Dubai just wants you to have a good time. Whether you want to shop till you drop in air-conditioned malls or soak in the history of Bur Dubai or travel through space and time in a museum, the possibilities are endless. My plan for Dubai was to feast my way through it and have as many indulgent dining experiences as possible. To sum it up: treat yo’self!
Dubai was the perfect city to do that, especially in May, as the Dubai Food Festival 2022 took centrestage to showcase the best homegrown cuisine created by local chefs, as well as fine dining restaurants with carefully-curated menus offered at special prices.
Wine And Dine
If you don’t plan your entire vacation around food, we cannot be travel buddies, especially not for Dubai. Because so much of the fun of being there is going to fancy restaurants where you get lost in their elaborate architecture and decadent vibe before you even look at the menu. Chefs from across the world have chosen to open restaurants here, which means that, if you’re in the mood to sample a plethora of cuisines, you’re in luck!
Starry Night at MINA Brasserie
Take Al Nafoorah at Jumeirah Al Qasar, for instance, where the mezze spread (main image) alone will have you waxing eloquent like a judge on a cooking show. If authentic Lebanese is what you’re looking for, this is the place to go. Alternatively, take some time out during the evening and stop by for drinks at Paros, located on the 46th floor of Taj Jumeirah Lakes Towers with a view that is the definition of ’Gram goals. Every Monday from now until the end of time, I will think about this pool and this view of Taj JLT to power through.
Apple pie at Roaring Rabbit (Taj Exotica)
If you’re in the mood for some French food, or you just want to have a great time, MINA Brasserie at the Four Seasons Hotel DIFC is the place to be. With a menu curated by award-winning celebrity chef Michael Mina and his team, this is the perfect lunch spot at which to eat to your heart’s content. Pay special attention to the Art Menu, featuring 13 cocktails and mocktails that are inspired by famous works of art. I spent several minutes just admiring my drink, called Starry Night, which had a shocking resemblance to the Vincent Van Gogh masterpiece.
Craving Japanese? Located in the Four Seasons Resort, Mimi Kakushi adds its own touch to authentic Japanese classics, but be warned that this is one place where you must save room for dessert. And, instead of just picking one, just go for the dessert platter. Treat yo’self! You can thank me later.
Roomali roti & turnip tart at Trèsind Studio
Can’t Take India Out Of Indians
The thing about us is that after a while we will start pining for Indian food. That is absolutely valid and something Dubai has accounted for! If you’re missing the comfort of dal, naan and biryani, Varq, located at Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, will hit the spot. I wanted to bathe in the Vaqrui Dal, and I’m not ashamed to say it. However, if you want Indian cuisine with a fine dining twist unlike any other, head to Trèsind Studio in Nakheel Mall for a whopping 17-course menu designed by Chef Himanshu Saini that doesn’t compromise on flavour or presentation. Each dish looks stunning (above) and, while you don’t get to see the menu until after you’re done with your meal, you’re explained what’s on your plate with such gentleness that it somehow makes you appreciate the flavours a lot more.
Dinner at Sonara Camp
Glamping In The Desert
Of course you’re not going to skip dune bashing and camel riding while you’re in Dubai, but don’t miss out on luxury dining in the desert either. Taking the concept of glamping a bit too seriously, Sonara Camp is the picnic spot of your dreams. Awash with fairy lights, this eco camp is a 40-minute drive from Jumeirah Beach and has arguably the best sunset view you’ve ever seen. If, unlike me, you can manage to control your hair, the pictures will be gorgeous and you will work up an appetite from all that walking in the sand.
This is just as well, because Sonara sets up a charming dining experience with a three-course menu that is occasionally overshadowed by the gravity-defying stunts the performers are pulling right in front of your eyes. There’s something about having chocolate mousse as the desert stretches endlessly in front of you and a cheerful man balances himself on a stack of glasses that really makes you feel like you’re on vacation.
Museum of the Future
Beyond The Food
The only way you can truly enjoy all this food is if you work up an appetite beforehand, and thankfully Dubai has so many incredible experiences to offer that there will never be a dearth of things to do. Whether that is taking a morning yoga class at The Lost Chambers Aquarium as smiling manta rays judge you for your lack of flexibility, or watching iconic artworks come to life at Infinity des Lumières, a digital art gallery that will take your breath away. Shop and support local artists and merchants at Ripe Market or learn the art of sushi making from Chef Tatsu at Kaffe Bloom in The Onyx Tower. The latter will make you feel accomplished in ways you cannot imagine, especially if you’re not known for your culinary skills. Take a guided Spice Souk Tour at Al Seef, but don’t forget to sharpen your bargaining skills before you lose your heart to the many trinkets you spot there. And, of course, find the time to go to the newly-launched Museum of the Future, an esoteric glimpse into how society could evolve in the coming decades using science and technology, which would be unhinged if it weren’t done so sincerely and wasn’t so freaking cool!
Regardless of whether you plan your Dubai trip around food (correct!) or not (weird!), the city is ready to win you over, and, after more than two years of no travel, that’s all that really matters.
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