With a bejewelled finger firmly placed on the pulse of what makes a true-blue fine dining experience-one that’s virtually exploding with oodles of culinary glitz and unapologetic razzmatazz-Dubai puts on a spectacular show. Now, imagine this taken up a few more notches…Yes, the annual Dubai Food Festival’s 2022 edition, which took place from the 2nd to the 15th of May, saw a phalanx of fine dining restaurants scattered across the city come together and celebrate what they do best. All this, as they left no stone unturned to give food connoisseurs a treat of their lifetime. With ample displays of their culinary brilliance and prowess shining through the food and presentation.
Luckily for me, I got a ringside seat to all the action as I gourmandised my way through some of the most interesting degustation dinners and carefully curated meals over the course of a week. It’s safe to say that each experience of mine was reflective of the mind-boggling culinary diversity and innovation I saw being played out at my table. In no particular order, here’s presenting five of the most memorable meals of my recent trip to Dubai-the ultimate ‘Emirate of Excess’!
Here Are 5 Fine Dining Restaurants In Dubai For The Gourmand In You:
1. Tresind Studio
Imagine knowing pretty much nothing about the menu of a 17-course degustation dinner you are about to partake in. Add to this your borderline OCD. Such was the predicament that my anxiety-ridden mind was grappling with as I entered the surprisingly unremarkable and rather austere, darkly furnished interiors of Tresind Studio for my 9 pm dinner reservation (the other sitting is at 6 pm). Having recently relocated from its perch on Dubai’s arterial Sheikh Zayed Road to its new rooftop home at the Nakheel Mall on the man-made Palm Jumeirah island, the focus is on little other than the mostly one bite modern Indian dishes is very evident here. Helmed by Indian-born Chef Himanshu Saini, the 20-covers-only studio’s menu features an interesting, often incongruous array of imaginatively plated, minimalist style Indian dishes. As one is only handed the menu at the end of the meal, it is up to the well-trained wait staff to introduce each dish. These take the form of everything from a duck cafreal ‘taco’ served atop a nasturtium leaf and a morel pulao drizzled with an Assam tea dashi to a shiso khakra. And the 17th, grand finale dessert course is a honeycomb cacao hive served on a moon-like globe accompanied by Frank Sinatra on surround sound, belting out his famous fly me to the moon ballad on cue. Pure edible theatre, this!
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2. Al Nafoorah
I would have expected nothing less from any fine dining restaurant that finds itself housed in the opulent Jumeirah Al Qasr hotel, a virtual landmark of Dubai for decades. But this brand new Lebanese restaurant far exceeded any of my expectations, with its glam-saturated ambience and authentic food bearing that unmistakable Levantine freshness of flavour. Set both indoors and outdoors with an expansive terrace overlooking the hotel’s plush lawns and the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel farther away-along with a dwarf olive tree growing in the centre of the main dining room, Al Nafoorah gets it spot on. My set menu reads like a journey through the culinary wonders of Lebanon. Dishes like kibbeh nayeh, Chef Ali Fouad’s sublime Teta’s salad, beef shariat with cherry sauce and sweet surprises like the cottage cheese dessert of halawat al jeben, elevated my dining experience here to hitherto unknown gastronomic heights.
3. Mimi Kakushi
Often dubbed ‘Dubai’s Best Japanese Restaurant’, stepping into the dimly lit space of Mimi Kakushi, that it shares with the Four Seasons Resort in Jumeirah is akin to a multi-sensorial blast from the past. More specifically, the jazz scene of 1920’s Osaka. An epoch-making era when Japan’s art deco movement was just getting started. This mood is amply reflected in the dining experience here. One that blends time-honoured Japanese cuisine techniques with new thinking, far eastern flavours with western influences. Dishes like oven-baked black cod and Kagoshima wagyu beef along with a three feet-long dessert platter with everything from a green tea ice-cream mochi to a sweet litchi iteration of the savoury chawanmushi custard can be savoured here. And in case your curiosity is piqued by its name, ‘Mimi Kakushi’ is the “covering ears” Western-style, women’s bob cut hairdo introduced in Japan in 1922.
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4. MINA Brasserie
Bringing a decidedly Parisian je ne sais quoi flair to the burgeoning world’s food capital that is Dubai is the elegantly appointed MINA Brasserie. Located at the Four Seasons Hotel in the DIFC enclave of the city, the brasserie has been created by James Beard-winning, Egypt-born and US-Raised Chef Michael Mina. Done up with plenty of vintage-style, mottled mirrors reflecting the natural light streaming in from outside and comfortable tufted couches, the ambience created here is of restrained luxury. The rather concise menu features a variety of typical brasserie-style dishes making it the perfect restaurant for a stylish lunch. From discs of foie gras torchon served with brioche toast points and fig chutney and the signature tuna tartare with pine nuts for appetisers to mains of a lobster pot pie and a peppery medium-rare steak au poivre, my lunch companions and I were in gastronomic heaven. But only a dessert like the sublime ‘The Lemon’ (composed of polenta streusel, lemon cream, lime and basil gel) could have converted this already great meal into an almost religious experience!
5. Roaring Rabbit
Perhaps the quirkiest of all the places on this list, the Roaring Rabbit gastropub at the brand new Taj Exotica Resort and Spa at The Palm islands is an experience to behold. With a decidedly English flare as is evident from its ambience, the pub pays homage to the furry rabbit in myriad forms. Be it in the decor elements-where diners are encouraged to scope out as many rabbit references as they can-or in the F&B offerings that have a rabbit leitmotif running through them. Take, for example, the braised rabbit thigh served with glazed carrots or deserts like the bunny carrot cake. Speaking of which, it would be criminal to leave here without sampling other desserts like the scrumptious sticky toffee pudding and the generously portioned banana split. Trust me, this is one rabbit hole you need to fall into whenever you’re next in Dubai.
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