If you could only eat one meal in Abu Dhabi
Chefs, DJs and Time Out readers select their favourite dishes Discuss this article
They say: Local chefs and foodies' choices
Roudy Peterson, head chef at Catch
Chicken liver at Abd El Wahab, Souq Qaryat Al Beri
Thanks to a good friend, I have discovered this traditional Arabic dish as the best kept secret in Abu Dhabi. Lemon juice and spices create a sensational and refreshing flavour that is truly unique. Paired with freshly baked Arabic bread, this would definitely be my choice.
Dhs28. Open 12.30pm-11.30pm. Abd El Wahab, Souq Qaryat Al Beri (02 558 1616).
Natasha Kowalski, artist
Suzuki no osashimi at Zuma
I appreciate beautiful interiors and this place is stylishly zen. I’m somewhat addicted to their suzuki no osashimi (thinly sliced seabass with yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe). With the flavour of delicately sliced seabass and truffle oil on my taste buds, this was an easy choice.
Dhs182. Open daily, noon-1am. Zuma, The Galleria, Sowwah Square, on Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).
Cliff Townley, DJ
Shawarma plate at Special Café, Corniche
This is one of the first places I went to in Abu Dhabi and it really captures the city. Thinking of sitting outside on the Corniche, eating shawarma and having shisha at 5am after a gig with friends is always a great thought and would make a great last meal and memory.
Dhs18. Open daily. Special Café, Corniche Road (02 681 7793).
Waleed Shah, White Cube
Hummus with Sojouk at Al Khabiya
This cool little restaurant is right by White Cube Studios so I end up eating this minced sausage dish almost daily – and it’s great. I then find myself driving out of my way to go and eat that dish on days when I’m not even working at the studio. I think this is the definition of addiction.
Dhs26. Open daily. Al Khabiya Coffeeshop, Al Nayhan.
Dorian Rogers, Rooftop Rhythms
Lamb Mandi at Saudi Kitchen
There are actually few places in the city that taste like traditional Emirati food. Saudi Kitchen has Bedouin seating for authenticity and the meat is so tender that it falls straight off of the bone. Very tasty salsa and sour cream accompanies the rice and meat, and the fresh juices such as the kiwi are worth a try.
Dhs60. Open noon-1am. Saudi Kitchen, Gava hotel (02 641 8488).
Nerses Sanassian, White Cube
Chicken fillet and nakanek sandwich with moz halib at Sea Shell
To me, this meal is representative of the vibrant streets and people of the city. It’s a meal we grew up on as low-budget high-school kids, and to this day we still enjoy it. These restaurants are where you share hellos with all brands of the city’s people, from nationals to expats from all branches of society. It’s where we break bread in a comfortable, casual setting to feast on a fried chicken sandwich.
Dhs15. Open 7am-1.30am. Sea Shell, Liwa street, Central Market (near Noor hospital), Corniche Road (02 622 0002).
Patrick Hegarty, Vogue Fitness
Chicken Parmigiana at Andiamo, Al Zeina
This dish reminds me of my favourite dish at home in Australia, which is the schnitzel Parmigiana at Frank’s Restaurant in Townsville, in case you’re ever in the area! I try equivalents across the world, and this is the closest I have found.
Dhs72. Open daily, 11am-10am. Andiamo, Al Raha Beach, Al Zeina (02 556 5775).
Tim Fletcher, senior physiotherapist at Bounceback, Yas Marina
Chicken tower and grilled beef ribs at Ortego’s Deli
This place is a hidden gem. It has been a great find so I feel it’s my duty to share it with you all. The food is so fresh and always cooked to perfection. The focus is good food at a good price and that can be hard to come by in this city.
Dhs49. Open daily. Ortego’s Deli, Hamdan street (02 677 0740).
Calcutta prawn curry at Spice Mela, Rosewood
Spice Mela restaurant in the Rosewood Abu Dhabi hotel has a fine selection of Indian food and I particularly love this unusual homemade wild prawn recipe with coconut, green chillies, cucumber and kalonji. I am pescaterian so I love tasty dishes which have fish but no other meat and are healthy at the same time. I also enjoy a nice atmosphere in a restaurant with good service, so I thoroughly recommend this place.
Dhs125. Currently closed until September. Spice Mela, Sowwah Square, Rosewood Hotel (02 813 5552).
Wilma Burton, artist
Kang Dang at Thai Express
My bucket list meal would have to be at the Thai Express in Al Wahda Mall. There are a few locations, but this one is the best. I just love their Kang Dang, or Thai red curry with chicken and rice on the side along with a fresh young coconut. I can taste all the fresh ingredients as I tell you about them. Their red curry sauce is thick and mild, an explosion of amazing flavours – every bite is such a treat to my palate. I have tried this dish in some fine Thai restaurants, and they are not nearly as good as Thai Express. It is a delicious dish and I don’t think you could find it anywhere else but here in Abu Dhabi.
Dhs34. Open daily, 10am-11.30pm. Thai Express, Al Wahda Mall, Food Court, Level 2, (02 443 7570).
Shona Macpherson, Discovery Sports
Gnocchi formaggi at Pappagallo
Pappagallo is a favourite of mine (and several friends) as it combines everything I look for in a meal out – it has a great atmosphere with very friendly and attentive staff, as well as an extensive menu choice. The dish itself is delicious and ticks every box. I love cheese so couldn’t ask for more in a four cheese dish. As it would be my last meal in the capital, I would start my day at Le Méridien beach and then enjoy my final meal at Pappagallo with great food, drinks and friends.
Dhs70. Open 12.30-3pm, 7pm-11pm. Pappagallo, Le Méridien Abu Dhabi, Tourist Club Area (02 644 6666).
Arabella Willing, CSR Director, Park Hyatt
Kunafa with cream at Saudi Cuisine VIP
When you eat here, there’s no doubt you’re in Arabia. When I sit on the floor in the Bedouin-style booths I recognise almost nothing on the menu (a good thing). At first, I had no idea what Kunafa was, but I was transfixed by the guy in the corner making it fresh from a little cart. The smell was amazing and the taste even better – warm, crunchy, creamy and sweet.
Dhs15. Noon-1am. Saudi Kitchen, Gava hotel (02 641 8488).
Seth Amoafo, founder of Proactive Sports
Chicken, fried bananas and beans at Chamas, InterContinental Hotel
I love Chamas’ fried bananas because they taste very much like the plantains I used to eat in my native Ghana. I love the Mexican-style beans and their chicken is succulent without being dry, and it’s spicy enough without burning my mouth. Not to mention the never-ending servings ensuring I’m all chickened out by the time the bill arrives.
Open daily 6pm-11.30pm. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (02 666 6888).
Rupal Bhatikar, blogger at www.foodienfabulous.com
Grilled Chilean sea bass at Koi Restaurant & Lounge
Being a picky seafood eater and Japanese food lover, Koi’s Chilean sea bass with a honey balsamic glaze, over a shiso-pea coulis is epic. It has everything right about it – the fish is cooked perfectly because it’s moist and flaky, perfectly seared with the glaze just adding enough tart punch to the creamy bite of the coulis.
Dhs176. Open daily 6.30pm-1am. Koi, The Collection, within The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort (02 678 3334).
Amira Rahim, Artist
Burger and fries at SALT
I know it seems a bit underwhelming having your last favorite meal in Abu Dhabi from a food truck. But I love that Salt uses top-quality beef for its delicious burgers. The taste is very clean but delicious – there is minimal grease leaking out of the bun. I doubt that I could get such a tasty burger and in a halal format back home in the US. Having everything halal in the UAE, such as these delicious burgers, makes my life easier. I would certainly miss it.
Dhs47. Open 1pm-2am daily. Salt, Mushrif Central Park, Mushrif, Find Salt on Instagram at @findsalt.
Alex Gomes, General Manager, Koi
Bun vit mang at Hanoi Naturally
Hanoi is a small neighbourhood-style Vietnamese restaurant and their noodle soups are absolutely delish! The ‘bun vit mang’ is an egg noodle soup bowl with sliced duck breast and bamboo bun. The noodles can be replaced for rice/rice vermicelli or glass noodles. The atmosphere is very casual and the prices are in the lower end of the spectrum. Their beverages are served with a liquorice flavoured tapioca, which takes a little getting used to, but after that they’re irreplaceable.
Dhs35. Open daily from noon–11pm. Hanoi, Khalifa Street (02 626 1112).
We say: The Time Out Abu Dhabi team's choices
Gosht Khada Masala at Ushna
I’ve been fortunate enough to eat at many of the city’s top restaurants, so choosing just one place to have my last meal would be incredibly difficult as I have so many favourites. But if I absolutely had to choose, I’d go with a curry from Ushna at the Souk Qaryat Al Beri. The restaurant serves my favourite mixed drink anywhere in the capital and the views across the Khor Al Maqta to the Grand Mosque are stunning. Every dish on the menu is fantastic so I’d want to try everything one last time, but my favourite dish of all is the gosht khada masala, a lamb curry cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger. I’ve not had a better curry anywhere else in the world.
Dhs90. Open Sat-Wed 12.30-11.15; Thur-Fri 12.30pm-11.45pm. Souk Qaryat Al Beri (02 558 1769).
Kate Dobinson, acting editor
Australian Blackmore Wagyu beef strip at BOA
This steak is as close to perfection as humanely possible. Trust me, it’s not empty hyperbole, but the cold, hard facts – or rather the wonderfully warm, mouth-watering tenderloin served at BOA. This steakhouse began life beachside in Santa Monica and bustling Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and its effortless glamour transfers easily to the Eastern Mangroves. It’s a special place with sublime service and food.
Dhs395. Open daily 12.30pm-1am. BOA steakhouse, Eastern Mangroves Promenade (02 641 1500).
Michelle Clements, art designer
Blowtorch dynamite roll at Catch
Nothing could prepare me for the astonishingly delicious blowtorch dynamite sushi at Catch. The deep fried salmon, pickled radish roll with creamy crab and tobiko and teriyaki is so moreish. It’s got exactly the right crunch and creamy topping, and it is like no other sushi I’ve ever tasted. Such a treat and I will keep going back to Catch because of it.
Dhs55. Open daily, Mon-Sun noon-midnight; upper terrace from 6pm-3am. Catch, the St. Regis Corniche, Al Khubeirah, www.catch.ae (02 611 0909).
Alison Rennie, TOAD Kids editor
Australian Angus fillet steak at The Meat Co at Souk Qaryat Al Beri
Discovering where to find a good steak is always a must, in any city. So far, nothing has topped the Australian Angus beef 150 day grain-fed fillet steak at The Meat Co. It may not look spectacular when it arrives in front of you, but the juicy taste of this fillet combined with some mashed potato, spinach and the mushroom sauce is yet to be beaten. When family or friends are in town, I always drag them here to experience the hefty menu choice and admire the pretty views of the Grand Mosque. If I had to have a final meal before leaving this city, you all know where to find me.
Dhs240. The Meat Co, Souk Qaryat Al Beri (02 558 1713).
Liz Totton, ating Out and Arts & Culture editor
Gobi Manchurian at Sangam Restaurant & Sweets
I eat out often. As a selective vegetarian and a lover of all things spicy, I seek out hole in the wall ethnic restaurants to discover innovative ways other cultures omit meat. Indian is my favourite, and Sangam Restaurant & Sweets is my go-to spot. I always order their Gobi Manchurian or Indian-Chinese fried cauliflower. Technically, it’s an adaptation of Chinese cooking seasoned to an Indian palate and it’s an explosion of flavour: salty, spicy, and crispy albeit a little fatty. Sangam Sweets has the power to convince even the most impassioned carnivore that meat need not be at the centre of every main.
Dhs12. Open daily 7am-11pm. Sangam Restaurant & Sweets, Behind National Drilling Company, Al Salaam Street, Al Nadja area (02 677 6773).
Matt English, sub editor
The ‘Houston’ burger at Johnny Rockets
The ‘Houston’ burger at Johnny Rockets is worthy of being my Abu Dhabi bucket list meal. Not only are the burgers typically American, packed with juicy patties and toppings, but the diner is a fun place to eat with its classic retro American diner décor. Launch your taste buds into this spicy burger featuring jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, iceberg lettuce, fresh tomato and Johnny Rocket’s secret spicy sauce. Combine that with a bowl of the quirky joint’s American fries topped with its exclusive, all-meat chilli, cheddar cheese and chopped onions, and ‘Houston, we have lift off’! If you’re feeling extra hungry, get a super-deluxe peanut butter shake or float and you’re on to a winner – your doctor won’t thank you, but you only live once, right?
Dhs39. Open noon-midnight. Johnny Rockets, Eastern Mangroves (02 563 5510).
Hamdan Bawazir, senior sales manager
Al Shater Hassan Restaurant
If I were to have my last meal in Abu Dhabi, I would have Mashawi – a mixed grill platter that comes with both chicken and mutton kebabs, chicken tikka and grilled mutton cubes – served with hummus, some garlic sauce and Arabic flat bread of course. On the side I would have a bowl of fattoush – salad with fried Lebanese bread on top – and to end the meal I would order the black mint tea which is traditionally used among Arabs after a heavy meal which helps with indigestion.
Dhs37. Open daily, noon-12.30pm. Al Shater Hassan Restaurant, near Habib Bank AG Zurich (02 641 6616).
You say: Time Out Abu Dhabi readers' choice
Wagyu pie, Stills
My favourite meal is the Wagyu pie at Stills bar. It was the very first meal I had on the day after we arrived here in Abu Dhabi. It is a rich beef pie with a pastry lid accompanied with creamy mash. Every time we visit Stills I have this pie and it never fails to disappoint.
Dhs100. Open daily 7.30pm-3am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island (02 656 3053).
Wagyu tenderloin, Blue Grill
My favourite is Wagyu tenderloin at Blue Grill. It was the best and most unforgettable meal that I’ve ever eaten in my entire life here in the capital. It costs Dhs325, which is a reasonable price for very delicious food and my taste buds thanked me afterwards.
Dhs325. Open daily 7pm-midnight. Yas Island Rotana (02 656 4000).
Sushi and sashimi, Toshi
My favourite meal is sushi and sashimi paired with house beverages and sparkling grape for Dhs189 at Toshi in the Grand Millennium Al Wadha. Me and my girlfriend both love sushi, that’s why it’s perfect for us – it’s unlimited sushi.
Dhs189. Open daily 7.30pm-10.30pm. Grand Millenium Al Wahda, Hazza Bin Zayed Street (02 443 9999).
Veal racks, Chamas
My favourite last meal would be the well-done succulent veal racks at Chamas in the InterContinental Hotel, finished off with the grilled pineapple. The combination may sound unusual, but the tangy meaty taste is divine. This has made me hungry – I’m off to Chamas.
Dhs315. Open daily 6pm-11.30pm. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (02 666 6888).
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