Nicolas Budzynski, global operations director of LPM Restaurant & Bar, deems this “a very exciting time in the F&B world”. LPM Dubai is one of 69 restaurants in the Dubai guide, which is made up of nine venues with one star, two with two stars, 14 in the value-for-money Bib Gourmand category and 44 with an honorary mention.
“It is extremely encouraging for the country and the region, as it will only add focus on the Middle East’s talents and culinary scene. I hope that Michelin keeps highlighting home-grown concepts, while international brands are still fairly considered,” Budzynski tells The National, while Benjamin Wan, corporate Middle East chef at Coya, says: “Abu Dhabi has an incredible culinary scene, and it’s a real shame that it is often overshadowed by Dubai.”
So as we wait with bated breath for the list of Michelin-approved restaurants in the capital, we ask the chefs and restaurateurs associated with venues in the Michelin Guide Dubai for their predictions on the Abu Dhabi list.
It remains to be seen which (if any) will make the final cut, but in the meantime, here are seven restaurants recommended by in-the-know chefs to add to your dining-out list.
Otoro, Al Qana
Recommended by: Akmal Anuar chef and owner at 11 Woodfire, a one-Michelin-starred restaurant in Dubai
“The restaurant I think deserves to be in the Abu Dhabi Michelin Guide is Otoro, a modern Japanese restaurant that serves top-notch cuisine and has a comfortable feel. It provides a blend of South-East Asia, keeping current and relevant with the Abu Dhabi market and international preferences.”
Zuma, The Galleria Al Maryah Island
Recommended by: Alessio Pirozzi, chef de cuisine at Torno Subito, a one-Michelin-starred restaurant in Dubai
“Zuma places a strong focus on the quality of its food using high-quality ingredients. I have dined at Zuma in a variety of cities, and each time has been a delightful experience. I love how consistent it is, no matter where you are in the world. I also like how the chefs have given Japanese cuisine a modern spin, making it more appealing to guests while still keeping it authentic.”
Cafe James, Shams Boutik
Recommended by: Howard Ko, executive chef at Ce La Vi, a 'Michelin Guide Dubai' restaurant
“Chef James Soo Yong Kim, whom I knew during my time in NYC, is a chef with many talents and one to watch in Abu Dhabi. He has worked at many award-winning restaurants in NYC, such as Acme, Prospect, Skal, Blanca and Caviar Russe. His casual restaurant, Cafe James, serves exceptional bistro flair with attention to detail. The coffee is fantastic, and the farm he works on is as local and sustainable as possible. He also has some beautiful projects in the pipeline that will be a great addition to creating a fantastic culture in hospitality in Abu Dhabi.”
Niri Restaurant, Mamsha Al Saadiyat
Recommended by: Giovanni Ledon, chef de cuisine at Akira Back, a 'Michelin Guide Dubai' restaurant
“Niri is a restaurant that captures the true spirit and essence of Japanese cuisine, perfectly matched with a stylish and minimalistic atmosphere. The fantastic selection of high-quality ingredients is not only a genuine representation of Japanese food, but also a great reflection of the izakaya culture in the Middle East.”
Nolu’s, The Galleria Al Maryah Island
Recommended by: Howard Ko at Ce La Vi
“Marjon Andesha, whom I have had the pleasure to know for two years, is the founder and executive chef of Nolu’s Group. She is Afghani and a Californian native, who has been running Nolu’s since 2011 and is an asset to Abu Dhabi's culinary scene.
“She serves delicious food with flare, and is continually experimenting and utilising the freshest ingredients to showcase flavours inspired by both Afghani and Californian cuisine. In Nolu’s, casual California cool meets the smoky flavours of Afghani cuisine, all with a modern twist that is approachable to all guests. Her breakfast, too, is fantastic and a favourite among local VIPs.”
Talea by Antonio Guida, Mandarin Oriental Emirates Palace
Recommended by: Yunus Emre Aydin, executive chef at Marea Dubai, a 'Michelin Guide Dubai' restaurant
“Talea by Antonio Guida brings classical dishes from across Italy to the UAE. Chef Guida is the head of the two Michelin-starred restaurant Seta at Mandarin Oriental, Milan. I also had the opportunity to meet and work with him in Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum.
“The menu at Talea – cucina di famiglia, which means family-style cuisine – draws on Guida’s distinctive culinary alchemy and interpretation of dishes that are traditionally known and cherished by many households across Italy.
“From its famed ravioli, handcrafted carbonara and artisanal pizza, to the freshest salads, irresistible burrata, ossobuco [stewed veal shanks in meat sauce], and vitello tonnato (chilled veal in tuna-caper sauce that forms an indispensable part of the Assumption Day feast in Milan), the gastronomic delights of Talea fuse the traditional techniques of Milanese classics with an innovative edge to present a tantalising interpretation that is the signature trademark of Guida.
“I believe the restaurant’s focus on freshness and quality of the products along with the traditional touches makes it a worthy Michelin contender.”
Ushna, The Souk at Qaryat Al Beri
Recommended by: Rami Massuod, general manager at 3 Fils, a 'Michelin Guide Dubai' restaurant and winner of Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants
“I believe Indian restaurant Ushna is deserving of recognition from the Michelin Guide in Abu Dhabi. Its food quality is outstanding while offering value for money, consistency, and friendly, welcoming service. Michelin arriving in Abu Dhabi is an amazing opportunity for the capital to highlight and recognise its ever-evolving and strengthening restaurant industry, and I believe the guide’s launch will continue to elevate quality and creativity. I also hope it will showcase Abu Dhabi’s local and home-grown restaurants.”
Scroll through the gallery below to see the Bib Gourmand restaurants in the Dubai 'Michelin Guide'