It’s all in celebration of the second edition of the MENA 50 Best list…

After the huge success of this year’s inaugural MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants — the coveted list, voted for by industry experts, identifying the best and brightest culinary lights in the region — Abu Dhabi is now gearing up to host the second edition, taking place January 30, 2023.

The top spot in 2022 went to iconic Jumeirah-based foodie-favourite, 3Fils — but will it be able to hang on to its regional crown with so many new megastars in the UAE’s culinary cosmos? Also in 2022, Abu Dhabi was home to three restaurants in the top 50, with Hakkasan Abu Dhabi ranked as the 25th best in region, Coya Abu Dhabi as the 34th, and luxe steakhouse Butcher & Still holding up the 48th spot. But can they improve on this tally in 2023?

You’ll have to wait until the end of January for the answers to these deliberately leading questions. And, just to add to the salivatory expectation, we have some more tasty nuggets (sorry, goujons) of anticipatory gastronomy to tease you with.

The 50 Best Signature Sessions are a series of 10 heavyweight haute-cuisine collaborations dropping in various Abu Dhabi venues between Friday, January 27 and Wednesday, February 1, 2023, featuring a mixed-up, mashed-up, blend of international and local talent. Here’s what you can expect.

Graphos Social Kitchen x multiple chef legends

Taking place on Saturday January 28, 2023 — Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island’s all-day diner, Graphos Social Kitchen will be lensing under the gravity of some truly massive cheffing talent. At this one-off (6.30pm to 10.30pm) evening brunch be able to pick up dishes conceived by Mauro Colagreco, the chef-owner of Mirazur in Menton, France, which was ranked the No.1 restaurant in the entire world in 2019; Latin luminary and Mexican chef Santiago Lastra of Kol in London; Japanese master Hiroyasu Kawate of Florilège in Tokyo; and Asia’s Best Pastry Chef winner Maira Yeo of Cloudstreet in Singapore. The sips aren’t neglected either, with guest mixologists from The World’s 50 Best Bars, including Patrick Pistolesi, the charismatic creator of Drink Kong in Rome, and Coralie Dolliet of the top-rated Dubai night spot, Galaxy Bar. The price for this, what has to be one of the heaviest list of brunch headliners we’ve ever seen? Dhs495, all inclusive. @hiltonabudhabiyasisland

Hiroyasu Kawate x 99 Sushi


The Helmsman of Tokyo’s Florilège, the no.3 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022, lands at this Al Maryah Island culinary gem on Friday, January 27, just months after being awarded a Michelin Star in Abu Dhabi’s inaugural Guide. For one night only, and in the esteemed collab company of 99 Sushi’s kitchen wizards, Chef Kawate will conceive and execute a very special menu. The price is Dhs990. Call: (02) 672 3333. @99sushibaruae

Darren Teoh x Otoro

On Friday January 27 (with two seatings, at 6.30pm and 9pm), Darren Teoh the chef and founder of Dewakan in Kuala Lumpur, voted The Best Restaurant in Malaysia by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022, is jetting in to add some South East Asian spice to the offerings of new Al Qana hot spot, Otoro (recently awarded a Bib Gourmand gong in the Abu Dhabi Michelin Guide 2022, and run by multi-Michelin and 50 Best awardee Chef Akmal Anuar). This result of this top tier back-to-back match-up, is a stunning six-course meander through the chefs’ signature dishes alongside some completely original creations, is priced at Dhs625 and has the option of a (non alcoholic) beverage pairing bolt on available at Dhs100. To book email:

Karim Bourgi x Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers

Conrad Abu Dhabi already has a reputation for hosting the most elegant sort of What’s On Award-winning Afternoon Tea at a pair of its statement venues (Observation Deck and Lobby Lounge), but on Saturday January 28 and Tuesday January 31, 2023 — the sophistication is taking the elevator up to a new level.  The considerable set of skills belonging to regionally-based rising pastry chef star Karim Bourgi, are being paired with those of the hotel’s own award-winning Executive Pastry Chef, Sumeda Palihakkara. The result: High expectations, hight tea, and a high perch to enjoy it from (the Observation Deck (Dhs260) is on the 63rd floor, or you can choose to take it at the Lobby Lounge (Dhs230). Book by calling (02) 811 5666,

Tala Bashmi x Oak Room

It’s through tasty collaborative acorns, that mighty Oak Rooms grow. One of the Capital’s favourite steakhouses, Oak Room, helmed by rockstar, Michelin-honoured chef Tom Aikens, will be on the receiving end of a pretty special dinner guest on Saturday, January 28. Tala Bashmi, creator of Fusions by Tala and MENA’s Best Female Chef 2022, will be adding her own distinctive reinterpretive style to the kitchen’s handiwork. The pricing is currently unconfirmed. For bookings call (02) 208 0000,

Vicky Cheng x Dai Pai Dong

On Saturday, January 28 — Rosewood’s waterfront Cantonese fine diner, Dai Pai Dong will have a new, temporary, culinary star joining the kitchen team. Vicky Cheng, the creative mind behind French-Chinese restaurant Vea, will be joining forces with resident Chef Nie Dong to create an electric and eclectic menu celebrating the pioneering taste experiences of Cantonese cuisine. Prices TBC. To book call: (02) 813 5588, or email:

Massimiliano Alajmo x Talea by Antonio Guida

One of our favourite new additions to Abu Dhabi’s dining scene is hosting a 50 Best collab with culinary wastakind Alajmo Massimiliano, point man at the three Michelin Starred Le Calandre restaurant in Italy. He joins Chef Luigi Stinga of Talea by Antonio Guida, a man that is also, no doubt, destined for gastronomic greatness, to jointly tell a story of the glory of refined Italian cuisine. Emirates Palace, Sunday, January 29, price Dhs700. Call (02) 690 7999,

Tomer Tal x Maté

The talented Chef and judge of prime time cooking show, Tomer Tal will be letting his cooking do the talking at a one-off dinner, taking place in the recently opened Maté, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island. Expect an elaborate South American x Middle Eastern cuisine theme across a show-stopping count of eight-courses. To book call: (054) 581 2576, @parkhyattad

Jessica Rosval x Café Milano

The Canadian culinary export currently heading up Casa Maria Luigia, Chef Jessica Rosval will be bringing a selection of classic Italian dishes to Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island, on Tuesday, January 31. The price for the multi-course dinner its Dhs870, and you can register interest now online at or by emailing

Athanasios Kargatzidis x Almayass

And finally, on February 1, 2023, Athanasios Kargatzidis – aka ‘Chef Tommy’ of Baron, The Best Restaurant in Lebanon at MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants — will be dropping into this recent waterfront awardee of a Michelin Bib Gourmand award. Expect a genuine Middle Eastern feast with a laser focus on meritable mezze. Priced at Dhs700. Book now by emailing

Images: Provided/Getty