There is no shortage of Filipino restaurants in the UAE offering popular staples, a few unusual options and everything in between. Stacie Overton Johnson rounds up some of the best. See our pictures for all the details. To find out where the restaurants we mention are, see our map here.
Khalidiya; Mushrif Mall and Hamdan Street, Abu Dhabi
This chain has three locations in the capital and they deliver. The menu is extensive, with a range of beef, chicken, seafood and noodle dishes. They also offer traditional Filipino breakfasts and there’s a section on the menu called “exotic meals”, on which you’ll find dishes such as kinilaw na tanigue (think Filipino ceviche) and ginataang labong (bamboo shoots in coconut milk). The restaurant prides itself on making Filipino expatriates – the third-largest community in the UAE – feel at home.
• Open 7am to midnight; until 1am on Thursday and Friday; call 02 666 0484, Khalidiya; 02 666 0483, Mushrif Mall; 02 666 0485, Hamdan Street. Visit www.trp.ae
Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre
This recently opened buffet-style restaurant is one of the most popular eateries in the capital. Don’t be fooled by its food-court location – it easily stands on its own merits. There is some international and Asian fare on the menu, but the main focus is on Filipino staples. There is even a smattering of snacks and street food. A la carte menu available.
• Open 11am to 11pm; call 02 622 3338
On the corner of Hamdan and Mubarak Street; opposite Al Wahda Mall, Abu Dhabi
This authentic restaurant has two locations in the capital, and it also offers takeaway, delivery and catering. Find dishes such as bangus sisig (sautéed marinated bangus fish with caramelised red onion), bulalo (beef shank with Ortego’s signature brown sauce) and the house special paella with mixed seafood, egg, chicken, rice and Spanish paprika. They also serve a barbecue-chicken tower with signature sauce (pictured) and a hanging skewer of lemon-butter marinated grilled tiger prawns.
• Open 11am to 11pm, call 02 677 0740 or visit www.ortegosdeli.com
Madinat Zayed, Al Falah Street, Abu Dhabi
This two-level restaurant on Al Falah Street has a handful of signature dishes that people keep coming back for, including the sizzling beef ribs adobo, bangus sisig (milkfish) and bulalo (beef marrow stew). The main dining area is upstairs and seats 60. Dishes cost between Dh10 and Dh40.
• Open 8am to midnight, call 02 626 0506; visit www.facebook.com/philippinehutrestaurant2014
Al Ain Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi
It’s easy to feel you’ve been transported to your favourite Filipino neighbourhood once you step inside. This cosy, dimly lit restaurant holds about 20 tables packed neatly under a low brick-and-stone ceiling, and boasts chandeliers made with capiz shells, a mollusc found in the Philippines. The menu is loaded with authentic dishes offering a taste of home in a lively, secluded setting.
• Open 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 1am; until 3am on Thursdays; call 02 679 4777 or visit www.alainpalacehotel.com
Off of Muroor Road, between 13th and 15th street, Abu Dhabi
This restauant opened in March and is already a popular spot among Filipinos. Small and unassuming, the cafe has just a handful of tables, but the food is worth a trip. Chef Uno creates authentic dishes that he serves up with pride (just check out the pics on their Facebook page) – chicken and beef teriyaki in a bowl, pancit canton (pictured), chicken bicol, and chicken adobo with deep fried boiled eggs.
• Open 8am to 11pm; Fridays from 10am to 11pm; visit www.facebook.com/OFM-Restaurant-1686074881647983
Twin Tower, Hamdan Street, Abu Dhabi
The name of this restaurant is what first caught our attention. Filipinos love this popular venue and it’s rated highly online. If you’re looking for authentic flavours, stop in and try one of the signature dishes: boiled shrimp and squid with their special sauce, wicked wings, milkfish belly strips, tangy squid heads, “lock jaw” burgers, noodles in a jar and more. As the name suggests, meals all come with unlimited rice.
• Open 10am to midnight; call 050 206 9446 or visit www.facebook.com/pages/Rice-Overdose/666523120133769
The Filipino Kitchen
Al Zahiyah (Tourist Club Area), Abu Dhabi
Another restaurant by the founders of Rice Overdose. On the menu are classic chicken inasal, a range of sizzling dishes, bulalo, kare kare, beef papaitan (bitter stew made with beef innards), chicken adobo, pinkabet (sautéed mixed veggies with shrimp paste) and grills. This is also one of the few places that offers “boodle fights” (pictured) – a unique style of dining (think military mess hall) in which food is served on banana leaves on long tables; diners eat with their bare hands.
• Open 10am to 11pm; call 02 677 8500 or visit www.thefilipinokitchen.com
The Dubai Mall, BurJuman Center and Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
The wildly popular fast-food chain, created a circus when it opened in The Dubai Mall last year. Fans queued for hours to get a taste of their favourite childhood meals. On opening day, the outlet sold record-breaking amounts of the brand’s famous food and is now the most financially successful worldwide for the company. They’ve since opened two other outlets – in Mall of the Emirates andin BurJuman Center – and there are plans for more. Jollibee will soon open a branch in Al Ghurair Centre, one in Sharjah and two in Abu Dhabi. By 2020, the company says there will be 30 outlets across the UAE. If you haven’t been to a Jollibee yet, try the chickenjoy or the Jolly spaghetti. You will thank us later.
• Opening hours vary; visit www.jollibee.com.ph
Abu Dhabi, Dubai
You can’t have a list of favourite Filipino restaurants without mentioning Max’s. Founded in the Philippines in 1945 by Maximo Gimenez, the family-run restaurant grew in popularity and soon expanded across the country. There are now more than 100 Max’s restaurants across The Philippines, with multiple branches in North America and the Middle East. The chain is known for its sweet and savoury flavours and the signature Sarap to the Bones Max’s Fried Chicken. There are six locations across the UAE.
K6 Building, Al Muraqqabat Street, Deira, Dubai
This restaurant serves up multiple Filipino food brands all under one roof, including Binalot, Jay-J’s, Fruitas Group, Mochi Crème, Zagu and Fiftea. It also has two in-house brands – Kwekie Bites and Breadshop. The concept was brought here by Al Ahli Holdings Group to offer a feeling of home to Filipino expatriates. Given the overwhelming success – the restaurant serves 1,000 customers a day – additional branches will open in Satwa and Karama in Dubai; Sharjah and Abu Dhabi by the end of the year.
• Open 7am to midnight; until 1am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday; call 04 455 1671 or visit www.littlemanila.com
The Hub 7
Cluster M, Icon 1, Lake level, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai
When The Hub 7 opened eight months ago in Jumeirah Lake Towers, it brought an innovative concept to Dubai. The restaurant has seven kitchens with seven chefs who cook seven types of cuisine. While you’ll find other food on offer here, the Filipino cuisine is why it’s made our list. Signature Filipino dishes on The Hub 7’s menu include chicken sisig, pinaputok (fish fillet and vegetables wrapped in foil and steamed in oil) and sipo egg (a seafood curry with quail eggs). Other cuisines include Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Pakistani. There’s also a bakery and a bubble-tea house.
• Open noon to midnight; call 04 369 7649 or visit www.thehub7.com
Asiana Hotel, near Reef Mall, Dubai
This is the only fine-dining Filipino restaurant on our list – and the only one we found in the country. This restaurant opened in the Asiana Hotel in December and serves up authentic Filipino fare in a five-star setting. It seats 140 people and has two private dining rooms. On the menu? Classic chicken inasal, barbecue chicken (wings included), crunchy squid heads, barbecue salmon belly, short ribs, beef tongue in creamy mushroom sauce, deep-fried dory fillet with bean curd in black bean sauce, as well as grilled milkfish.
• Open noon to 3pm and 6pm to 10pm; call 04 608 2140 or visit www.asianahoteldubai.com
Carinderia Ni Tandang Sora
Deira City Centre Area, Shop 21, Centurion Star Tower, Al Etihad Road, Dubai
This little restaurant in Deira is worth seeking out based on online reviews alone. Two words: it’s popular. Here’s a sample of the menu: crispy duck legs, beef bulalo, beef kare-kare (pictured), milkfish cooked in vinegar and ginger, prawns in coconut milk and crispy beef ribs. They even offer the previously mentioned “boodle fights”.
• Open noon to midnight; call 04 297 1835 or 056 771 2388, or visit www.facebook.com/Carinderia-ni-Tandang-Sora-1624365651174348
Sinugba Ng Cucina
Amman Rd, Al Nahda 2, near NMC Hospital, Dubai
Sinugba ng Cucina’s name is a mix of Sinugba – a Philippine term that means grill – and cucina, Italian for kitchen. The chefs in this small restaurant offer up grilled dishes (cooked over a charcoal grill); street food; sinigang; kare kare; sizzling dishes; pancit malabon and much more. There’s an outdoor dining area here, too.
• Open 10am to midnight; call 04 263 7482