After a much-anticipated launch, the international hub that is Dubai now features in the esteemed Michelin Guide. And of course, this has brought some hot competition among the city’s finest eateries as they clamour for the coveted stars. 44 restaurants have recently been named by Michelin inspectors, with 14 awarded the Bib Gourmand restaurants. Nine restaurants received one Michelin Star and two have been given two stars. The guide went live on the 21st of June and we have a run-down of the Michelin-starred restaurants we think you should add to your Middle Eastern dining bucket list.
Il Ristorante Niko Romito
Located in the Bvlgari hotel, this restaurant joined sister venues in Beijing, Shanghai and Milan. An Italian flair echoes its flagship property and extends beyond the design (it features a dramatic black ceiling and panoramic ocean views), into the dishes. Giacomo Amicucci is the resident chef, his past experience in the three Michelin Star restaurant Reale proving very useful in ensuring Il Ristorante Niko Romito received a two-star plaudit. Bread, a key tenant of the Abruzzan dinner table, always plays a key role here, while homemade pasta, fresh fish and fine meats make up the delectable Degustazione menu.
Stay by Yannick Alleno
This is the other recipient of Dubai’s two Michelin stars. The chief food genre at play here is French, but there are many other flavours incorporated from across the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Asia. Stay is found at the One & Only The Palm Hotel and while undoubtedly swish and conducive to a romantic date, is less formal than some of the others on our list. Order a spit-roasted John Dory for two, the blue lobster, langoustines and caviar, or the milk-fed lamb. Then complete your meal with an item from the Pastry Library (the millefeuille is divine).
No stranger to a Michelin star, this high-end chain was established in 2001. It now has 10 Cantonese restaurants worldwide, including this one in Dubai which has brought the third Hakkasan star. Executive Chef Andy Toh is at the helm, his traditional techniques creating contemporary results that celebrate dishes’ ingredients. The kitchen pays homage to many ancient recipes, paired with an artistic range of patisserie and a carefully crafted cocktail menu. This is set to a backdrop of opulent design by Christian Liaigre, using dark wood screens, powder blue upholstery and subtle lighting.
For a unique visual experience to accompany your gastronomy, book a table at Ossiano. This is the famous underwater restaurant at the aptly named Atlantis, The Palm hotel. It’s not actually underwater, but it certainly feels so, as you descend the glamorous lit staircase into a room, in which an entire wall takes the form of a glass aquarium filled with large fish. The rest of the venue displays typical Dubai grandeur, with glittering chandeliers, a glowing bar and a jazz pianist providing further ambience. Diners are served with courses as theatrical as the surroundings and ambiguously listed menus that offer a sense of surprise and adventure.
Putting the Bvlgari hotel firmly on the Michelin map in Dubai, Hoseki marks another star in the property. An ultra-exclusive venue with just nine seats, its title translates as “gemstone” in Japanese. And it is a real minimalist gem, with fantastic views from its fourth-floor location. Serving lunch and dinner, no two meals at Hoseki are the same, because all are catered to the tastes of those present at this very special table. Enjoying the Omakase experience, diners savour the items served and interact with the chef, Masahiro Sugiyama. Naturally fresh fish and sushi are at the fore, with many ingredients coming straight from Japan.
Tasca by Jose Avillex
Bringing authentic Portuguese flavours to the heart of the Middle East, Tasca is the work of chef José Avillez. Try traditional dishes with a contemporary twist, such as fruits of the sea; giant red shrimp, codfish gomes de sá and blue lobster, or the chef’s Asian-influenced signature dish – avocado tempura. On the 6th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira hotel, the restaurant has a prime location overlooking beaches. Choose a table on the terrace overlooking an infinity pool, or sit in the dining room where you can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen.
The clue to this restaurant’s USP is in its name. Most of the dishes here are cooked over an open fire – even some of the puddings receive the flame treatment. 11 Woodfire is the work of Akmal Anuar, in collaboration with Atelier House Hospitality and sits close to the Mercato Mall, with a stunning whitewashed outdoor terrace. Anuar is originally from Singapore but has seen great success in the UAE already; his culinary ethos displays a strong commitment to sustainability, with a primal approach to cooking, that’s packed with natural flavours. Do sample the Australian T-Bone steak, king crab and wagyu.
Serving Italian food right beside the sea, this restaurant rocks a retro beachy vibe that’s reminiscent of the sun holidays of yesteryear. A huge wall mural depicts ladies wearing swim hats and bathing suits, the lighting is designed to look like halved vintage beach balls and oversized, colourful bold patterns create a funky riviera feel. But let’s not forget the food when entranced by this playful setting; executive chef Massimo Bottura (already the owner of a triple Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy) has crafted a menu reminiscent of his childhood, adding to the sense of immersion in this charming midcentury theme.
An annexe to the fine dining Indian restaurant Trèsind, the Studio is more exclusive and adventurous, for those wishing to experience this internationally-renowned cuisine, on a more intimate level. It opened its doors in 2018 and only offers theatrical tasting menus, under the direction of chef Himanshu Saini. Expect drama along with the 16 courses, and an elegantly choreographed, truly immersive journey that’s full of surprises (be prepared to move around the restaurant). While the menu is set, the experience is bespoke, with great attention to detail ad a fantastic team ensuring your visit is unforgettable.
Found on the 27th floor of the landmark ship-shaped Burj Al Arab Hotel (said to be the world’s only 7-star hotel), this restaurant boasts some awesome vistas. Indeed, its name translates as ‘the highest’ or ‘the ultimate’ reflecting its lofty status on the horizon and culinary credentials. The food here is refined, modern and French, the interior is ocean-inspired with a scales-like ceiling and colour palette of almost entirely blue and green. And the menus see a large amount of seafood, with lavish treats like oysters, beluga caviar and hand-dived scallops, which can all be washed down with a glass of champagne.
We’ve certainly established that the city’s top hotels are home to many of its best restaurants. And the Armani property continues the trend, with its downtown Ristorante. Overlooking the Dubai Fountain, its terrace is a popular spot for those who enjoy people-watching over a meal. Smart and elegant, the Ristorante only opens in the evening, with a focus on very personalised service. Diners can choose from a tasting menu, or opt for a la carte dishes. The cooking style is modern and Italian, with lots of colour and high-quality ingredients. While sophisticated, this venue is ideal for those who prefer a simpler approach to food.