Dine Somewhere New over the Eid Weekend – Because Why Not?

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Photo: Courtesy of Akira Back Dubai

Let’s not remind you just how miserably hot it will be over the upcoming Eid weekend. Instead, let’s focus on what you can actually do to cope: eat well. Really well. But enough of the home delivery from your favorite spots already, because there are seemingly countless new restaurants in Dubai that are just waiting to be discovered over the five-day break.

The editors at Savoir Flair know that comes across as a daunting task to some, so we’ve already made our way through the best of the best – all in the name of research, of course. Here, we share our verdicts.

Asma

Photo: Courtesy of Asma

Nothing pleases us more when Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine reside peacefully under the same roof – especially when a homely feast is offer. This new dining establishment at The Dubai Mall is named after the mother of three Emirati sisters, and their loving tribute manifests into Middle Eastern favorites “but with a twist”. Now we know what you’re thinking: doesn’t every other restaurant in the city claim that? But Asma delivers. Here, the hummus is drizzled with parsley vinaigrette, sliced almonds adorn the beetroot-infused labneh, halloumi is accented with honey and walnuts, watermelon salad is jazzed up with toasted hazelnuts, and shakshuka is served alongside shoestring fries – catch our drift?

Of course, you can’t have a Middle Eastern restaurant without hearty crowd-pleasers like koshari and ouzi, which Asma does in spades. But promise yourself you’ll leave room for a sweet finish. It’s thanks to our pit stop at this chic new eatery that one of the prettiest desserts in Dubai resides in our Instagram feeds: muhallabia (or ‘Milk Pudding’ as it appears on the menu) topped with edible flowers, chopped pistachios, and Turkish cotton candy.

OFK

Photo: Courtesy of OFK

Hosting a big group for dinner can be a daunting task, especially if picky eaters are on the guest list, and that’s how OFK – short for Open Flame Kitchen, in case you’re curious – landed a spot on this list. After all, restaurants that manage to serve ‘everything’ and do it well are few and far between. The latest culinary hotspot at The Dubai Mall’s Fashion Avenue, it boasts views of both open-flame cooking stations and The Dubai Fountain – depending on what you’re feeling.

We made our way through the many cooking methods that make OFK so popular: the ‘Loomi Tikka’ is arguably the best choice from the North Indian “Tandoor” portion of the menu, while the ‘Citrus Black Miso Cod’ is a no-brainer from the Japanese “Robata” selection. And because it would be a shame to bypass “Parrilla” (a traditional charcoal-fueled Latin American grill), we might just have to insist that you try the ‘Caramelized Onion Cheeseburger’ – OFK does come from the same family as the iconic Slider Station, after all. But despite its reputation for all things cooked and chargrilled, the “Raw Bar” dishes are done particularly well. Can we just take a second to commend the pairing of ‘Crab Avocado Maki’ with sweet potato floss, please?

Taverna Greek Kitchen

greek taverna kitchen greek food
Photo: Courtesy of @TavernaGreek.AE

Its doors have been open for under six months, but Taverna Greek Kitchen at Souk Madinat Jumeirah is already making waves amongst Dubai’s foodies, and it’s not hard to see why. Perfect Location? Check. Picturesque views of those stunning waterways? Check. Dreamy décor? Check. And let’s not forget its open-style kitchen, rustic touches, and Mediterranean hues, all of which make for a truly authentic experience. The kitchen is headed up by Greek chef Theodore Rouvas, who has worked at numerous award-winning restaurants in Europe and designed a menu centered around sharing – you’re encouraged to order a variety of meze, cold plates, and salads to whet your appetite. The only problem this poses? They’re all so good that you’ll want them to yourself.

Start with some freshly baked pita and a spread of traditional Greek dips (the rich and creamy ‘Taramosalata’ and garlic-infused ‘Tzatziki’ are not to be missed) before sampling the ‘Ksidato Octopus’ that is braised in vinegar, herbs, and olive oil. Another must-try is the ‘Flaming Cheese Saganaki’, which – as its name suggests – comes complete with flames and a delicious orange marmalade. It’s here that we dined not only on perfectly chargrilled ‘Gulf Prawns’, but also the heartiest ‘Moussaka’ in the city. Just be sure to save room for the ‘Greek Yoghurt Pavlova’ with berries and yogurt ice cream. It would be rude not to.

Mango Tree Thai Bistro

Photo: Courtesy of @MangoTreeJBR

Tucked away in the Hilton Dubai The Walk at JBR is a small, but delightful, Thai spot called Mango Tree Thai Bistro. In the crush of the city’s ultra-fancy eateries, it’s nice to find a place where you can relax amidst a tropical ambience while shamelessly hoovering up some truly delicious food. Affordable prices and a casual atmosphere lend themselves to feasting, after all. Start with the ‘Watermelon Salad with Dried Shrimp’ (trust us on this one) and the ‘Spicy Seafood Soup’, both of which balance each other well.

The seafood soup is one of the best things on the menu, and packed with delicious morsels of shrimp, crab, scallops, and more and finished with kaffir lime, lemongrass, and holy basil. For the main course, the ‘Jungle Curry Short Ribs’ were melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the ‘Green Curry Prawns’ chased the rich ribs with the perfect amount of heat. Still hungry? The restaurant does a wonderful ‘Whole Roasted Sea Bass’ and an equally good deep-fried version, complete with three savory dipping sauces. You can round off your meal with sweet treat like ‘Thai Street Ice Cream’ or ‘Pandan Souffle’, but our favorite remains the Thai dessert staple: the ‘Sweet Mango with Sticky Rice’.

Masala Library

Photo: Courtesy of @MasalaLibraryDXB

A controversial tweet, a high-profile dismissal, and the arrival of the “Czar of Indian Cuisine” have collectively resulted in this: our new favorite Indian eatery in town. Located in the towering JW Marriott Marquis DubaiMasala Library by Jiggs Kalra serves dishes that are as diverse and complex as the country they represent – all with a hefty side of molecular gastronomy. And while there’s an extensive à la carte menu on offer, it’s the 12-course Chef’s Tasting Menu of greatest hits that comes highly recommended. We opted for the non-vegetarian version, where snacks such as deconstructed samosas, a cookie-like concoction of puffed wild rice topped with white-pea chutney, and a millet-based tribute to India’s farmers start the show.

Between the umami-infused broth and dehydrated mushrooms, the ‘Mushroom Chai’ soup is the course that caught us most by surprise, but in a good way. Come appetizers, the ‘Caviar Malai Prawn’ is a crowd-pleaser, but it’s the ‘Wagyu Pathar Kebab’ that is a work of art – read: thinly sliced Wagyu beef cooked tableside on a hot stone and served with walnut chutney. A raspberry palate cleanser later, pescetarians are set with a choice between ‘Radhuni Toothfish’ and ‘Scallops Moilee’, while the hearty ‘Rajasthani Mutton Curry’ caters to carnivores. There’s a trio of desserts that serves as the grand finale, and we suggest you save the ‘Ashen Kulfi’ – the best of the three – for last. It’s cool, it’s cold, and it owes its gorgeous colors to banana leaf ash.

Rue Royale

Photo: Courtesy of @RueRoyaleDubai

Two Michelin-starred chef Mathieu Viannay of La Mère Brazier fame has brought his Lyonnaise concept to The Pointe at the recently opened Rue Royale, and it’s rapidly racking up rave reviews from guests. This fine-dining establishment – named for the street where La Mère Brazier resides in Lyon, France – is one of Palm Jumeirah’s best-kept secrets. And after two visits to Rue Royale and a tour of its open kitchen, it’s safe to say this is one restaurant in Dubai that deserves to be moved to the front of your must-try list.

Promising young head chef Junior Nadje (who hails from STAY Dubai) is tasked with daily operations, and the dishes that his kitchen is producing are not only sublimely fresh, but also supremely flavorful. Take the unbelievable combination of salmon and a delicious orange cream sauce, which is so delicately prepared as to transcend both sweet and savory – and boasting Instagrammability to boot. It’s not on the menu either, but if you’re lucky, it might be on special that day. Another surprising dish is the ‘King Crabe aux Condiments’ salad that is topped with a celery emulsion, escabeche jelly, grapefruit, and caviar. It’s the perfect summer appetizer, decadent but effervescently light. And not to be forgotten are the superlative talents of the kitchen’s pastry chef, who is churning out some of the best desserts we’ve had in a while. We’re already planning our third trip back.

Alici

Photo: Courtesy of @AliciDubai

What do you get when you combine breathtaking ocean views, sunlit space, beautiful blue detailing, and the freshest seafood imaginable? Alici. Located on Bluewaters island, the new venture from the team behind Il Borro (bet we’ve got your attention now), it’s the next best thing to taking a trip over to the south of Italy – you’ll be whisked straight to the coast, complete with authentic Italian artwork and boats sailing by outside. There are also handmade ceramics and pottery dotted around (all thanks to Alici’s collaborations with famous artists and designers) alongside Gio Ponti floor tiles and bright canvases to bring the cream color scheme to life. If this was a home store, it would seriously clean up.

Speaking of cleaning up, you’ll be licking your plates dry once you try head chef Domenico Santagada’s creations. The menu is adapted according to what the fishermen bring in every day, with a strong focus on fresh, sustainably sourced seafood dishes with a contemporary twist. Melt-in-the-mouth slivers of raw fish are served up from the crudo bar, where unexpected ingredients such as pomegranate and apple perfectly complement the delicate flavors of fish. Choose your catch and have it cooked just to your liking, savor the flavor of organic Italian tomatoes with your burrata, and snack on fried calamari and prawns served with chili jam and citrus mayo. Seeking something a bit heartier? Indulge in a bowl of handmade pasta with butter, parmesan, caviar, and Amalfi lemon zest. Italy, eat your heart out.

Zhen Wei

Zhen Wei dubai
Photo: Courtesy of Zhen Wei

If you still haven’t checked out the new Caesars Bluewaters Dubai, you’re in for a treat. Not only is it home to one of the most pristine private beaches in Dubai and stunning sea views, but it’s also where you’ll find some of the hottest new restaurants in town. Our pick of the lot? Zhen Wei, which manages to be both cozy and chic with its dark wood, earthy tones, and soft mood lighting – perfect for date night or a casual catch-up with friends. It’s here that Chef De Cuisine Yang Tao creates some of the best Pan-Asian and Cantonese dishes outside of Hong Kong. Two words: dim sum.

Zhen Wei is officially a dumpling lover’s dream, so start with an array of handmade dim sum, gyozas, and bao buns to whet your appetite. There’s everything from fried Cantonese-style egg yolk and duck gyozas to vegetable pot stickers, crispy shrimp money bags, and steamed crab dumplings. The only problem? It’s next to impossible not to devour every dim sum on the menu, but believe us when we say you’ll want to save some room for the rest. Mains here include all the classics – Peking duck pancakes, sweet and sour chicken, and Kung Pao prawns – alongside some unusual suspects to keep your tastebuds on their toes – think: ‘Australian Rack of Lamb’ with an edamame-shiitake crust and ‘Grilled Garlic Shrimp’ with black linguine and red curry coconut sauce. We’re declaring Zhen Wei all that, and dim sum.

Puerto 99

Photo: Courtesy of Puerto 99

You know those days when all you want to do is tune out your own thoughts and have a laugh with friends instead? Well, this is the place to do it. Officially the funnest place on Bluewaters Island, courtesy of a mariachi band that gets everyone in a festive mood, Puerto 99 is the Mexican restaurant that Dubai truly needed. Authenticity is the name of the game, but not just as far as cuisine is concerned – everything from the serveware to the décor elements have been imported from Mexico. Heck, even the Hass avocados are flown in, and while we’re on the subject: the guacamole here is is a must-try.

To its credit, Puerto 99 serves a massive (and very diverse) selection of dishes, but we can help get you started. The ‘Tacos de Tuetano’ bring with them a novelty factor, as roasted beef bone marrow is served on the side for tons of extra flavor. And considering the mesquite grill and oven (yes, brought in from Mexico) is a real highlight, you can’t go wrong with the ‘Whole Chile Rubbed Chicken’. But let’s take a moment to focus on the fact that Puerto 99 is best known for its aquatic fare – think: freshly shucked oysters, jumbo shrimp served with garlic confit and guajillo chili, and the light and zesty ‘La Sangrita’ seafood cocktail. By now, you’ve likely indulged plenty, so you might as well keep going with an indulgent dessert, right? Our vote goes to the ‘Pastel de Tres Leches’, in which the tartness of mixed berries offsets the creaminess of, well, everything else.

Akira Back Dubai

Photo: Courtesy of Akira Back Dubai

Yes, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Asian restaurants in the city – but this is no ordinary Asian restaurant. For starters, it helped Dubai join the ranks of Seoul and San Francisco as a city that hosts an outpost by Michelin-star chef Akira Back. At Akira Back Dubai, Japanese dishes with a Korean essence and international influences inspired by his (countless) adventures around the world dominate the show. It’s no wonder that the ambience here screams urban chic, but without actually trying. You’ll be pleased to know that many of Back’s most acclaimed dishes take pride of place on the menu, so expect to see cold starters like the famous ‘Tuna Pizza’ – just try it before you judge it.

Skip the rolls and jump ahead to the signature rolls instead – they’re that good. Both the ‘Perfect Storm’ and ‘Red Dragon’ do justice to shrimp tempura, but it’s the curiously named ‘Pop Rockin’ that’s impossible to forget. Inspired by the simple pleasures of Back’s childhood, it features spicy crab, cucumber, and asparagus alongside – wait for it – Pop Rocks candy. More traditional but equally intriguing seafood continues into the mains, but admittedly, it’s the dedicated vegan menu that makes Akira Back one of our current favorites. The ‘Edamame Risotto’ with eringi mushroom “scallops” comes highly recommended, but we cannot emphasize the following enough: the ‘Crispy Tofu’ with that heavenly, thick, sort of sticky chili glaze is the one you’ll love – regardless of where you fall on the dietary restrictions spectrum.

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