Food news: 15 new restaurants, menus and food festivals to sample in the UAE

From a limited-edition milkshake and two new brunches, to culinary events celebrating multiple cuisines, here's where you can eat this week

The spread at Bebabel, the Lebanese restaurant that opened at The Dubai Mall earlier this year. Courtesy Bebabel
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Bebabel opens in The Dubai Mall

Dubai gets yet another Lebanese eatery in the form of Bebabel, a sub-brand of restaurant group Babel, and which has branches in Kuwait and Bahrain. Designed to resemble a chic cafe with pillared and mirrored interiors that reflect Lebanon’s culture, Babebel serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, from 10am to midnight. On the menu are some of the usual suspects – lentil soup, fatayer, kibbeh, shwarma and shish tawouk – plus dishes that channel progressive Lebanese cuisine: saletti, a healthy take on spaghetti, served with a mushroom and mustard dressing (Dh46); tarha, a flatbread with eggs and lamb confit (Dh38); and broccoli with wheat fatteh (Dh33). Desserts include umm Ali and knefeh, as well as karabij with haleweh ice cream (Dh37); meghleh rice pudding with dried fruit and coconut (Dh30); and baklava with mhallabieh milk pudding and cheese (Dh37). Overlooking the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Foutains, the cafe also serves shisha on the terrace. Call 04 526 9292.

Lantern and Moon Festival in Abu Dhabi

Dumplings at Shang Palace

The mid-autumn harvest festival, native to China and Vietnam, returns in the form of the Lantern and Moon Festival to the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, from September 21 to 24. The event will feature lantern-making and -lighting, live music and drum performances, as well as plenty of street food, set menus and especially imported moon cakes. The festival kicks off with Family Friday on September 21, an all-day brunch with beach and pool access (Dh258) at Sofra BLD, from 1pm until 11pm. The Saturday Street Market is on September 22, at Sofra BLD and Shang Palace from 1pm until 4pm, with a lunch buffet for Dh198. Vietnamese restaurant Hoi An will serve a four-course set menu dinner (Dh160) on September 23, from 6.30pm until 11pm, while Chinese eatery Shang Palace has a six-course set menu (Dh200), on September 24, from 7pm until 11pm. Call 02 509 8555.

Singapore Food Festival at Dune Café 

Singaporean chef Raymond Ying will create some of his country’s most famous and authentic dishes at Dune Café in Dubai, from September 20 to 29. The guest chef will create a set menu, which includes cold dishes (sambal ladyfingers; smoked duck with lychee; rojak; and gado-gado); a herbal soup; signature mains (Singapore chilli crab; nyonya curry; sambal fish; hainan chicken rice); nyonya laksa noodles; and four types of dessert. The menu will be served for lunch (Dh150) and dinner (Dh235). The festival is being held in association with Singapore Airlines, and diners could win two round-trip tickets to Singapore, a two-night stay at Shangri-La and a culinary excursion with Singapore Tourism Board. In order to qualify, guests need to post an image of their dining experience on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtag #SavourSingapore. Call 04 405 2703

Eve lounge opens in Dubai

Eve rooftop lounge

Now open on the 34th floor of the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights, this rooftop lounge channels a modern-day Eve – a cosmopolitan traveler and foodie with a love for all things luxurious. The plush Gatsby-esque interiors, complete with crystal chandeliers, mirrored ceilings, velvet ottomans, massive chandeliers and vivid tapestries, all pay homage to this themed opulence, while the menu includes tasty nibbles such pulled camel, chicken or beef bao buns (Dh70 for two); soft-shell crab tacos with habanero mayo (Dh65); charcoal vada pao with gold leaf (Dh65); and battered cod (Dh75). Weight-watchers have a range of healthy bites and bowls, including the kale tabbouleh bowl (Dh65) and vegan tofu bowl (Dh60). The venue is open every day from 4.30pm to 2am, and will feature commercial, house and live music.

Limited-edition milkshake at Black Tap

Smallfoot milkshake at Black Tap

New York burger joint Black Tap is known as much for its “craft burgers” as its CrazyShakes, elaborate, supersized milkshakes that blend all things chocolate with all colours rainbow. The restaurant’s latest concoction is aimed at movie and milkshake connoisseurs. The Smallfoot Shake, which will be available at its Yas Mall, Al Naseem and JBR branches until September 30, celebrates the launch of the blockbuster Smallfoot, which releases in the UAE on September 27. In keeping with the animation film’s yeti protagonist (voiced by Channing Tatum), the milkshake comes with a vanilla frosted rim covered in white and blue chocolate pearls, and is filled with creamy vanilla ice cream, and topped with a crunchy yeti-shaped cookie, whipped cream, a blue sugar straw and white cotton candy sprinkled with blue sugar.

Fish Dubai reopens after summer hiatus

A taste of Greece at Fish Dubai

It’s not uncommon for restaurants to close their doors over the summer, often permanently. Aegean restaurant Fish Dubai, however, reopened its blue shutters this month at its idyllic Mina Seyahi haunt overlooking the Arabian Gulf. Known for its seafood dishes served in the Turkish and Greek styles, the restaurant only serves what has been imported fresh from Turkey, so the menu is never a constant. Foodie favourites include: octopus marinated with orange vinaigrette (Dh40); seabass skewers (Dh75); fried calamari (Dh55); mussels stuffed with spiced rice (Dh40); and pekmez prawns (Dh140). Vegetarian options primarily centre on eggplant, including moussaka (Dh100). Fish Dubai is open from 6pm to 11pm; call 04 511 7373.

Neighbourhood Restaurant Week in Dubai

Chef Masaharu Morimoto

The 13 restaurants at Renaissance Downtown Hotel and JW Marriott Marquis will participate in a two-week Business Bay Neighbourhood festival, from September 23 to October 6. The event takes in multiple cuisines, from Indian, international and Middle Eastern, to French, Japanese and Italian, and includes three types of set menus: Dh160 for pub grub, being served at Bridgewater Tavern, Aqua Poolside Grill & Bar and La Farine Café & Bakery; Dh160 for casual dining, at Izakaya, Positano, Garden, Basta and Bhar; and Dh190 for fine dining, at Prime 68, Tong Thai, Rang Mahal, Blue Blanc and Morimoto. Additionally, the chefs heading up some of these eateries will conduct special culinary events, including the Chefs Table by David Myers (Dh350) on September 24-25 and 27-28; pasta masterclass (Dh120), also by Myers, on September 29; launch of the Morimoto brunch (Dh350 to Dh650) with chef Masahaur Morimoto on September 28; and Middle Eastern masterclass (Dh180) with chef Mohanad Alshamali, on October 5. Call either of the hotels or individual restaurants for more information or to make a booking.

Thursday evening brunch at Nara Pan Asian

Unagi nigri at Nara Pan Asian

Fans of the former fusion Indian resto-bar Spice & Ice can check out the eatery that’s opened in its stead, by the same management under Dubai restaurateur Anand Radia. As its name suggests, Nara Pan Asian serves Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisines, all three of which can be sampled in its Thursday evening brunch. Priced from Dh349, the brunch includes unlimited dimsum and sushi, plus a starter, main and dessert; they recommend the teriyaki beef, Thai green curry and Japanese cheesecake. The offer is valid from 8pm to 11pm, but the entertainment – in the form of a Colombian harpist, sax player and live DJ – continues until the wee hours of the morning. Call 04 421 1356.

Truffle menu at Dino's Bistro Italiano

It's officially truffle season in Italy and, to celebrate, Dino's at Pearl Rotana Abu Dhabi will serve five dishes infused with the aromatic delicacy, until the end of the month. The limited-edition menu can be enjoyed on an a la carte basis and takes in: Al Dio Mio (mixed lettuce, lobster, edamame, black olives and fennel); Truffalina Le Nostre Pizza with burratine and truffle oil; Tartufo Mare e Monte, Piatto Di Pasta (linguini with assorted mushrooms, shrimps, calamari, white wine, cheery tomatos and truffle oil); Risotto Ai Ceci with creamy mozzarella and mint black olive powder; and Manzo, Gambretto, Tartufo, a mix of beef tenderloin, jumbo prawns, truffle mash potato and asparagus. All these dishes will be lavishly garnished with shaved truffle, and will be served everyday until September 30, from noon to 3.30pm and 6pm to 11pm.

Indoors street-food pop-up at Deira City Centre

Occupying 13,000 square feet on the second level at Deira City Centre, the Indoors pop-up is a must-visit for foodies and families. While the kids enjoy live performances by characters from Frozen, Lion King, Toy Story, Beauty & the Beast, Tom & Jerry and The Jungle Book, you can sample nibbles from the 16 street-food vendors dotting the area. These include: burgers from 25”55, karaak and sandwiches from Filli Café, Egyptian koshari from Koshari Point, bubble, fruit and tapioca milk teas from Bulba, pasta prepared in a massive Parmesan cheese wheel at Wheel 35, sorbets at Jelly Belly, and fries and wings at American BBQ joint Frings. The pop-up is active until October 7.

Friday brunch at Ruya

Baby chicken at Ruya

Back by popular demand, the Ruya brunch relaunched this month and will take place at the Grosvenor House restaurant every Friday, from 12.30pm to 3.30pm. Priced between Dh299 and Dh499, the meal includes live food stations for cold starters and desserts, while hot appetizers are served at the table. Appetisers include the Anatolian eatery’s the signature two-cheese pide; lahmacun (spicy lamb); firin pancar (roasted baby beetroots with goat’s cheese and corn bread); gavurdaği (tomato salad with shallots and pomegranate); and simit-coated baby squid. For mains, guests can choose from barley risotto with pulled lamb and spices; grilled seabream; marinated baby chicken; grain-fed rib-eye; or clay pot baby vegetables in a tomato and red pepper sauce. Call 04 399 9123.

Le Frenchy opens its doors in Dubai Marina

Le Frenchy at Marina Byblos

Restaurateur Kevin Sachy, one half of the father-son team behind Casablanca’s Le Trica and L’Atelier Thai, opened his first restaurant at Marina Byblos Hotel this month. Le Frenchy promises affordable and home-cooked French food in an ambience that can best be described as kooky: from its moustachioed mascot and mopeds at the entrance to the Eiffel Tower-shaped tables. The menu includes delicacies such as escargot in garlic butter (Dh95), goat cheese mille feuilles (Dh69), filet mignon (Dh159), and for dessert, pain perdu grand-mere (baked croissant with caramel sauce; Dh45), vanilla and chocolate profiteroles (Dh39) and creme brulee (Dh39). Call 04 449 8051 to book a table.

Children eat free at Carluccio’s

If the end of the holiday and start of the school year has you feeling a bit skint, head to any of the Italian restaurant’s branches in the UAE for a free three-course menu – for your kids. For every main meal ordered by an adult, Carluccio’s will serve bread and veg sticks, pizza and pasta, and an ice cream or cake to suffice one child, at no additional charge. The offer is valid on all weekdays in September, and is applicable for children who are 11 years and younger.

Doorstep delivery from The Cheesecake Factory

Salted caramel cheesecake

When just any other cheesecake will not do, you can now order from the Factory via Deliveroo. The much-loved American chain, which has six outlets in the UAE, has partnered with the delivery-service – reportedly on the back of repeated requests from its foodie fans – for the first time in Dubai. Desserts aside, The Cheesecake Factory serves up a range of delectable (and well-portioned) salads, rolls, pastas and burgers. The restaurant lists as its four must-try dishes the chicken madeira, avocado eggrolls, bacon-bacon cheeseburger and four cheese pasta. Orders can be placed via Deliveroo’s website or app.

Quiz night at The Lion

Newly branded British pub The Lion by Nick & Scott (what used to be The Black Lion), at the H Dubai, will run its Landlord Quiz Night every Monday from 7.30pm. While the first three places get weekly vouchers for Dh500, Dh300 and Dh200 respectively, regular quiz-takers who accumulate the maximum points until December 16, will win a two-night stay at Oman’s luxurious Six Senses Zighy Bay resort, valued at Dh10,000. The Lion also launched its All Freakin’ Day Friday brunch this month, with packages starting from Dh250. Call 04 359 2366.


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