Dubai’s latest restaurants highlight the best of world cuisines.
True to its name, Ají (meaning chili in Spanish and taste in Japanese) packs a punch above the rest at the new Club Vista Mare dining complex on Palm Jumeirah. Ají takes diners on a gastronomic journey to discover the intertwining Japanese and Peruvian flavours that define Nikkei cuisine. For an appetizer try the soft shell crab causa with fluffy whipped potato and escabechado sauce.
While the eatery is new, the concept has been around for some time, famed Japanese chef Nobu has been a purveyor of the fusion cuisine since the late 1980s. Expect a casual vibe with interiors flanked by Peruvian prints and graffiti, cherry blossom trees, oriental-style birdcages and luxe green leather seats in the lounge, which is ramped up with a live DJ every evening.
Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah; +971 4 552 0244.
Fish Beach Taverna
It’s everything a seafood restaurant should be – charming, quaint, no-fuss interiors and the sound of the ocean for company. Whilst the design leans towards the Greek islands with hues of whites and blues, the food is authentic Turkish with fresh fish from the Aegean Sea flown in daily. The dining theatrics are traditional with waiters bringing trays of cold starters, including cacik, yogurt mixed with cucumber, garlic and mint and pancar, a fermented beetroot dish with mustard, honey, green apple and olive oil, to the table.
Hot starters are made to order but the highlight of this beachfront restaurant is the open-fire grill. Whole red mullet and juicy tiger prawns are seared to perfection over the flame and seasoned simply with only salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon. For the cooler weather, the hearty casserole dishes are a good choice; try the pan-fried sea bass cooked in a celery root spiked saffron sauce.
Le Meridien, Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina; +971 4- 511 7139.
Located on the 49th floor of the Nassima Royal Hotel, La Môme is a homegrown French restaurant and bar inspired by the nickname of iconic French singer Edith Piaf. It ticks all of the boxes for the perfect date-night spot; cityscape views, white table cloths, candles and red roses, yet La Môme manages to exude fine dining without being stuffy or overly fancy. Perhaps, this has something to do with the owners being on-site and unafraid to get their hands dirty, which is a rarity in Dubai.
The focus is on seasonal, fresh ingredients cooked with a generous dollop of butter resulting in rich, classic French dishes. Entrées include foie gras on brioche and escargots dressed with parsley butter, while beef bourguignon and the classic steak tartare are on offer for mains. The whole lemon sole, deboned tableside, has an unctuous texture served along with creamy garlic potato gratin and sautéed green beans.
Nassima Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road; +971 4 308 0470.
When the F&B group that has brought culinary gems like Coya, Zuma and Nurset to Dubai opens up another station in the city, you know you’re in for something special. Rüya, a Turkish restaurant, has recently opened up in Grosvenor House and is the latest concept from the Dogus Restaurant Entertainment and Management Group.
The chic interiors of the restaurant include dark wooden flooring, a large clay oven in the middle of the room, a buffet style set up to one corner, a well-stocked bar at the other, flanked by a row of tables near the edge of the terrace that offers stunning marina views. Commandeering the kitchen is none other than globetrotting Chef Colin Clague who has worked at Pollen in Singapore, Zuma in London and Jean-Georges in Dubai. Highlights here include crispy pides and lamb cutlets along with Turkish mussels stuffed with rice and breadcrumbs – traditional Anatolian cuisine with a global twist.
Lobby level, Grosvenor House; +971 4 399 9123.