GTherefore, “Ossiano” also does not work without the precious metal. A few slices of gold leaf shimmer on rice tartlets with nori seaweed. Each subsequent dish has a story: the “olives”—actually sheep’s milk ice cream covered in white chocolate—evoke memories of French chef Grégoire Berger’s grandfather’s olive grove, and the mushroom-covered scallops—a Breton winter evening. . The main course is hake covered in pitch-black cuttlefish custard in a garlicky kombu sauce, also black — because it’s completely dark at 2,000 meters, where the hake grows.
Such tricks can quickly seem difficult, but this is not the case in “Ossiano”. The austere drama of the menu ensures that the visit is more memorable than the floor-to-ceiling aquarium, in which 65,000 fish swim past guests. The exclusive seafood restaurant is located in the basement of Atlantis, a luxury hotel atop The Palm, an artificial island that Dubai filled in to make way for more beach. Recently, it could call itself a star restaurant: in June, the Michelin Guide awarded its coveted accolades to the desert city for the first time. “Ossiano” is one of nine restaurants that received one star, “Il Ristorante – Niko Romito” and “STAY by Yannick Alléno” received two stars each. In a statement, Gwendal Pullenek, international director of the restaurant guide, praised the hosts’ enthusiasm and the city’s “unique energy.”
From star restaurants to street food
In culinary terms, the emirate has until now been associated primarily with pomp and extravagance. Franck Ribery also played a role in this, who in January 2019 published a photo of a ribeye steak with gold leaf for 1,200 euros. The footballer ordered it from Nusret Gökçe, a Turkish chef with 46 million followers on Instagram and the motto “Nothing is impossible” – nothing is impossible. Even if you avoid his Nusr-Et restaurant, he still shines at many a table in Dubai. At the same time, numerous emigrants (more than 90 percent of the approximately 3.5 million residents moved here from abroad) ensure the development of a diverse cuisine in the Persian Gulf metropolis – from star restaurants to street food.
Trèsind Studio by Himanshu Saini, who came from Delhi and learned to cook at the much-vaunted Indian Accent, also received one star. The first pieces that Saini serves are already convincing with their subtle spiciness – a missy roti filled with papadam curry and a beetroot-balsamic cracker with white chocolate. Eleven dishes follow, served on brightly colored dishes, such as pickled peppers with turmeric flowers and curry ice cream or prawns fried in ghee – a type of clarified butter – and topped with a smoldering cinnamon stick. A multifaceted and humorous journey through the culinary heritage of India – sweet and sour, tart and hot.
Italian mixologist Dom Carella serves up an additional non-alcoholic cocktail that also includes masala-infused black lime juice and a “fake orange wine” made with saffron and apricot juice. To finish, the table is served moon balls with sweet honey cakes to the sounds of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon”, followed by sour milk ice cream sprinkled with gold shards.
Dubai is Saini’s third location along with restaurants in Mumbai and Kuwait. This is also what defines the best gastronomy of the city: chefs from all over the world open branches, Massimo Bottura, as well as Nobu Matsuhisa or Heinz Beck from “La Pergola” in Rome. Elsewhere, chefs are being kicked out of high-end European restaurants. Saverio Sbaragli previously cooked for Alain Passard at the three-star Paris restaurant Arpège. At Al Muntaha on the 27th floor of the Burj al Arab, the sail-shaped seven-star hotel that symbolizes the emirate’s claim to prestige, he now serves pumpkin caviar puree and king langoustine. It also received a Michelin star.
The menu at “Trèsind Studio” costs the equivalent of 150 euros. You can also get your money’s worth much cheaper in Dubai. The deal is a diner popular with Pakistani taxi drivers, located a few kilometers from the skyscrapers of the city center, where the streets are dusty and passers-by beg for change for the next lunch. In Germany, “Ravi” became famous thanks to Tim Meltzer’s cooking show “Kitchen Impossible”: top chef Jan Hartwig had to cook ginger chicken with “Ravi”.
Vegetarians won’t miss out either: for the equivalent of six euros, there are two kinds of dhal and a kind of potato stew, as well as a biryani rice dish, fancy with whole cloves and naan bread dipped in butter. The English owner is enough to ask about the client’s tolerance for harshness. Adidas recently even released its own shoe collection in collaboration with the iconic restaurant.
Contrary to what you might expect, the 35 square kilometer emirate also has regional food: Dubai grows organic fruit, salads and herbs, collects honey and operates the largest fish farm in the United Arab Emirates. More and more restaurants are working with local products, primarily seafood, which you can see by visiting Time Out Market, right across from Dubai Mall. In the covered food market, which also serves as an evening meeting place overlooking the Dubai Fountains, 18 restaurants offer their Signature dishes while the Çai cart rings loudly in the aisles: Lana Lusa serves up cod ceviche, for example, and BB Social Dining serves up fried king crab bao burgers. Here, too, you can’t do without chic: the assortment of the ice cream shop “Scoopi” includes coal ice cream with food gold.
Specializing in single-serve tea and sourdough bread, the cafe recently opened on Alserkal Avenue, an artsy district with raw industrial charm. With its understated wood and concrete interior, Pekoe Tea & Bread Bar could also be in Berlin or Brooklyn – the logo consists of golden tea leaves. Also worth a visit is Koa, a co-working space in the middle of the desert with an oasis-like pool and a deli, the only restaurant in Dubai to receive a green star for environmental stewardship. At Lowe’s, Kate Christow and Jessie Blake regularly serve a so-called no-waste menu of eight to 10 dishes that they use leftovers from over the past few weeks. The restaurant stands out not only for its avoidance of waste, but also for its creative use of open fire: the centerpiece of the kitchen is an impressive charcoal grill, which, in addition to three-tiered Wagyu burgers and mature lamb chops, features fluffy sesame bread and a wonderfully smoky tahini and eggplant sauce, accompanied by a refreshing yuzu kombucha , which is also necessary at a temperature of about 40 degrees.
Excellent coffee can be purchased at Orfali Bros, which received the Bib Gourmand award from Guide Michelin. The bistro in Jumeirah’s waterfront area is dominated by an open kitchen that stretches over two floors, with Arabic dance music fueling the mood. At high speed, Mohammad, Wassim and Omar Orfali send out delectable plates that oscillate between Zeitgeist (sourdough roll with caviar) and Middle Eastern classics (buttery eggplant covered in walnuts and Muhammar spice paste). Sour fermented tomatoes come from local cultivation. The brothers, who emigrated from Syria, devote themselves to the confectionery business with special dedication. Strawberry cheesecake consists of two types of cream, pistachio tart with several layers of nuts toasted to varying degrees. They search for gold in vain. That’s right, it has no taste of its own.
The trip was supported by Visit Dubai. Our standards of transparency and journalistic independence can be found here.