x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

UAE destined for more top dining spots

We get the lowdown on the restaurants the UAE's foodies are hoping to see open their doors in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Despite the plethora of restaurants in the UAE, it seems that there is always room, not to mention appetite, for more. Gastronomically speaking, the next year or so promises to be an altogether exciting one. The UAE's restaurantgoers will be keeping their fingers crossed that among the new openings will be their favourite international names.

Abu Dhabi residents who hunger after celebrity chef-influenced food or the chance to pick at sushi in sophisticated surroundings could be in for a treat. Meanwhile in Dubai, those who adore high-end Indian cooking won't be disappointed.


Whispers on the foodie grapevine suggest that Zuma could well be looking to expand its global reach, with hopes for new regional openings.

What to expect:

Zuma is the restaurant that helped establish DIFC as a dining destination. From the decor to the degustation, this is a sophisticated spot that oozes contemporary cool. The fashionable crowd may gather here to hobnob, but fans of high-end Japanese food come here to feast. Carefully constructed dishes are prepared with a touch of wit, plenty of imagination and, most importantly, some of the highest-quality seafood in the region. The only time you're likely to complain during a meal here is when you see the bill.


Dishes to look forward to:

As you would expect, the black cod is very good indeed, but the Wagyu beef with tahoon mayonnaise and ponzu is sublime, and the crispy squid with chilli and lime is even better.


The imminent opening of The Ivy has given fans of the clutch of restaurants that fall under the guard of Caprice Holdings reason to hope that a version of the Mayfair restaurant Scott's may follow.

What to expect:

Scott's is a seafood restaurant seeped in tradition; the mood is sumptuous, attention to detail is paramount and classic dishes are prepared with finesse. There can surely be no better place to order a whole fish, not least because a deft, formally dressed waiter will fillet it for you table-side. Scott's is an assured restaurant that has stood the test of time and warrants being called a British institution. Whether this translates over in the UAE will remain to be seen, but make no mistake, the pedigree is very good.

Dishes to look forward to:It would be churlish not to sample the delights of the much talked-about oyster bar or perhaps share a plateau de fruits de mer. The restaurant is known for its Dover sole meunière, the lobster thermidor deserves attention and the stargazy pie is legendary.

Atul Kochhar

During a visit to Abu Dhabi earlier this year, the twice Michelin-starred chef revealed that plans to open a restaurant in Dubai were underway.

What to expect:

Along with Vineet Bhatia, Kochhar is credited with modernising and changing perceptions of Indian food around the world. He looks at the traditional dishes of his homeland and refines them, celebrates local ingredients and is adamant that the long-held compulsion among Indian chefs to, as he describes it, "curry everything", is not the answer. Kochhar is famed for his ability to delicately blend complex spices, bring subtle flavours to the fore and present food in an elegant, modern fashion. His signature restaurant Benares is a sleek, contemporary space designed to echo the style of food being served.

Dishes to look forward to:

The menu at Benares features a number of delectable items, among them curry leaf and tarragon-infused lobster rillettes; tandoori black legged chicken supreme; "bhuna" thigh and tossed kale; and star anise panna cotta with poached pear and pear sorbet.

Juan Amador

Gourmet Abu Dhabi 2011 kicked off in celebratory style, with the announcement that the Park Rotana would soon boast a restaurant by the visiting chef Juan Amador. Although the official launch date has yet to be announced, plans are very much in the pipeline.

What to expect:

This is exciting news for a number of reasons, not least because in a region awash with international restaurants, so far Spain seems to have been rather neglected. Well, this need no longer be the case: although he was born in Germany, Amador's parents are Spanish and that is where his food influences come from. The three-Michelin-starred chef is known for producing tapas with a twist, and he has a progressive, cutting-edge style and often cites Ferran Adria of El Bulli as a major inspiration.

Dishes to look forward to:

During a culinary masterclass at Gourmet Abu Dhabi he produced an egg surprise that was every bit as intriguing as is sounds (poached quails' eggs and slivers of Périgord truffle encased in a shiny caramelised sugar shell), before going on to prepare another dish involving foie gras, apple, smoked eel and charcoal. Amador is also known for his interesting take on desserts, with passion fruit candy floss and chocolate truffle lollipops often featuring on the menu.

Vineet Bhatia

In October last year, the charming Mr Bhatia revealed that he would be opening a restaurant in Abu Dhabi. This was reiterated at Taste of Dubai, with talk of tasting plates and a certain Emirati influence to the food.

What to expect:

Bhatia has a number of successful restaurants all over the world. Located in Dubai's Grosvenor House, Indego by Vineet has long been a firm favourite with diners. There is a good reason for this: it may be pricey, but the food is quite simply outstanding. Through the carefully designed menu, Bhatia manages to reference India's rich and varied culinary history, yet presents the food in a sophisticated, entirely contemporary fashion. In doing so, he more than achieves his aim of "showcasing Indian food in a manner that people come to regard as fine dining".

Dishes to look out for:

There aren't any dud dishes on the menu at Indego, but favourites include lamb, morel and corn korma laced with truffle oil; home-smoked fresh tandoori salmon; seafood and raw mango curry, and rose-petal sandwiches.