It was only a matter of time before the UAE attracted the Michelin Guide, and this year, the country was bestowed not one, but two. Dubai's was announced in June, with Abu Dhabi's unveiled in a ceremony at Emirates Palace hotel on Thursday.
The event revealed 42 restaurants covering 16 cuisines selected by the Michelin inspectors. Of those, three fine-dining establishments received one star each, while four got a nod in the Bib Gourmand category.
Here's an introduction to the three spots that received one Michelin star.
99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant
The restaurant was launched at the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island in 2017. Abu Dhabi was the first location outside of Spain to receive the internationally renowned brand, while its Dubai outpost opened in 2020.
99 Sushi serves what Michelin describes as contemporary Japanese cuisine, and its comprehensive menu takes in all manner of tartares and temaki. It serves three types of sushi (the gunkan king crab comes highly recommended), plus fish and Wagyu options.
A statement released by the Michelin Group describes 99 Sushi as a “chic restaurant with beautifully presented dishes, full of finesse and precision”.
As is often the case at Michelin-starred restaurants around the world, 99 Sushi has a set tasting menu. For Dh950, you can get a 13-course meal including edamame with Kobe fat and truffle; sea urchin tempura with an egg yolk and lemon-butter sauce; grilled foie gras nigiri with raspberry and tare sauce; and yuzu cheesecake with kunafa ice cream.
The restaurant is also currently serving a five-course menu for Dh555 per couple until December 10 to celebrate its fifth anniversary and first Michelin star.
Open daily; noon-3.30pm and 7pm-11.30pm; Four Seasons Hotel, The Galleria Al Maryah Island; 02 672 3333; www.99sushibar.com
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi
A veteran on the capital’s fine-dining scene, Hakkasan had been a must-visit for residents and visitors long before its Michelin star came along. The cavernous space is nestled within Emirates Palace hotel, while the cooler months see the opening of its buzzing terrace.
The menu is a study in Chinese cuisine, and masterfully blends flavours, cooking techniques and the freshest of ingredients. As the Michelin Guide notes: “Hakkasan Abu Dhabi offers customers time-honoured classics prepared with enormous skill.”
No visit to the restaurant is complete without sampling the dim sum — be it the lychee lobster, Wagyu truffle puff, abalone chicken shui mai, morel mushroom or a platter of them all. The Peking duck is another signature dish and comes with the option of adding 30 grams of Kaviari caviar at an additional Dh1,400.
A la carte options aside, Hakkasan Abu Dhabi has two set menus for Dh500 and Dh688 a pop.
Sunday to Friday, 6pm-11.30pm; Saturday, noon-3.30pm and 6pm-11.30pm; Emirates Palace, Corniche Road; 02 690 7739; www.hakkasan.com
Talea by Antonio Guida
Perhaps the boldest choice in the debut Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi, Talea has been open for only eight months, and is also in Emirates Palace. Despite its relative newbie status, the restaurant is helmed by a veteran.
Italian chef Antonio Guida has worked alongside renowned chefs and brands (Pierre Gagnaire in Paris and Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence) and in Michelin-starred restaurants (Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole, Tuscany, and Seta at Mandarin Oriental, Milan) for decades.
The Michelin inspectors said they were most impressed by the restaurant’s “understated sophistication and for pleasing diners with its cucina di famiglia or family-style Italian cuisine”.
Indeed, a review by The National earlier this year revealed a menu that was at once classic but decadent: the ricotta-stuffed ravioli, for example, comes drenched in a zingy lemon-butter sauce with the perfect cheese-to-pasta-to-sauce ratio. Other Michelin-recommended dishes include the maccheroncelli alla Genovese, turbot with Mediterranean guazzetto and tiramisu that’s made tableside.
The restaurant’s chef Luigi Stinga also took home the guide’s Young Chef Award in Abu Dhabi.
Open daily; 12.30pm-4pm and 6pm-10.30pm; Emirates Palace, Corniche Road; 02 690 7999; www.mandarinoriental.com