The debut Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi was unveiled in a lavish ceremony at Emirates Palace on Thursday. The Abu Dhabi guide comes five months after the UAE got its first red city guide for Dubai.
A total of 42 restaurants made the cut in the capital, with three winning one Michelin star. No restaurant in Abu Dhabi was given two stars and, as with Dubai, none were awarded three stars — something Michelin bestows for what it describes as “exceptional cuisine”.
The restaurants that can now be added to culinary bucket lists are: 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant, Hakkasan and Talea by Antonio Guida, which got one star each, denoting a very good restaurant in its category, according to the Michelin Guide.
“Abu Dhabi's is a rapidly evolving landscape and this is just the kick-off party, a way to ignite the dynamic and raise the bar,” Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guide, tells The National.
Since its introduction in 1900 by the French tyre company, the Michelin Guide has come to represent restaurants that serve the finest-quality dishes from across the world, with the focus being firmly on the taste of dish, quality of its ingredients and a mastery of cooking, rather than ambience, presentation or price.
Of the restaurants that received an honourable mention in place of a star in this latest city guide, four were also included in the Bib Gourmand category: Almayass, Beirut Sur Mer, Otoro and Tazal.
Named after Bibendum, the Michelin Man and the group's official company mascot, the category is “not quite a star, but most definitely not a consolation prize”, says Poullennec. Rather, it recognises “just-as-esteemed establishments” that serve good food at reasonable prices.
Three additional special awards were also announced including the Sommelier Award for Marlon Nuque of Zuma; the Service award for the Li Beirut restaurant team; and the Young Chef Award for Luigi Stinga from Talea by Antonio Guida.
Fittingly, four international Michelin-lauded chefs put together the menu for the evening's celebrations. Simon Rogen, Bjorn Frantzen, Jimmy Ophorst and Cheryl Koh were joined by two chefs from Emirates Palace. The ingredients were sourced by Classic Fine Foods, a supplier of premium ingredients in the UAE, and included oysters, caviar, red snapper and lamb neck.
Restaurants are selected by anonymous food inspectors who are required to travel the world, familiarise themselves with cuisine of all types and eat 300 meals out a year. Inspectors are allowed to cast their vote only once they’ve completed a minimum of three years in the field, says Poullennec.
“The same inspector never visits a place twice, and different inspectors visit a place at different times to monitor consistency,” he explains. “Stars are then allocated based on a collective decision. And this is why for a restaurant that has even just one star, it means a lot to the industry.”
Like its Dubai counterpart, the Abu Dhabi guide is online only.
List of Abu Dhabi restaurants with Michelin stars
- 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant, The Galleria Al Maryah Island
- Hakkasan, Emirates Palace
- Talea by Antonio Guida, Emirates Palace
List of Abu Dhabi restaurants in the Bib Gourmand category
- Almayass, The Galleria Al Maryah Island
- Beirut Sur Mer, Mamsha Al Saadiyat
- Otoro, Al Qana
- Tazal, Al Qana
List of restaurants selected for the Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi
- Al Mrzab, Al Mushrif
- Butcher & Still, Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island
- Byblos Sur Mer, InterContinental Abu Dhabi
- Cafe James, Shams Boutik
- Cafe Milano, Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island
- Catch by St Regis, The St Regis Abu Dhabi
- Cipriani, Yas Island
- Coya Abu Dhabi, The Galleria Al Maryah Island
- Dai Pai Dong Restaurant, Rosewood Abu Dhabi
- Finz, Beach Rotana
- Fishmarket, InterContinental Abu Dhabi
- Fouquet's, Louvre Abu Dhabi
- Grand Beirut, The Galleria Al Maryah Island
- Hoi An, Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri
- Li Beirut, Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers
- Li Jiang, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
- LPM Abu Dhabi, The Galleria Al Maryah Island
- Market Kitchen, Le Royal Meridien Al Markaziya
- Martabaan by Hemant Oberoi, Emirates Palace
- Mazi, The St Regis Al Saadiyat Island
- Meylas, Al Muneera
- Mijana, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
- Moksh, Etihad Towers
- Namak, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi
- Niri Restaurant and Bar, Mamsha Al Saadiyat
- Oak Room, Abu Dhabi Edition
- Oii, Al Qana
- Paradiso, Yas Bay
- Punjab Grill, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
- Shang Palace, Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri
- Silk & Spice, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche
- Tean, Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
- VaKaVa Pan Latin Grill and Lounge by Richard Sandoval, Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers
- Villa Toscana, The St Regis Abu Dhabi
- Zuma Abu Dhabi, The Galleria Al Maryah Island
Scroll through the gallery below to see the Michelin-starred restaurants in Dubai