Food trends we love & hate: The highs & lows of Dubai's food scene
A look at the food trends in the city, from the good, the bad to the coming soon…
Not all food trends are made equal – let’s be honest, some are downright annoying, and others get tired after too much peddling on Instagram.
Here’s our guide to what’s hot in the Dubai food universe right now, and what we’re, quite frankly, just sick of.
1. Lobster rolls
If there’s one dish that represented 2016’s Dubai culinary scene it was the lobster roll. The culinary pride of the east coast of America and, now, the Middle East, it’s a gourmet ingredient made casual. You’ll find the fancy finger fodder in many of Dubai’s top haunts including Burger & Lobster, Catch, Ting Irie, and Aubaine. But not everyone is able to pull off that perfectly fresh, quality roll. Our pick? The Maine Oyster Bar & Grill. Stuffed with fresh lobster meat and served in a nicely toasted bun, it’s the king of sandwiches – long may he reign.
DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel, JBR, Dubai, daily noon until midnight. Tel: (04) 4576719. Taxi: DoubleTree By Hilton. themaine.ae
2. Fried chicken
The Colonel’s favourite fowl is the latest fast food to get a gourmet makeover. Nowadays, you’re as likely to chow down on a breaded drumstick at a fancy dining table, on your sofa, or at breakfast with waffles, such is the versatility of these poultry pearls. Firebird Diner, P&B’s, Miss Lily’s and Clinton St Baking company all serve fantastic varieties but just thinking about the southern fried chicken with Tabasco honey from Weslodge Saloon leaves us drooling.
68th Floor, Tower B, JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, Dubai, daily 6pm to late. Tel: (04) 5601700. Taxi: Marriott Marquis. facebook.com/WeslodgeDubai
This year saw the abdication of King Kale as the cruciferous of choice in favour of the cauliflower. Versatile enough to perform all sorts of culinary tricks, cauliflower can be grilled like a steak or battered like a piece of chicken; it can be the perfect mashed potato substitute, or crushed into gluten-free pizza crust. We like the Korean fried cauliflower at The Social Room where the sticky and sweet cauliflower florets are battered to perfection.
InterContinental Dubai Marina, Al Sufouh, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 6pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 4466664. Taxi: InterContinental Dubai Marina. marinasocialdubai.com
4. Açaí bowls
Bowl food is hot, and for Dubai’s clean-eating crew nothing could top these rainbow pots of health packed with Brazilian berries, which are widely regarded as a supreme source of essential amino acids and antioxidants. You can find these brilliant bowls at The Surf Café, The Acai Spot and at the What’s On Award-winning café Comptoir 102. The latter includes chocolate, almond milk, coconut water and banana artfully decorated with extra berries.
Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, Sun to Thur 8.30 to 6.30, Fri and Sat 8.30 to 8pm. Tel: (04) 3854555. Taxi: beside Choueri Real Estate Brokers. comptoir102.com
5. Monster shakes
Extreme milkshakes. Freakshakes. Monster Shakes. Let’s face it: these milkshakes are just vessels that allow us to eat double the amount of ice cream in half the time. And we’re OK with that. Our favourite spot for a monster shake? Try Ice Lab and ask for one of its mouth-watering Nutella milkshake jars. For Dhs35, the new Al Quoz dessert parlour packs whole Nutella jars with chocolate ice cream milkshake and lashings of sauce, topping them off with dollops of whipped cream and chocolate flakes.
Al Meydan Road, behind Al Quoz Pond Park, Al Quoz 2, Dubai, daily 10am to midnight. Tel: (050) 1080716. Taxi: Al Quoz Pond Park
1. Avocado on toast
Sitting in the middle of our ‘hot and not’ radar is the avocado toast phenomenon. A Friday morning meal without generous amounts of the green stuff would leave many a Dubai dweller bereft. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the city’s cafés, almost all of which now pander to the avo’ on toast obsession. But after two years starring in the (salt, chilli and) limelight, it might be time for a new breakfast obsession.
2. Food trucks
In 2014 you’d be lucky to find a single food truck on the streets of Dubai. Fast-forward two years and there are meals on wheels almost everywhere, from music festivals and farmers’ markets to private catering parties and high-end hotels. We even have a dedicated food truck park, Last Exit, with another ten set to open next year. Could the so-called food truck revolution be close to stalling?
3. Peruvian food
Latin American food certainly had a moment this year that lasted way longer than it should have. In fact, the city witnessed no less than ten restaurant openings dedicated to all things ceviche. There really is only so much citrus-cured fish one can handle.
4. Sharing concepts
We don’t want to divide an empanada into three slivers – and that doesn’t make us bad people.