Dubai Restaurant Week offers foodies a chance to dine in 15 of the emirate’s most notable restaurants for just Dh199 a person, a considerable saving on the usual prices. It runs from Thursday until March 4, and there are two sittings a night: 7.30pm and 9.30pm.
We sampled the menus for the best dishes.
Fagotelli carbonara at Social by Heinz Beck, Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah
Heinz Beck, the genius behind La Pergola, the only restaurant in Rome with three Michelin stars, serves up food you will remember long after the last bite. His fagotelli carbonara – a dish he is rightly famous for – nearly brought me to tears with joy. These thin, delicate pasta parcels envelop a rich mix of egg yolk, Parmesan and pecorino cheese. The pasta bursts in your mouth, bringing forth a gush of creamy, decadent sauce. Savour them one at a time. Do not miss your chance to meet Beck on Thursday – he will be in Social, mingling all night.
Tres leches at Mayta by Jaime Pesaque, DIFC
The menu at this restaurant, from globally renowned Peruvian chef Jaime Pesaque, is packed with flavour. We devoured the signature mariscos with charred octopus, squid and roasted potatoes, served with a moreish aji chimichurri sauce. However, the tres leches dessert stole the show. The simple sponge cake arrives drowning in a creamy pool of heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. It is served with sour ice cream that has a hint of lime zest – just the right amount of acidity to balance the sweetness. Jaime Pesaque will be in Mayta’s kitchen on Saturday.
Chilli-miso chicken Yakiniku at Okku, The H hotel
The generous set menu here will serve up four dishes, two desserts, edamame and a side of steamed rice. My favourite dish was the chilli miso chicken yakiniku. The slightly charred, robata-grilled chicken is glazed with chilli-miso and comes skin on. My advice: keep the skin on and enjoy all the sweet, sticky, guilty flavours.
* Stacie Overton Johnson
Tagliolini with lobster, spring onions, chilli and parsley at Bread Street Kitchen, Atlantis The Palm
Who would have thought out of all the dishes at Bread Street Kitchen, the pasta would be the highlight? What elevates things here is the simplicity. The pasta is fresh, superbly cooked and has a thick texture, perfect for the butter and garlic sauce. The chunks of lobster paired with chilli and parsley give this dish a welcome kick. Hearty and delicious.
Goong Gratiem Prik Thai at Pai Thai, Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf Hotel
One can easily fall into a peaceful reverie at Pai Thai, but it was the Goong Gratiem Prik Thai that shook me up – in the best possible way. There is nothing subtle here – just big, strong, flavours. The garlic and pepper prawn dish comes with a pungent sauce, courtesy of a liberal dose of coriander and green pepper. What saves it from being overwhelming is the size of the prawns. They perfectly absorb the spices and leave you wanting more.
* Saeed Saeed
Forbidden Rice at Sea Fu, Four Seasons Resort at Jumeirah Beach
There’s nothing taboo about Sea Fu’s forbidden rice, one of chef Pierre Barusta’s signatures. Despite the dry description of the dish on the menu, this is far more inventive than the ordinary seafood fried rice I was anticipating. Instead it has tiny, rustic black-rice grains swimming in a rich broth that is somewhere between soup and sauce, enticingly flecked with pieces of baby octopus and edamame. Delicious, if a little salty. On top sit generous slabs of seafood – scallops, prawns, calamari – aggressively but expertly seared, tender and fresh. Extra visual flair comes from jutting sticks of asparagus and bursts of Parmesan-coconut foam.
* Rob Garratt
Tawa Kee Champen at Rang Mahal, JW Marriott Marquis
The set menu at Rang Mahal features flavours from all around India, but the one that stands out is the Tawa Kee Champen – a lamb chop served as part of a kebab platter. The South Australian lamb is marinated with Thalassery pepper and fennel, pan-grilled, and placed atop a bite-sized portion of chana masala (spicy chickpeas). Every bite of the juicy, tender, melt-in-the-mouth lamb chop bursts with flavour. The platter comes with pickles and chutney – but the lamb chop needs no help from those additional flavours.
* Aarti Jhurani
BBQ veal short rib at Marina Social, InterContinental Hotel Dubai Marina
At English chef Jason Atherton’s Dubai restaurant, it was no shock to discover the best dish has flashes of flair directly inspired by his home country. However, the small Yorkshire pudding sitting alongside the BBQ veal short ribs was slightly visually eclipsed by a miniature cow-shaped gravy boat – the resultant appearance of the cattle-shaped vessel seemingly regurgitating its own jus should guarantee that any wavering vegetarians will remember why they ditched the pleasures of cooked meat. For the rest of us, the pull-apart-tender veal, presented on a chopping board with an additional side pot of charred sweetcorn, was a reminder of the finest benefits of our carnivorous life choices. Atherton will meet and greet diners at Marina Social on February 26.
* Adam Workman
Ancho steak at Gaucho
When heading to Gaucho’s, there is usually only one thing people go for – Argentinian beef. The impressive selection lives up to the hype. When ordering off the set menu, the ancho – a 200g rib-eye steak – is undoubtedly the best option. Ordered medium-well, it is cooked to perfection, soft and juicy on the inside. Choose your sauce from peppercorn, Béarnaise, mushroom, blue cheese, or red wine.
* Evelyn Lau
Salmon Teriyaki at Namu
I was a little worried about this dish. I have such fond memories of Namu’s stellar Teppan smoked sea bass with asparagus and spring onion and a ginger-soy sauce from a previous visit, I feared the salmon would fall far short in comparison. It did not. Although I was sharing, I snagged the deliciously crispy skin atop the seared Tasmanian salmon for myself and crunched happily on it. The Amarillo teriyaki sauce on the salmon and the dashi in the daikon purée lent this dish just the right salty notes to offset the daikon’s slight tartness.
* Ann Marie McQueen
Sautéed chicken liver at Al Nafoorah, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
Chicken liver – or kabad alddijaj – is a common offering in Lebanese cuisine, and the team at Al Nafoorah got it just right. The sautéed livers were succulent, the exterior thin without any batter coating, and the inside crumbly and silken. The livers are served with pomegranate sauce, which is sweet without being syrupy – a rich brown liquid that the Arabic bread soaked up to tasty perfection.
* Panna Munyal
Flamed Jumbo Prawns at The Rib Room, Emirates Towers
The star dish of the night was the flamed jumbo prawns. Served with crispy confit potato, salsa picante and rocket, the prawns were perfectly cooked and mildly spiced, making for a satisfying main course.
* Felicity Campbell
Reserve a table by calling the restaurant or visit www.roundmenu.com/dubai/restaurant-week