Samantha Wood, founder of independent review website www.foodiva.net who has more than 18,000 followers on Instagram, believes a restaurant serving top-class Arabian food should be the holder of Dubai’s first Michelin star – though she is not convinced the city is quite ready.
“As much as I would love to see Michelin-star ratings in Dubai, I don’t think we have enough of a critical mass of restaurants that make the Michelin-standard cut,” she says.
“It is the home-grown restaurants that we need to see more of, especially at the high-end, licensed spectrum, serving modern interpretations of cuisines from the Arab world that will really demonstrate a mature dining scene worthy of a Michelin guide.”
Asked which existing restaurants in the city might make the Michelin-star grade, she goes for Ruya, at Grosvenor House, and The Experience by chef Reif Othman.
The former is helmed by British chef Colin Clague.
“He has reinvented Turkish cuisine with a modern, light twist on traditional dishes in a location that oozes atmosphere and slick service,” says Wood.
She is also fond of the private “apartment-style” service at The Experience, where Singaporean chef Othman whips up a far eastern-inspired spread using European ingredients. “He has taken the traditional chef’s table to another level by creating a private apartment one floor above his restaurant, Play, in the H Hotel, where he personally cooks and serves up to 12 guests,” says Wood.
Fathima Mansoor Ahmed, known as Table for Five Dubai on social media, says Rang Mahal, by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kotchar, should get a star.
“The food is always well presented but not over the top,” says Ahmed, a blogger with more than 29,000 followers on Instagram.
“It always comes down to flavour rather than just a smoke and mirrors show that often leaves you disappointed.”
She recommends mamsam meriyal masala, a signature dish at the restaurant.
“It is lamb cubes in a blend of Andhra spices, with tomato, onion and tamarind,” she says.
“It’s not too overpowering with the spices, and you could still taste the amazing produce.”
Dima Sharif, the author of the cookbook Plated Heirlooms, says: “There are restaurants [in the UAE] that are creating amazing experiences, some even worthy of Michelin guide acknowledgement.
“While the relatively young chef, Francesco Guaracino, is Italian, he established himself here in the UAE, first during his time spent at Bice Mare, followed by his new destination at Roberto’s Abu Dhabi.
“Wherever he works he always serves up a memorable experience. “I do think that he is Michelin standard and knows that when the guide makes it to Dubai he and his restaurant Roberto’s will be starred.”