From sandy beaches to the retail extravaganza and burgeoning art scene, not to mention the wealth of options for wining and dining that can suit your every fancy… Dubai has SO much going for it.
And the best part, it’s just a short flight away from Mumbai, making it the perfect getaway whenever I’m in that neck of the woods and in need of a break!
Reminiscing about an idyllic week spent there earlier this year, here are the some of the many highlights from my last visit…
Zuma is usually the first port of call when I hit Dubai, starved for good Japanese fare. I love the spacious feel, buzzy smart-casual ambience and its very vegetarian friendly menu which does a lot right by staple dishes, whilst adopting a contemporary approach. Must-haves include eggplant with miso; spinach laced in sesame, and the soft creamy home-made tofu subtly flavoured with barley miso, ginger and other spices. An all-time favourite, perhaps even over and above it’s counterparts in London, Zuma Dubai never disappoints.
Zuma Dubai, Gate Village 6, Podium Level, Sheikh Zayed Road – Towards DIFC Parking
A real find, for which I must thank a fellow food enthusiast who tipped me off before my last visit to DXB. You can custom-make your sushi roll at Chez Sushi, choosing between brown or white rice, the main fillings, toppings and dressings. Everything is incredibly fresh and as a vegetarian I was spoilt for choice with the number of ingredients on offer.
Although there are a couple of outposts across the city, I was lucky enough to be visiting Dubai during the annual food festival and so found myself making several trips to their pop-up at Kite Beach just to experiment with different combinations (and maybe soak up a little sun!) A definite winner was avocado, asparagus, carrots and tofu rolled in brown rice and coated with tempura bits and sesame seeds, indulgently dipped in spicy mayo. Quick and easy Japaneasy, and quite possibly the best sushi I’ve ever had.
Chez Sushi, Silverene Tower – Dubai Marina (for more locations, see their website)
Located in Dubai mall, Katsuya is perfect for a mid-shopping sushi pit stop.
I know, I know. But what can I say, I’m really keen on Japanese food and deprived of choice in Bombay, I do tend to overdose when in Dubai!
Anyways, back to Katsuya – an L.A. export featuring the distinctive and trendy style of French interior designer Philippe Starck. Expect iconic samurai hats and swords gracing the walls alongside colourful Japanese fans made from acrylic, while eye-catching black and white paper lanterns hang from ceilings. Disappointingly veggie choices are quite limited, but we really enjoyed what we did have, the edamame hummus and tofu tobanyaki particularly good.
Katsuya, Level 1, Dubai Mall
As for me, I always head to Papparoti for their signature melt-in-your mouth buns, washed down with a piping hot caramel macchiato. Originating in Malaysia, the snack concept has now scattered it’s delightful crumbs all over, from China to the U.A.E., recently opening in Bayswater, London too! Their specialty is espresso-infused buns glazed with a creamy yet crispy outer layer that cocoons the softest centre oozing melted butter. Served fresh out of the oven, it always hit the spot.
Papparoti, Level 1, TDM 218, Dubai Mall
With all the indulgence on offer, it was nice to sneak in a delicious dose of healthy, with a colourful mix of wholesome and vegan salads to go from the Kitsch Counter, a tiny eatery geared towards take-aways. All brilliant, but I especially loved the raw zucchini pasta with quinoa, tomatoes and feta. They also have an enticing selection of naughty but very nice treats. Their paleo dairy-free sugar-free gluten-free coconut cupcake may have had me back for seconds.
Kitsch Counter, Jumeira Beach Road; Villa 611 – Umm Suqeim 1 (between Manara & Umm Al Sheif); and at DIFC Marble Walk Gate Building 5
And finally, what would a memorable holiday be without a cocktail or few to sit back and drink it all in?
One of Dubai’s favourite watering holes (pun intended), 360° is a helipad-shaped bar jutting off at the end of Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s private pier. We went for sundowners, a splendid choice given the chilled out vibes and breathtaking views looking out on to Burj al Arab’s light show and the endless Arabian Ocean…
360°, Jumairah Beach Hotel, Near Jumeirah Road
But speaking of water front bars, it was an evening spent at 101 bar at the One and Only Palm which really was the highlight of my trip. The stylish outdoor lounge has an unbelievably gorgeous setting sitting out on the pristine blue waters of the luxurious resort’s private marina with panoramic views of the city’s skylines. Lulled into a state of zen by the gentle lapping of the waves, laid back tunes and muted yet sumptuous ambience, it truly completed the holiday.
101, One & Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai