Top 10 Restaurants of the Decade
1 SHAKE SHACK
While I’m a big advocate of homegrown eateries, if there’s one US transplant that has to go on the list, it’s this burger joint. Fresh patties, cooked to order and settled onto a squishy potato bun ready to soak up all the juices – it is burger bliss. A side of crinkle-cut fries with cheese sauce is a must!
"For authentic pizza, great vino and gorgeous views of the Gulf, Bussola is the trifecta. A wood-oven churning out thin crust bases adorned with a selection of artisan toppings, it’s up there with the best you’ll find this far from Napoli.
There are scallops and then there are ‘O-style hotate.’ This magical dish features seared Hokkaido scallops with a fig and truffle-wafu goma. The heady aroma of the truffle is what hits you first, take a bite and the firm exterior gives way to almost translucent flesh while a perfect balance of sweet-savoury sauce brings everything together.
4 JAPENGO CAFÉ
My enduring love affair with Asian soups began at Japengo Café (a stalwart on the UAE’s food scene) in Dubai Marine Resort. It was love at first slurp with their beef ramen and in the 10 years since, we’ve seen menu revamps and restaurant make-overs, but the ramen, gratefully, remains.
Back in 2003, before the Palm and the Marina existed, the former Metropolitan Hotel was where all the action happened. My first foodie memory of Dubai was having Nutella and strawberry pancakes delivered to my door from Coco’s along Sheikh Zayed Road. Still warm with oozing chocolate, it was a fab introduction to the convenience of food delivery in Dubai.
Even as a newbie to Dubai, you’ll hear rumours of Ravi’s and their unbelievable butter chicken. It’s a legend among Satwa restaurants and an absolute institution. It’s not the most authentic Indian dish you’ll ever eat, but when you dip a roti or naan into that buttery, subtly spiced goodness the only thing you’ll think about is more.
7 AUTOMATIC RESTAURANT AND GRILL
A real veteran among UAE restaurants, the chain has been serving up consistently satisfying Lebanese cuisine in locations from Ibn Battuta all the way to Rashidiya. With juicy smoky grills, creamy hummus and soft fresh bread, this is the ideal introduction to regional food and it doesn’t disappoint years down the line.
8 55 & 5th THE GRILL
This has to be my favourite new opening of 2013, it’s a fine dining experience where each plate is truly a work of art. With some surprising molecular gastronomy techniques thrown in and the finest ingredients sourced from around the world, this is totally worth the splurge.
9 1762 GOURMET DELI
This spot has made team Ahlan! consider relocating to DIFC. It serves salads and sandwiches like no other spot we’ve come across. Inventive creations like the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding wrap and classics like prawn salad. With a dreamy millionaire’s shortbread that’s simply to-die-for, you just can’t go wrong at 1762.
10 BU QTAIR
It’s a seafood-serving portacabin set on a dusty lot populated with plastic tables and chairs adjacent to the beach. So far removed from neighbouring Burj Al Arab, it’s a culinary illustration of Dubai’s incredibly multicultural and wildly diverse environment. Choose your cooked-to-order fish, order a basket of spicy prawns, a side of curry sauce and a load of parathas and you’ll have a meal better than you’d find in Kerala.