The first feeling one is confronted with in Dubai is bewilderment. The opulence, running that fine line between good and bad taste, the organization and the seemingly unending desire for expansion. It is the unofficial capitalist capital of the world. I say unofficial because everything in Dubai seems slightly veiled; there is no taxation and during the holy month of ramadan – most restaurants and shops are literally veiled in the day time. There’s always this mystery as to how a desert has managed to attract some real rain clouds through scientifically engineered flora. Its un-natural and unbelievable. In terms of finance, it has become a sort of camping ground for european private banking, even the dependable State Bank of India has a branch in Dubai, with private wealth mangers like Credit Suisse for neighbors.
This is the economics of Dubai. Its flashy and all encompassing. Wait a minute…. this is supposed to be a food blog. Well, the food scene in Dubai is pretty integrated with the economy of not only the city, but the entire United Arab Emirates. For starters, nothing grows in Dubai, you’ll need to go to other emirates such as Fujairah or Ras al-Khaimah to find any sign of sustainable agriculture. Dubai eats imported food, and it’s mostly of the highest quality on the planet.
In 2014, Dubai attracted 13.2 million people. It’s international airport was ranked 3rd busiest in the world in 2015, it was number 6 the year before. It’s not unfathomable to expect it be the busiest in the coming years. There are multi-cultral mouths arriving all the time and they’re looking for food.
Indian Food is big. You’ll find a “Raju Omelette” serving bun and eggs starting at 9 dhs (around 165 INR) to be as popular as a molecular gastronomic experience at “Tresind” that will set you back 250 dhs per head (I’m being pretty frugal here). The quintessential dubai biryani can be sampled at “Gazebo“, with branches all over town. I would describe it as a mix of Kolkata and Mumbai biryani (leaning more toward Mumbai – no potatoes). There’s more great indian places which represent more regional and specific cuisine’s such as “Calicut Paragon” in Al-Karama, which serves great Kerala food or “Maharaja Bhog” for a fantastic gujarati style thali meal. This is a cuisine that is democratic and delicious – available at all levels of cooking and price points.
Dubai is home to a huge number of expats form the United Kingdom, there are plenty of tourists from this part of the world as well. Whenever Dubai is presented with a new audience, it evolves and it evolves faster than you can imagine. There are now over a hundred places in Dubai that proudly associate themselves with the Union Jack, this wasn’t the case even 3 years ago. There are numerous UK style pubs like “McGettigans” and “Chelsea Arms” serving up that nostalgic experience, god save the queen. Even British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has a presence in Dubai with restaurants such as “Bread Street Kitchen” and “Verre” (he’s not with the latter anymore). This is expensive food, a meal at bread street kitchen will cost you at least 175 dhs. That pound to dirham exchange rate ensures that the good times literally keep rolling, once again-god save the queen.
Japanese cuisine is very well represented in Dubai. The city has a seemingly inexhaustible craving for it (as do I). Lets be clear, you will be hard pressed to find truly Japanese food in dubai. The high end places are fusing it with south-american or european flavors and the low end places like “Yo Sushi” serve americanized sushi, you’ll have your fill of california roll and edamame here. “Hashi” at the Armani hotel which is housed at the ground level of the tallest building on Earth serves some truly delectable and refined food. This is also one of the most expensive dining experiences in the city (north of 450 dhs a head). I love japanese food in all forms (good or bad) so the city is a sushi/sashimi/teppanyaki lovers delight. “Zuma” is another great (and another expensive) place to visit for its food and vibe. Japanese food will cost you the most in Dubai, if you want the real deal (which is pretty much how it is all over the world).
Some of the other really fantastic dining experiences I have in dubai were at :
– Zahr El-Laymoun – authentic and healthy Lebanese fare (mid priced, low for dubai)
– Social by Heinz Beck – modern and brilliant Italian (expensive)
– Royal China – great Chinese food (mid priced)
For specific and detailed reviews of the restaurants mentioned and beyond visit : zomato.com/crispysoft