My first visit to Dubai in 2016, while fantastic, left me thinking that perhaps the six-hour flight was a little excessive for a spot of sunshine (what with mainland Europe on our doorstep). But then, excess is sort of the whole point of Dubai.
I’d always had my eye on the food scene; a country that affluent can afford to bring over big name chefs to open their new restaurants in the emirate, as well as franchising already popular eateries.
But while we all know that Sushi Samba, Zuma and LPM have prime real estate in Dubai (and for good reason), I was keen to explore restaurants that my hometown of London didn’t already offer. Onto another six-hour flight I hopped with a plan to dine at spots I’d missed the first time around, but that have been quietly making their mark on the Dubai food scene.
From a walking tour of some seriously tasty snacks in the famous souk to the restaurant that secured first place in the 50 Best Restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa list this year, I discovered a culinary world just off the beaten track of all the glitz and glamour.
I’m not saying shy away from sushi with a panoramic view of the Palm – when in Rome, after all – but should you be keen to delve a little deeper into Dubai’s gastronomy scene, here are several spots that should definitely be on your foodie hit list.
Located in Dubai’s DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre), BOCA was just awarded a green star in this year’s Michelin ceremony for its work towards sustainable dining. Serving dishes such as kingfish ceviche with sweet potato hummus, tomato and strawberry gazpacho and chicken with roasted spiced potatoes and padron peppers, it’s clear that taste, the environment and presentation are all key elements of a meal at this contemporary restaurant.
Running on 100 per cent renewable energy, BOCA aims to have as little waste as possible and put locally sourced ingredients to good use – one dish comprises of aged beetroot and khansoor (a desert plant that is, in this case, grown onsite). A home-grown concept, this restaurant consistently shows how much the UAE has to offer, noting the Hajar mountains in the north as biologically rich habitats and acknowledging the organic and traditional farms that are situated in the central region. As well as every mouthful being a delight and the…