3 Must-Hit Restaurants In Dubai
1. Yuan at the Atlantis
The room is mysterious, dark and deep. The aromas are beguiling and the tinkle of glasses, a shade tantalising. Yuan, at the Atlantis is Dubai’s unrivalled address for romantic interludes and piquant flavours that you can commit to memory. Begin with the dim sums. The Chilean Sea Bass dumplings jostle for attention with crispy shrimp balls imbued with wasabi mayonnaise. A baked barbecued chicken puff gently nudges a mushroom spring roll away, as you wonder which one deserves a fork-spear first.
Raise a toast with the house wine or a creatively stirred cocktail to mouthfuls of golden fried soft shell crab accompanied by a ham salad drizzled with coconut lemon sauce and relax against soft cushions while you take in the city’s glitzy folk and their low-pitched chatter. As our shy server replenishes our glasses, she reveals, to our curious prodding, her story of how she flew the family nest in a small province of China to make a living in the city of stars and lights. And how her apprehensive mother now pats her head with proud indulgence.
Grilled lamb chops glazed with gui hang sauce and a wok-fried rib eye steak perfectly complement bowls of Beijing-style noodles and egg fried rice which leaves us little place for dessert although the selection is striking. 5 spice chocolate fondant, mango custard, Yuan’s signature cheesecake and more, easily toss to dust all sugar-abstinence diets for the week!
2. Roseleaf Café
I know someone who has lived in Dubai for 30 years but had never heard of this hidden gem till we stepped in recently for a leisurely lunch. Ensconced in the middle of a plant nursery overflowing with lush greens the charming glass-fronted café is hugely popular with the artsy and the angst-ridden. You can study and sip a range of coffees through intense conversations or light-hearted chatter and this is the real stuff, freshly brewed et al, tasting as divine as the desserts. The carrot cake and homemade marshmallows win hands down.
The dishes are light, bursting with homely flavours so you tend to order in courses even if that means rising from the table several times to place the order directly at the counter. The wrap, followed by the roll, followed by the salad, then the panini and the quiche…you get the drift. Managed by Rose (but naturally) the menu also has on offer the decade’s current obsessions: low fat, gluten free, low carb, high protein, et cetera. All washed down with a healthy green smoothie or Dubai’s favourite local drink, the kadak chai masala.
Sheikh Zayed Road probably flaunts many treasures to pick from along its serpentine stretch. This one at Garden Centre is one of them.
3. XVA Café
In the heart of the Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood, tucked away in one of the many sunlit lanes is this tree-shaded outdoor eatery. Occupying a courtyard of the former home of the Seddiqi family the quaint maze-like space also houses a much feted gallery highlighting the art of the Middle East, 13 individual guest rooms that showcase the architectural motifs of the region, three original wind towers and a cat called Marmar. Order a refreshing mint lemonade and Mediterranean fritters as you people-watch and delve into the restaurant manager’s repertoire of legendary anecdotes of the 100-year-old property. The menu, that is primarily vegetarian, although they throw in a fish dish occasionally, is sought for its roasted carrot hummus, cinnamon oatmeal pancakes and the authentic lemon pound cake. The unique bohemian-cum-stylish venue has played host to corporate and high fashion events including those of Chanel, Hermes and Fendi. So even if international labels do not retail here, do stop at the pricey Design Store before leaving, for bespoke products from Iran and Jordan.