The top restaurants in Dubai take will take you on a culinary journey through Asia
Once you exit the Pier 7 elevator, 20 candle-proffering monks are there to greet you as you walk through a dimly lit corridor to this mysterious and seductive new establishment. The scent of lemongrass wafts in the air as contemporary shehnai music plays. This sensory journey echoes a menu that pays homage to the ancient spice route from Asia Minor to the Far East. Ingredients are cherrypicked, repackaged and presented in unexpected ways. The Thai maki encapsulates all the varied elements of Thai coconut curry in one bite of sushi and the ubiquitous miso cod gets a Persian makeover with sultanas, olives and pine nuts.
Pier 7, Dubai Marina; +9714 276 5900
Named after the ancient southeast Asian tribe whose descendants now mainly live in northeastern Thailand, Lao’s vast menu also gives a nod to Cambodian, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Indonesia influences. The dark wooden setting is understated and an outdoor terrace, while not giving the same spectacular views as other outlets on Palm Jumeirah, has a pleasant ambience.
There is an impressive selection of starters, including banh cuon dumplings – usually used to mop up leftovers in the Vietnamese pantry but here translated into delicately steamed parcels of minced shrimp goodness. Bite-size spring roll amuse bouches and a fabulous Vietnamese hot and sour fish soup, laden with generous dewy chunks of striped bass and trout and water spinach, pack a punch. Indeed, you could feast in style on the starters alone, together with pho, an array of soups and salads like green papaya, drenched in a spicy citrus dressing, and bypass mains like soy roast crispy chicken, grilled salmon and Lao-style lamb rendang altogether. Just be sure to try the sticky rice (the Lao were known as the children of sticky rice) and leave room for the exquisitely rich chocolate molten cake with green tea ice cream.
Waldorf Astoria, Palm Jumeirah; +9714 818 2222
Mint Leaf of London
An Indian restaurant that comes to the Gulf via London is definitely a curious by-product of globalisation. Though the restaurant doesn’t claim to be fusion, it can’t help but pick up the customs of the places it has inhabited. One of those is the glorious Bloody Mary, made with slow-roasted tomato juice and punctuated by homemade Worcestershire and hot sauce. The Kerala-style meen moilee boasted a velvety coconut curry while the lamb shank could be equally at home in a hip gastropub. The sprawling restaurant and lounge with dramatic windows overlooking the Burj Khalifa is the perfect setting for a business lunch or post-work cocktails with Mumbai millionaires, British bankers and anyone in between.
Emirates Financial Towers; DIFC +9714 706 0900
During yum cha, the traditional Chinese meal of tea and dim sum, heated trolleys packed with bamboo steamer baskets are rolled around as diners call out their orders. This typically noisy and messy affair gets a genteel upgrade in the Atlantis’ fine dining establishment, Yuan. With its high ceilings, pristine decor and the dramatic overhead installation of silver fluttering birds, patrons are a long way off from the hole-in-the-wall establishments that usually serve this fare in southern China. However, the entirely Chinese staff and the variety of well-executed dishes ensures the restaurant maintains an authentic soul. A yum cha meal is a bit like opening presents on a birthday; each twee package reveals a surprise interior. Be prepared to be wholly thrilled with what is inside.
Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah;a taste of the orient +9714 426 2626