Team What’s On spills the beans (and officially retires the skinny jeans) on the most glorious grub we’ve consumed in the capital in 2015.

Here are the 20 best dishes Abu Dhabi offered up this year…

01. Singhara Palak Chilgoza, Avasa

best dishes in Abu Dhabi

This Indian serves a dish that will surprise many a foodie. First off, it looks like a lasagna (with a bed of rice as the base). Secondly it is made of water chestnuts and garlic spinach, with a layer of tomato cream holding it all together. It’s a great example of the creativity on display at this outlet.

Avasa, The Collection, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, daily sunset to midnight, Dhs69. Tel: (02) 67842221. Taxi: The Collection Saadiyat Island. 

02. Mantoo dumplings, Nolu’s Downtown

best dishes Abu Dhabi

The second branch of this Afghan-influenced café, serves quality dishes such as the yoghurt and spice-infused rich mantoo dumplings. Think steamed minced beef, onions, coriander, split peas, garlic yoghurt and a rich tomato sauce, cooked together for a taste explosion you won’t find anywhere else the capital.

The Galleria, Abu Dhabi Global Market Square, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 8am to 11pm, Fri and Sat 9am to 11pm, Dhs70. Tel: (02) 6441516. Taxi: Galleria, Maryah Island. 

03. Chilli squid, Zuma

#zumaabudhabi. . . . .‏رب إني ظلمت نفسي فاغفرلى

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If Japanese restaurant Zuma (our Restaurant Of The Year at the 2015 What’s On Awards) delivered, we’d order a bucket- load of its crispy fried squid (cooked lightly with green chilies and lime for a little kick) and settle in for a mammoth movie marathon. Scarily moreish and addictive.

The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur noon to 3pm, 7pm to 1am, Fri and Sat noon until 3pm, 7pm to 2am, Dhs64. Tel: (02) 4015900. Taxi: The Galleria.

04. Gourmet burger, Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse & Grill

marco-Pierre-burger Burger fans will be hard pressed to find a better (or more posh) patty on offer. The grilled wagyu beef is topped with black truffle, mushrooms, beef bacon and Gruyere cheese.

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Khor Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi, daily 6pm to midnight, Dhs165. Tel: (02) 6543238. Taxi: Fairmont Bab Al Bahr.

05. Tiramisu, Circo

best dishes in Abu Dhabi Circo’s sphere-shaped treat tastes glorious – and breaking open the beautifully presented chocolate ball to tuck into the rich combination of flavours inside is incredibly satisfying.

InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi, daily 12.30pm to midnight, Dhs45. Tel: (02) 6666888. Taxi: InterContinental Abu Dhabi. 

06. Miso black cod, Asia de Cuba

best dishes in Abu Dhabi

Crowned Newcomer Of The Year at the 2015 What’s On Awards, its Rocoto miso glazed black cod is jaw-droppingly good, with fluffy fish married to an avocado poblano purée.

Nation Riviera, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur noon to 2.30pm, Dhs145. Tel: (02) 6993333. Taxi: Opposite St Regis, Corniche. 

07. Loch Fyne oysters, Stratos

stratos Fyne by name, fine by nature, the best way to have this shellfish from the west coast of Scotland is with Stratos’ ginger shitake dressing. Served warm, the meat of the seafood works in perfect harmony with the salty flavours of soy and mushroom.

Le Royal Méridien, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur noon until 4pm, 7pm to 11pm, Fri and Sat noon until 4pm, 7pm to midnight, Dhs25 per oyster. Tel: (02) 6742020 Taxi: Le Royal Méridien. 

08. Cinnamon-spiced carrot cake, Circle Café

circle cafe abu dhabi best dishes in abu dhabi

This rich and deeply indulgent, cinnamon-spiced cake comes with so much sticky icing that it almost feels like a sauce.

Circle Café, Mangrove Village, Abu Dhabi, daily 7.30am to 10pm, Dhs22. Tel: (02) 6660828. Taxi: Mangrove Village. 

09. Cuttlefish in black bean sauce, Dai Pai Dong

best dishes in abu dhabi

Stir-fried with peppers and onions and whole cloves of garlic, the flesh of this member of the squid family is satisfyingly chewy and the sauce is subtle, letting every flavour in the bowl come alive. Rumour has it they’re taking it off the menu. Say it ain’t so!

Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Global Market Square, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Wed noon until 11pm, Thur and Fri noon to midnight. Tel: (02) 8135552. Taxi: Rosewood, Al Maryah Island. 

10. Grilled chicken breast, Jim’s Kitchen Table

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Cooked with thyme and lemon in a sous-vide (meaning its sealed in a bag and boiled before being grilled), the breast meat is ridiculously moist and tasty, and complemented with finely cut spirals of sweet potato and asparagus spears.

Jim’s Kitchen Table, Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, daily 7.30am to 10pm, Dhs58. Tel: (02) 4919401. Taxi: Masdar City, Khalifa City entrance.

11. Braised beef short ribs, Catch


Served with strands of fruity pomelo, the cubes of beef have a slightly crunchy coating that open up to a mouthful of moreish, meaty perfection.

Nation Riviera Beach Club, Al Khalidiyah, Abu Dhabi, daily noon till midnight, Dhs88. Tel: (02) 6110909. Taxi: Nation Riviera Beach Club on the Corniche. 

12. Katmer, Bill’s Farm


This Turkish twist on an ice cream sandwich sees paper-thin filo pastry sheets crammed with pistachios, sugar and butter envelope a scoop of vanilla.

Marina Mall breakwater, Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, daily noon until 1am, Dhs75. Tel: (02) 6661179. Taxi: near the breakwater.

13. Meatball Sliders, Buca Di Beppo


Surprisingly simple, but surprisingly good. The restaurant’s famous meatballs are served on soft baps and topped with melted mozzarella and marinara.

Yas Mall, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Wed 10am to 11pm, Thur to Sat 10am to midnight, Dhs40. Tel: (02) 6656247. Taxi: Yas Mall, right in front of Ferrari World.

14. Carpetbaggers, Olives


Beautifully presented on a bed of shells, these fried oysters are sandwiched between slices of beef carpaccio and truffle mash potatoes and dissolve the minute they hit your tongue.

Venetian Village, Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi, daily 6.30pm to 11pm, Dhs85. Tel: (02) 4041941. Taxi: next to Ritz-Carlton. 

15. Seared scallops, Finz


Served with a celeriac purée and green apple shards, the combination of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy delight.

Beach Rotana, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Wed 3pm to 1am, Thur and Fri 12.30pm to 3am, Sat 12.30pm to 1am, Dhs90. Tel: (02) 6979011. Taxi: Next to Abu Dhabi Mall. 

16. Hot Chocolixir, Godiva Café


This hot chocolate is exactly what you’d expect from the renowned Belgian chocolatiers – creamy, rich and indulgent.

The Galleria, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Al Maryah Island, Sat to Wed 9am to 11pm, Thur and Fri 9am to midnight, Dhs40. Tel: (02) 6670717. Taxi: Galleria, Al Maryah Island. 

17. Kunafa, 18°


The oozy cheese topped with crispy vermicelli is a refined take on the classic Arabic dessert.

Hyatt Capital Gate, Khaleej Al Arabi Street, Abu Dhabi, daily 6am to 10.30am, noon until 3pm, 7pm to 11.30pm, Dhs45. Tel: (02) 5961440. Taxi: Near Adnec. 

18. Saffron pistachio milkshake, Mama Tani


Made of camel milk, pistachios and saffron flavoured ice cream, this thick milkshake is certainly worth the calorie count.

World Trade Centre Souk, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 10pm, Dhs24. Tel: (02) 88448447. Taxi: WTC Souk. 

19. Wagyu Hambagu, Mikado Café

Itadakimasu! Which means… ‘enjoy your meal!’ #MikadoCafe #Bakery #UAE #Dubai #AD #AbuDhabi #Dinner

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Served on a sizzling platter, you won’t miss the carbs when you bite into this bun-less wagyu patty flavoured with a slightly sweet teriyaki sauce.

Al Hana Tower, Al Khalidyah, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Wed 8am to 10.30pm, Thur to Sat 8am to 11pm, Dhs45. Tel: (02) 6670305. Taxi: Corniche Road and Khaleej Al Arabi St. 

20. Bubble gum soda, The Third Place


This pomegranate and bubble gum soda tastes like our childhood (and Hubba Bubba gum).

Corniche Street, Khalidiyah, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 11pm, Dhs24. Tel: (02) 6811877. Taxi: Corniche Street. 

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