certain local weekly mag. So no contest as we have the single opinion of one person.

Now, you may ask which is then the top restaurant and unfortunately you will get only personal views on that as there is no authority on the subject All mags needs the hotel revenues and will not jeperdize their milking cows.

What is the best rest for me, would be a mix of food standard, environment, service, entertainment. So a personal top ten in no particular order would be:

- The Mawal rest at the Rotana.

- The chinese at Mina Salam

- Bice at the Hiton

- Grill at the ex Intercont

- The Turkish eatery off Sheikh Zayed road. (for strictly one particular dish)

- The Morocan at the Royal Mirage

- The Indian at the Sheraton

- The Japanese at the Towers

- The fish at the Beach Centre

- 19 at the Golf thingy

Particular mention for the Four Seasons RoastBeef panini with a touch of Dijon Mustard.

There is no chance in hell that these rests be voted top rests in Dubai and frankly that would do me fine.

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Well, thank you Nicolai, for intelligent answers. This is consistent to what Ive read earlier, but I guess I was hoping that someone would mention one standout place that is better than all others. The reason Im asking is that after a couple of months staging in the US andEngland Im looking for work. I have free accomodation in Dubai, but I do not want to move donw there if I cant find work a a place that is extremely good.

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Don't know if his restaurants qualify as good or bad according to the experts here :wink:, but Ingo Maas, the executive chef at the J.W. Marriott Dubai, has put out a new book on Arabian cuisine, written with his sous-chefs...you can see a couple of photos over here!

I do not know Ingo Maas and cannot comment on his book or his talent. I assume the book is about his Marriott cooking or maybe about Middle East food as there is nothing called Dubai or Emirates food per se!

However, what I can say is that the Marriott in Dubai is not and has never been on the Dubai culinary map. Their only restaurant worth an entry would be their steak house and that's about it.

So good luck on the new book to join on the shelves endless other books. T'seems the trend started with the Jumeirah food book is picking up speed in sunny Dubai.

Now, I brace myself for a deluge of other hotel chefs producing books ad nauseum.

:laugh:

The book is really a product of flavors and ingredients from the Middle East mingling with Western haute techniques, more or less. The photography is quite stunning, though I haven't made anything yet. Plan to soon, and will keep you posted on the results.

Interesting to hear your opinion on the Marriott's place in the culinary world out there...


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

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I just got back on monday from dubai and would highly recommed the lebanese restaurant at Emirates towers, we sat outside and smoked sheesha, and dined on mezze and the ubiquitous harmour and had a very enjoyable time. Verre was outstanding but obviously not "local" cuisine. We also went to Bab al shams - about an hours drive out of Dubai and ate at Al Hadeerah, £70 p/h got us an amazing traditional buffet, lebanese wine and traditional entertainment camels, belly dancers, singing etc and the ability to sit on the rooftop bar and watch the sunset over the desert as camels wandered by. Beautifully done and not as touristy as it sounds. Q'ds was great for sheesha and is in a great location on the creek. Basta Art Cafe was fab for lunch - in the bastakia quarter near the museum. Wish i was still there - Enjoy!!!


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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I also just got back from holidays. I spent two wonderful weeks around the Arabian Peninsula. My first stop was Sharjah...

Sharjah is just north of Dubai. It's a little less crowded, but since most people living in Sharjah seem to work in Dubai, the traffic in the morning and late afternoon is horrendous. But it's a beautiful emirate, nonetheless.

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My first meal was at a restaurant on the Qasbah. No pictures of it as it wasn't very interesting, but it wasn't bad at all. We then dropped by Carrefour and picked up some sweets. arbuclo mentioned in her foodblog (from ages ago) that Carrefour had a good selection of Middle Eastern sweets, so I thought I'd see for myself. We picked up some Turkish delight, baklawa, I can't remember, and halvah.

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My Turkish delight came with a bonus

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When I first saw it, I thought it was a clump of sugar, but no such luck. It was some kind of cocoon. Everything not wrapped went into the garbage. All for the best, since what I had tried was stale. I guess not all Carrefour are equal.

Next up, Dubai...

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Dubai is an interesting contrast of the traditional and the modern.

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In many ways, Dubai is very much like a large city (yes, I know Dubai is an emirate, not a city, but city is a pretty good comparison) in a third world country that is starting to develop at a rapid pace. Think Bangkok in the 80's. I didn't like it. The food, on the other hand, was not bad.

We had lunch in the Bastakia area, which is just a short walk from my friends' apartment in Bur Dubai. The XVA is just behind the Basta Art Cafe nikkib mentioned. Their menu is, surprisingly, entirely vegetarian. At our table was

the soup of the day (carrot),

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a rice thing with yoghurt,

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eggplant with halloumi,

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eggplant feta burger,

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murtabak with pita,

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and the best mint lemonade in Dubai.

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The mint lemonade was like a slurpee--icy and refreshing, and it had the perfect proportions of mint and lemon. Yum. The favourite dish was the eggplant feta burger. It was so good, Amy, my friend's partner, and I went back for another one!

gallery_11355_4456_37554.jpg

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murtabak with pita,

gallery_11355_4456_15433.jpg

It is good that you have enjoyed your trip and thanx for the pics.

But are you sure this dish is Murtabak?

Looks like Mutabal?

Maybe a mix up in naming?

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But are you sure this dish is Murtabak?

Looks like Mutabal?

Maybe a mix up in naming?

Oops. Yes, it's mutabal. I was going from memory, and my memory only remembers murtabak (I've used that word more often than mutabal, so it's more prominent in my mind).

I have one or two more Dubai posts, then off to other parts of the Arabian peninsula. I loved the area--except for Dubai, that is...

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Still in Dubai. On our way to the spice souk, we happened upon an orange juice stand. Freshly squeezed orange juice, anyone?

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I didn't have any, but my friend always gets her orange juice from this stand. She says it's very good.

The spice souk was interesting, but almost all the stores carry the exact same things.

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I left the souk about $50 poorer, but armed with vanilla beans (about $6 for 10), some very potent menthol, lavender, frankincense (I think, I've forgotten already), and I can't remember what else. We also got some very good salted lemon almonds. I wish I had gotten more of those.

After the souk, we went back to the Bastakia area, which looks like this at night:

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We were able to get last minute reservations for Bastakiah Nights. They had several tour groups coming in that evening, so they gave us a private room.

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The food, Lebanese, was good, but not great. The atmosphere, however, made up for the food, making it an all-round great dinner. The only offer a course dinner--mezze, your choice of main dish, and dessert.

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Sorry for the flash pictures. The room was quite dark, so it was difficult to get good pictures.

Next stop, Yemen.


Edited by prasantrin (log)

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Rona... this is great, thanks so much for the pics. It's so long since I've been in the Middle East and this brings it all back, the fresh orange juice, the spice souk etc. But I find it bizarre to see mezze on square plates with cheffy touches. A sign of the times!


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

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More square plates with cheffy touches to come! A lot of the newer restaurants in Dubai and Sharjah are very frou frou. I'm sure they have a lot of very good hole-in-the-wall type places, but all my friends are ex-pat workers, so they tend to dine at ex-pat type places. I almost went to an Automatic, but got lost and ended up at...shhhh....KFC. I was delirious with thirst from an accidental 3.5km walk (and the prospect of the 3.5km return walk), and needed something fast!

The last place I dined at was a fairly new Lebanese place in Sharjah at the Qasbah. I told our server I'd post the name on the internet, so they could get more business, but I can't find the card right now. It was a beautiful space, and the food was quite good, though I don't know if I'd say it was the best Lebanese food I've ever had. I much prefered it to Bastakiah Nights in Dubai, though, and it was also quite a bit cheaper! Restaurants in Sharjah have a difficult time, because Sharjah is much more conservative than Dubai. There was a time when a woman couldn't even wear short-sleeved shirts in the Emirate, but now that the Sheikh has paid off the debt to Saudi Arabia, the Emirate is loosening up a bit. Still no shisha (aka hookah, water pipe, etc.) in Sharjah, though, and that's what sends diners into Dubai rather than Sharjah.

Cold mezze and fattoush. I liked the chunky thing closest to the front. And the pomegranate seeds were a very nice touch, not just in terms of presentation, but for their flavour, as well. The fattoush was a little more tart than I like, but my friend loved it, and said it was the best fattoush she's ever had.

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Hot mezze

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The cool bread bowl, which I think was shell.

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And the dessert sampler, from left to right, a coffee-flavoured square, cheese filled cheese, two kinds of...mamoul? and some kind of pudding/custard.

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And I flew out later that night (at 2:30am), laden with dates (plain and filled), pastries, jilebi (I couldn't help myself! I love the stuff and can't get it in Japan), spiced nuts, cookies from Wafi Gourmet (also seen in arbuclo's foodblog), and assorted spices.

Quite honestly, I hated Dubai. It was dirty, crowded, and not very tourist-friendly. Sharjah was a little better, but I still wouldn't want to live there. I was in the UAE in part to visit friends, but also to do some reconnaissance since I was thinking of teaching there after my term in Japan is done. I have a feeling I missed my chance to be happy living in the UAE by about 3 years. My friends tell me I'd be happier in Abu Dhabi, but I'm not so sure. Perhaps in another 2 or 3 years, I'll try again. For now, though, I think I'll stay away.

Oman, on the other hand, is still an option, and I'm looking forward to going back to the area and exploring there a bit more. And Yemen...I haven't been to very many countries, maybe only about a dozen, but Yemen is most definitely my favourite country, and I will most certainly go back there one day. I must go to Socotra and Shibam of skyscraper fame, after all!

More Dubai/Sharjah pictures on webshots.

Oman post

Yemen is here and here.

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Thanks for your fine reports, Rona. I really enjoyed going through the photos on webshots. You have some really wonderful ones of children in Yemen.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Does anyone have a recipe for the delicious lime and mint drinks that seem to be everywhere? Am having withdrawal symptoms....


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Hello

The best of the best today is the new restaurant "Karam" at the Kempinsky and it is really the best Lebanese food in Dubai or the GCC for that matter.

There is a new fish place with a Lebanese twist at the Dubai Marine called Flooka.

Morrocan don't have a clear winner and the Royal Mirage is best for ambiance as food levels is very similar in the other places.

For date jam and such, Bateel is good and don't forget to get the chocolate covered dates filled with almonds or hazelnuts and carry a large water bottle.

You can find Bateel at the new Burjuman and go up to Hediard for a Blue Mountain coffee to exercice your credit card.

Does Karam still exist? I'm looking at the Kempinsky website and I can't seem to find it? Has anyone else been recently? I'm thinking about visiting the restaurant, provided it still exists!

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Does Karam still exist?  I'm looking at the Kempinsky website and I can't seem to find it?  Has anyone else been recently?  I'm thinking about visiting the restaurant, provided it still exists!

I haven't been, though had I been more together, I'd have gone there instead of Cafe Havana when I was at the MoE. According to Time Out Dubai, they were still at the Kempinski in March 2007. Here's the review.

By the way, I had some pretty mediocre meals in Dubai--the Boardwalk (at the Golf and Country Club), Cafe Havana...those are the ones I remember most. I should have tried to find the food court at MoE, but I was beat by then!

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Thank you prasantrin, I guess the Kempinsky doesn't consider it inside the hotel. Instead its listed as one of the restaurants in the mall of the Emirates. I'm going to try and get there, I'll let you know what its like.

Has anyone been to Zheng He's? I've been hearing good things.

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Does Karam still exist?  I'm looking at the Kempinsky website and I can't seem to find it?  Has anyone else been recently?  I'm thinking about visiting the restaurant, provided it still exists!

I haven't been, though had I been more together, I'd have gone there instead of Cafe Havana when I was at the MoE. According to Time Out Dubai, they were still at the Kempinski in March 2007. Here's the review.

By the way, I had some pretty mediocre meals in Dubai--the Boardwalk (at the Golf and Country Club), Cafe Havana...those are the ones I remember most. I should have tried to find the food court at MoE, but I was beat by then!

Yes i agree bout the boardwalk, although i think "mediocre " is a bit generous


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Thank you prasantrin, I guess the Kempinsky doesn't consider it inside the hotel.  Instead its listed as one of the restaurants in the mall of the Emirates.  I'm going to try and get there, I'll let you know what its like.

Has anyone been to Zheng He's?  I've been hearing good things.

Hi all, I posted a few months back on this thread but I am finally back in Dubai (arrived today!) for the start of my 18 month secondment with a UK law firm here. Am very excited to try out the gastro delights here and to share them with you. I actually am off this evening for a few days in Seoul and then 1 week in Singapore with the parents. Hopefully I'll be refreshed in 2 weeks time for my first day in the office...

Akiko-san, I went to Zheng He at the Madinat 2 months ago when I was down in Dubai on business. We had a table outside and I must say the food and the setting was spot on. I am a british born chinese with Singaporean origins and I think I know good food when I see it! Definitely recommended ! I have pictures somewhere but my main PC is currently being shipped here from London together with my personal belongings...will try and repost some pics. The portions are slightly on the small side though. You will also need to reserve a few days in advance for a seat outside at a popular dining time. It wasnt a business dinner but I would certainly go there again! :smile:

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I just got back from Dubai and I think my conclusions are that I've got to stop going to the restaurants inside of the hotels. They are consistently decent but no better than that.

We went to Karam, Zheng He, Spectrum, and to the little Italian cafe in the Emirates Towers because Al Nafoora was closed due to an unforeseen emergency. All of them are decent to good none of them are great. I still think there's great food to be had in Dubai, I just now think its probably at a restaurant not linked to a hotel. Something more frequented by the locals... I'll try to find it next time.

My favorite place for the mezze is still Chandelier.

I have pictures of the food at all of these places... I'll try to post them when I get a chance.

Oh, the dates from Bateel continue to be absolutely delicious. I just bought a box to take to America on a trip to visit family next week. They think they don't like dates, wait until they taste these.

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I just got back from Dubai and I think my conclusions are that I've got to stop going to the restaurants inside of the hotels.  They are consistently decent but no better than that. 

We went to Karam, Zheng He, Spectrum, and to the little Italian cafe in the Emirates Towers because Al Nafoora was closed due to an unforeseen emergency.  All of them are decent to good none of them are great.  I still think there's great food to be had in Dubai, I just now think its probably at a restaurant not linked to a hotel.  Something more frequented by the locals... I'll try to find it next time.

I was only there for a couple of weeks, but from what I sampled, I think most of the food, particularly at middle to high-end restaurants, in Dubai is mediocre, even the food at places frequented by "locals" (the Boardwalk was highly recommended by Dubai residents, but the food there wasn't very good, at all).

I think the best Dubai has to offer is in the little schwarma stands, hole-in-the-wall Indian places, etc. If you stick to those, you'll have a good meal.

That being said, I really liked the food at XVA in the Arts District. The eggplant burger was quite good, and the mint lemonade was the best I had (and I had it a lot while I was there!).

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A very generous company is paying for me to go to Dubai for a 3 day conference in mid-March.

It comes with a free meal at the Asado.

Other than that, I'm looking at good quality places of any region of the world (although I've yet to have good Lebanese and I love Moroccan cuisine), in the region of £10-20 a meal (which my currency convertor tells me is 72-145Dhs). I'm looking at lunch only, as dinner is (again) generously provided.

Out of the previous recommendations on this thread for Lebanese and Moroccan, and the Thai place, which ones still stand?

Which non-alcoholic beverages are recommended apart from that ubiquitous mint lemonade?

Should I learn basic Arabic to communicate with the waiters?

Finally, should I negociate prices with the vendors in the spice souks, and if so, at what price are they likely to start (e.g. twice the usual final value)?

Thank you in advance!

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