28 Of The Best Asian Restaurants In The UAE
1. Toko Dubai
MUST-TRY: Japanese mushroom rice hotpot with truffle and onsen egg, Dhs150
Toko Sydney has played host to Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Leonardo Di Caprio, Salma Hayek and Nicole Kidman – ergo, it’s a celeb magnet. Since it opened in Dubai, Will Smith and Cristiano Ronaldo are this branch’s most famous guests to date. One of Toko Dubai’s main selling points when the weather is mild is its tranquil Japanese-style garden setting in the middle of Downtown Dubai. Sit among the calming water features and bonsai trees, and enjoy a spot of zen. Other highlights this season include the sophisticated new à la carte Friday brunch, plus some debut dishes on the main menu, from mushroom hotpot to the quirky chocolate tofu dessert.
INFO: Brunch 12noon-4pm, Dhs365 with soft drinks, Dhs450 with house drinks, Dhs535 including one bottle of bubbly for two) Vida Downtown Dubai hotel, 04 442 8383, www.toko-dubai.com
2. Ba Restaurant & Lounge
MUST-TRY: Steamed lobster and scallop dim sum topped with salmon roe, Dhs125
This is one of Ahlan!’s favourite restaurants in Dubai right now. The dining room screams superiority with spacious tables, a very expensive sound system and tastefully stunning decor gently glowing with gold leaf. Taking inspiration from all over China, Ba (meaning eight, which is a lucky number in China) mixes tastes from Szechuan, Shandong, Jiangsu and Cantonese dishes from Hong Kong and Guangdong. Everyone’s Asian favourite dim sum is also on the menu, served alongside spectacular views of The Palm Jumeirah and the Arabian Gulf. Best of all, Ba’s famous brunch is back; a favourite with Dubai’s A-list, you’ll find the emirate’s glitterati taking advantage of the five-star pool and beach access as part of this fashion-forward Saturday Yum Cha brunch.
INFO: Fairmont The Palm, 04 457 3338, www.dineatba.com; Saturday brunch, 12noon-4pm, Dhs288 with soft drinks, Dhs488 with house drinks, Dhs688 with cabana (includes beachside service, set menu, house drinks and one bottle of bubbly –minimum two people per cabana)
3 Hoi An
MUST-TRY: Crab two ways – spicy blue crab cake and deep-fried soft shell crab with spicy mayonnaise, Dhs73
When it comes to South Asian cuisine, Vietnamese is still underrepresented; however, once you’re exposed to its vibrant flavours, you’ll travel the lengths of Dubai to taste more. Hoi An’s menu is extensive, and for a taste of true Vietnam in all its fresh and fragrant glory, you’d be hard-pressed to better its offerings.
INFO: Shangri-la Hotel, Dubai, 04 405 2703, www.shangri-la.com
MUST-TRY: Its flavoured salts
With a range of themed buffets as well as a great à la carte menu, Nosh has a bustling feel. At its Friday brunch you’ll find an Indian tandoori station, loads of fresh seafood on ice and even a chocolate fountain with streams of both milk and white chocolate.
INFO: Mövenpick Hotel JLT, Dubai, 04 429 8789, www.movenpick-hotels.com
5 The China Club
MUST-TRY: Double-cooked steamed and crispy fried duck, Dhs98
The dishes begin with the freshest of ingredients and you can tell the chef has taken care to consider contrasting textures and how they’ll enhance your meal. China Club’s menu covers the country’s most significant culinary regions, with nods to Peking and Szechuan, and the yum cha lunch is one of Dubai’s most popular.
INFO: Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, 04 205 7333/7444, www.diningdubaicreek.com
MUST-TRY: Grilled miso Chilean sea bass, Dhs185
Taking up floors 49 to 51 of the Radisson Royal Hotel, Icho is the city’s highest Japanese eatery, and needless to say, the view is as good as it gets. With dishes such as the foie gras with sweet soy sauce and deep-fried shrimp with wasabi mayonnaise, the food’s top quality too, but don’t just take our word for it – music legend George Benson is said to be a fan too.
INFO: Radisson Royal Hotel Dubai, 04 308 0550, www.radissonblu.com
7 Zuma Abu Dhabi
MUST-TRY: Spicy beef tenderloin with sesame, red chilli and sweet soy, Dhs165
It was only a matter of time before Zuma set its sights on the capital. The new outlet reflects the three core elements of its izakaya dining style, with a signature robata and open-plan sushi counter located around the main dining room, complementing dishes from the kitchen.
INFO: The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, 02 401 5900, www.zumarestaurant.com
MUST-TRY: Sticky rice with sweet mango, Dhs48
The chef in charge at Benjarong has cooked for the Thai royal family, and her commitment is to serve every dish as if it were made for royalty. The flavours aren’t toned down for Western palates, so diners can look forward to a meal that doesn’t hold back.
INFO: Dusit Thani Dubai, 04 317 4515, www.dusit.com
9 Koi Restaurant & Lounge
MUST-TRY: Koi sundae –vanilla and chocolate ice cream with a brownie, Dhs44
Fusion is the name of the game at Koi, which has formulated a modern Japanese menu with a distinctive Californian twist. Before dessert, try the Koi crispy rice topped with spicy tuna and yellowtail tartare, and look out for sporting celebs (we hear golfer Rory McIlroy is a patron).
INFO: St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, 02 678 3334, www.koirestaurant.ae
MUST-TRY: Maguro avocado namaharumaki salad with tuna, Dhs70
For over 30 years, Chef Chitoshi Takahashi’s been serving superior-quality Japanese fare, and Tomo’s menu is evidence that Japanese food is so much more than sushi; it ranges from refreshing salads to tempura, an incredible Wagyu beef with ponzu and possibly the best ramen the city has to offer.
INFO: Raffles Dubai, Wafi City, 04 357 7888, www.raffles.com
11 Katsuya by Starck
MUST-TRY: Miso-marinated black cod, Dhs159
Master sushi chef Uechi Katsuya’s fresh twists on Japanese classics, combined with iconic French designer and architect Philippe Starck’s sleek and sultry interiors, make Katsuya by Starck the place to be. The food is all beautifully prepared, if unoriginal – you’ll find tried and tested creamy rock shrimp, crispy rice with tuna and miso black cod.
INFO: The Dubai Mall, 04 315 3633
MUST-TRY: Caramel palm sugar and pandan crème brûlée, Dhs45
This Anantara Dubai eatery does more than take you on a culinary journey, it enhances the adventure by seating you in rickshaws inlaid with a table! Adding to the fun, you can be transported through the hotel to the restaurant by tuk-tuk! Try the signature dishes of papaya salad and soft-shell crab.
INFO: Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, 04 567 8888, dubai-palm.anantara.com
MUST-TRY: Lamb robatayaki, Dhs160
Service at Watatsumi is refreshingly unfussy, with wait staff who waft to and fro at just the right moments. While the lamb robatayaki and the soft-shell crab are clear savoury highlights, don’t miss the chocolate crisp cake with ginger yoghurt mousse.
INFO: Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Dubai, 04 399 3373, www.watatsumi.ae
14 Tong Thai
MUST-TRY: Green papaya with dried shrimp, peanut, chilli and long beans, Dhs60
It’s as far away as you’ll get from the frenetic buzz of Bangkok, yet the food is as authentic as you’d expect to find right there in the Thai capital. Vibrant fresh ingredients come alive in every dish, from the fieriness of the bird’s-eye chillies to the zesty lemongrass and subtly sweet coconut milk.
INFO: JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, 04 414 3000, www.jwmarriott.com
MUST-TRY: Red curry with grilled prawns, Dhs153
LAO’s wholesome organic dishes are inspired by its clean living ethos, something that’s reflected in its modern, minimalist interior. Tuck in to its signature dish, the honey-and-ginger-braised Muscovy duck breast, from a menu described as holding some of the best authentic south Asian cuisine around.
INFO: Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, 04 818 2222
MUST-TRY: Chicken yakitori skewers with ginger and garlic dipping sauce, Dhs39
Laid-back and casual, Cargo’s the kind of place you can visit regularly without worrying about the dress code or making a reservation. The menu is inspired by Asian street food, with the grilled tenderloin served with crispy potato, braised leek and a garlic butter ponzu sauce standing out.
INFO: 3rd Floor, Pier 7, Dubai Marina, 04 361 8129, www.cargo-dubai.com
MUST-TRY: Japanese green tea tiramisu,, Dhs45
This popular spot in Downtown Dubai doesn’t disappoint, especially when you spy the teppanyaki table from which chefs will whip up your dish right in front of you. Its bar-style ambience is complemented by tunes spun by DJ Jaye; dance fans might even spot their hero, BassHunter, tucking into some elegantly presented sushi.
INFO: Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, 04 441 9262, www.kanpaime.com
18 Spice Mela
MUST-TRY: Calcutta prawn curry, Dhs125
With unspoilt views of the Abu Dhabi waterfront, this classy Pan-Indian restaurant offers service that is enthusiastically attentive without being obtrusive. The menu reworks Indian classics into creative dishes with a fine-dining spin.
INFO: Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island, 02 813 5550, www.rosewoodhotels.com
MUST-TRY: Textures of corn-custard with crumble, crisp coconut sorbet and sweet milk snow, Dhs60
Yuan has become a favourite among Dubai’s glitterati, and the hard work of executive chef Jeff Tan, formerly of the renowned Hakkasan, Mayfair, London, no doubt has something to do with it. The entirely Chinese staff add to the authenticity, and its menu comprises traditional Cantonese dishes – try the Hong Kong-style stir-fried beef tenderloin with button mushrooms and black pepper sauce.
INFO: Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, 04 426 2626, www.atlantisthepalm.com
20 Blue Jade
MUST-TRY: Pomelo salad, Dhs75
Ahlan! has ventured inside the kitchen at Blue Jade, and we can say that what goes on there is pretty special. Ingredients such as lotus and piper lolot leaves are transformed into vessels for succulent sea bass and inventive duck sausage, in a journey across Asia that stops over in Vietnam with shrimp-filled rice paper rolls before heading to Thailand for pad Thai and then on to Japan, where sashimi abounds.
INFO: The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai Marina, 04 318 6150, www.bluejadedubai.com
MUST-TRY: Mixed dumplings – vegetable, shrimp with squid ink, chicken and prawn shumai, Dhs65
Umai’s Chef Nakagawa has earned a place as one of only two chefs in the UAE licensed to prepare the potentially lethal dish of fugu. While the puffer-fish delicacy will undoubtedly attract diners of an adventurous nature, dishes such as Umai’s metre-long sushi platter demand simple appreciation, rather than nerve.
INFO: The Oberoi Dubai, Business Bay, 04 444 1407, www.oberoihotels.com
MUST-TRY: Yellowtail cheek robatayaki, Dhs90 per piece
The restaurant is popular for serving small plates akin to Japanese tapas and, in fact, that’s just what the word izakaya means. Cookery takes centre stage here, with intimate teppanyaki tables where you can watch its skilled chefs turn stir-frying into a dazzling show.
INFO: JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, 04 414 3000, www.marriott.com
MUST-TRY: Shahi tukda – caramelised brioche with pistachio kulfi and saffron sauce, Dhs24
Peppermill’s menu encompasses the many colonial influences India has had, from Portuguese to British and even Greek. Despite this multicultural approach, the flavours are clean and individually preserved.
INFO: Eastern Mangroves Promenade, 02 441 3582, Al Wahda Mall Extension, 02 622 5586, Abu Dhabi, www.peppermill.me
MUST-TRY: Grilled lobster
Brunch at this legendary Australian outpost is separated into two main sections; the outdoor barbecue and the indoor buffet, which is loaded with seafood.
INFO: Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, 04 702 2328, www.yalumba-dubai.com
25 Zuma Dubai
Must-try: Friday brunch, Dhs345/Dhs495/Dhs600
Jay Z, Justin Bieber and Will Smith are among the celebs to have visited Zuma. One of the best ways to experience it is through brunch. The food, as you’d expect, is far beyond your average brunch and we love it. Starting with a set appetiser of squid, miso soup and edamame beans, diners then select dishes from the deluxe buffet and pick one main course to order.
INFO: Gate Village 6, DIFC, 04 425 5660, www.zumarestaurant.com
MUST-TRY: Friday brunch, Dhs395/Dhs595
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa counts A-listers such as Naomi Campbell, Eva Longoria and Bradley Cooper among his fans, and he’s introduced another star to his portfolio: the Dubai brunch. Don’t miss the ‘bagels and lox’ with crispy rice, the battered prawns in spicy mayo. INFO: Atlantis The Palm, 04 426 2626, www.noburestaurants.com/dubai
27 Sake No Hana
MUST-TRY: Raspberry rose with lychee-ripple ice cream, Dhs45
With dim lighting, sharing platters and more groups than couples in attendance, this restaurant screams cool. Sports stars such as Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer seem to like it too.
INFO: Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, 04 432 7808, www.sakenohana.ae
28 La Porte des Indes
MUST-TRY: Kari de mouton – home-style goat meat curry with coconut milk, Dhs150
This exotic eatery serves Indian cuisine from the French-influenced regions of the country, namely Pondicherry and Karaikal. The signature dish of stir-fried guinea fowl with dry red chillies, roasted spices, shallots and curry leaves is testament to this integrated approach.
INFO: The Address Dubai Mall, 04 438 8610, www.laportedesindes.ae
Naomi Campbell and Justin Bieber are among the many celebs to dine at Nobu and Zuma Dubai, our top picks for star-spotting!