From Pancit to Chicken Adobo to kwek-kwek, these are the Dubai restaurants you need to check out for tasty Filipino dishes…
From dining with no cutlery or picking your own seafood and having it cooked just the way you like it, to tucking into ‘chicken helmet’, we’ve rounded up a list of restaurants in Dubai that serve up the tastiest and most unique Filipino dishes.
1. Asiana Hotel
Located in Deira a few minutes away from Al Ghurair Centre, this hotel is home to two restaurants serving up some tasty Filipino grub.
The first is Manila Grill, located on the ground floor of the hotel and specifically focused on Filipino cuisine. The stylish and cozy restaurant has private VIP rooms, a full bar set up, soothing live music and a wood charcoal grill. The restaurant serves up special combos and group packages that include an array of grills from beef, chicken and more. You will notice the word ‘Boodle fight’ while you flick through the menu – this means that the food is meant to be shared and will be served to you spread on banana leaves on the table. Be sure to call and make a reservation though.
Manila Grill, Asiana Hotel, Salahuddin Road, Deira, Dubai, 6pm to midnight Sunday to Thursday, noon to 3pm, 6pm to 11.30pm Friday and Saturday. Tel: (04) 608 2140, asianahoteldubai.com/manila-grill
Lamesa is located on the 5th floor of the Asiana Hotel also serves up Filipino cuisine. It offers a vast buffet of dishes prepared by Filipino, Korean, Chinese, Japanese & Thai chefs. Their March promotions include a Friday and Saturday brunch that runs from 11am to 3pm. There’s also a weekday lunch that runs from noon to 3pm anddinner from 6pm to 10.30pm.
Lamesa, Asiana Hotel, Salahuddin Road, Deira, Dubai, noon to 3pm, 6pm to 10pm daily, 11am to 3pm Friday and Saturday brunch. Tel: (04) 608 2160, asianahoteldubai.com/lamesa
2. Carinderia ni Tandang Sora
Carinderia ni Tandang Sora is a Filipino-themed restaurant and bakery that pays homage to Tadang Sora, who is a Filipina revolutionary. The chef’s specials here include the Camaron Rebusado, which is a deep friend shrimp dish, and Daing na Bangus, a Filipino staple dish where a milkfish is split open, marinated overnight in a vinegar solution, and then pan-fried until crisp and golden. Also on the menu is Kare-Kareng Baka, a Filipino stew, and Beef Bulalo – asoup dish consisting of beef shanks and bone marrow. This restaurant also offers Boodle Fight for 5 people for Dhs200 or Dhs250.
Carinderia ni Tandang Sora, Centurion Star Tower Port Saeed, Opposite Deira City Center, Dubai, noon to midnight daily. Tel: (04) 297 1835, carinderianitandangsora.com
3. Little Manila
In Filipino cuisine, no part of an animal goes to waste. So, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, head to Little Manila’s and try their ‘chicken helmet’ – a grilled chicken head that is barbecued and eaten with a choice of sauce or vinegar. For a snack, try kwek-kwek – deep-fried quail eggs in a bright orange hue, or fish balls. The restaurant also serves up an all-day breakfast menu for just Dhs12 that includes soup and coffee and your choice from 10 different meals like Beef Pares and Tapsilog. They also have a business lunch deal for Dhs16 from noon to 4pm, and you can pick from six menu items like Pancit Canton and Liver Steak.
Little Manila, several locations in Dubai. Tel: (800) 626 452, littlemanila.com
Love fresh seafood? Then you need to head to Plauto, where a unique dining experience awaits. Located at the Waterfront Market in Deira, the restaurant invites diners to purchase their own seafood from the market, which they will then cook for you at the restaurant. Grab your favorite fish from the Waterfront Fish Market and then bring it to the cleaning area to be cleaned. Once cleaned, the fish is then weighed, and then it’s up to you to decide how you want your meal cooked – whether you like it fried, grilled, or even with soup, the choice is yours. The minimum waiting time is 30 minutes and costs Dhs25 per kg. You can add Dhs10 for unlimited rice and bottomless soft drinks.
Paluto, Waterfront Market Al Khaleej Street Corniche Deira, Dubai. Tel: (054) 581 2130, facebook.com/palutouae/
5. Dampa Seafood Grill
Ever tried to be dainty and dig into a crab only to give up minutes later and go at it with your hands? Well, the team at Dampa have spared you the time waste and gotten rid of the cutlery for you. Paper sheets are spread out on the table and your seafood order is dumped out onto it with no cutlery. The Dump-A-Seafeast meal includes shrimp, mussel, clams, corn and unlimited rice for Dhs139 for 3 people and you have a choice of having your meal steamed, grilled or boiled. The menu also includes some classic Filipino dishes such as Seafood Laksa soup.
Dampa Seafood Grill, Centurion Star Hotel, Deira, Dubai, 2pm to midnight Sunday to Thursday, 10am to midnight Friday and Saturday. Tel (04) 2990884, facebook.com/dampaseafoodgrilldubai/
6. Hot Palayok
The Karama located Hot Palayok serves up some top Pan-Asian and Filipino dishes. The food is prepared on the spot, right in front of your eyes, or opt for the huge buffet for only Dhs49 and indulge in a street food style section where you can choose any food item for them to grill. You will also be spoilt for choices for mains, sushi and sweets. The restaurant also has a party hall that’s equipped with a Karaoke system so you and your friends can belt out your favourite musics while enjoying a great meal.
Hot Palayok, Wasl Hub, corner of 39th and 6C Street, Al Karama, Dubai, 11am to midnight daily. Tel: (04) 221 9797, hotpalayok.com
7. Dagat Dagatan
Filipinos, and lovers of the cuisine, will experience authentic Philippine seafood cuisine prepared by well-trained Filipino chefs if they dine at Dagat Dagatan. The restaurant prides itself on being a ‘home away from home’ for Dubai’s Filipino residents. If you’re new to the cuisine and feeling adventurous, the restaurant serves up the traditional Filipino Isaw (that’s chicken intestine). For dessert, try the Biko, which is a sticky rice cake then head to the karaoke room to belt out a song or two. Oh, and if it’s your birthday, you dine here for free (call to reserve with them though so they can also keep a cake ready for you too!)
Dagat Dagatan, Flora Grand Hotel, Rigga Street, Dubai, noon to 10.30pm daily. Tel: (04) 230 9870, dagatdagatan.com
Many may say that Jollibee is like the KFC in the Filipino world. The restaurant is known for it’s crispy chicken that comes in a variety of original and spicy forms, and has people lining up outside it’s doors for a table. Apart from the chicken, they also serve up a spaghetti topped off with sweet-style sauce and ground beef, diced ham and hotdog slices. Chocolate lovers must try their chocolate sundae.
Jolibee, various locations in Dubai, Tel: (600) 587 000, jollibeeuae.com
9. Max’s Restaurant
Another chain restaurant that began its operations in the Philippines, and known for its delicious, tender, juicy and crispy fried chicken is Max’s restaurant. The restaurant is now known as ‘The House That Fried Chicken Built.” In its 72nd year of operation, it’s run by the second and third generation of the family that started it. While Max’s fried chicken is still available, you will also find other Filipino favourites available on the menu. Try the Max’s Tapa, which are slices of marinated beef served with rice and a sunny side up egg, and Bulalo, which is a clear soup with cabbage, potato and green beans.
Max restaurant, two locations in Dubai, Spinney’s building, World Trade Centre Road, Karama and Al Ghurair Centre, Rigga Deira, Tel: (04) 351 1269 (Karama) Tel: (04) 289 1342 (Al Ghurair) maxsrestaurantme.com
Images: provided and social