25 healthy dishes to try in Abu Dhabi

25 delicious good-for-you dishes at restaurants in Abu Dhabi Discuss this article

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You’ve gotten past the holidays, when, if you did things right, you probably went through about a dozen cakes, steaks, puddings and pies. Now, you ideally need to chomp on some carrot and lettuce to compensate, but that can get a bit boring sometimes. So, we scoured the city, compiling the ultimate list of healthy dishes that are available in great Abu Dhabi restaurants and cafés.

Happy eating!

50% Off
You’ll find our cover star this month, the Nolu’s Salad (also pictured here), at the award-winning restaurant that gives it its name. This week, January 4-10, just take this magazine with you and, for every one, you’ll get 50 percent off on the dish. This signature salad includes a medley of fresh vegetables, heart of palm, flax seeds and sunflower seeds, all tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Don't mind if we do!
Open daily 9am-11pm. Nolu’s Downtown, Galleria Mall, Al Maryah Island (02 644 1516).

AçaÍ Arabesca at AçaÍXpress

Packed with antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids and amino acid, you won’t be sorry for digging through this treat. In addition to the mix of fruits that go into it, it also includes açaí berry – a fruit known for its superfood qualities. A few drops of orange blossom are added to the mix before it is finally topped with almonds and pomegranate seeds. Yummy goodness.
Dhs25 (small), Dhs35 (medium), Dhs45 (large). Open Sat-Wed 10am-11pm, Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Al Wahda Mall, Al Wahda (02 642 3855).

Beetroot salad at Al Fresco

You are bound to enjoy a healthy meal at this breezy, poolside restaurant. The colourful beetroot salad is fresh and a wholesome way to end your day. It’s only got a handful of ingredients, each healthier than the last. A mix of beetroots is plated alongside a few baby spinach leaves and orange segments, and an imaginative carrot-mustard dressing and honey-lime oil bring the salad together. A spoon of mixed green sprouts and feta cheese add a final flourish.
Dhs27. Open daily noon-5pm. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal (02 818 8282).

Chicken soup at Chez Charles

Chicken soup can be classified as comfort food that you don’t need to feel guilty about indulging in. While there are several versions to it, at its core, it remains a light, wholesome, unpretentious meal that could lift you up when you’re feeling down or under the weather. Delivery service Chez Charles serves a classic version. Torn shreds of chicken, chunks of carrot and leek, fresh parsley and whole spices make up this soulful bowl. Plus, some zingy pink peppercorns. A revelation.
Dhs70 (serves two). www.chezcharles.ae (no number).

Gambero mezzo Fritto at Roberto’s

A classically Italian dish, the modern kitchen at Roberto’s updates its version with a touch of pizzazz. It features plump, juicy red prawns from the Sicilian town of Mazara del Vallo, half fried and half raw. The chefs then drop some lip-smacking tamarind sauce on the plate, and a celeriac and yuzu gel are dotted around for flavour and garnish.
Dhs121. Open daily noon-1am. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 627 9009).

Granola parfait at Tawa Bakery

If you wake up craving something sweet, but need to avoid the pancakes, drive out to Al Raha for a healthy breakfast laden with fresh berries and mango. The seafront spot serves standard café fare and specialises in gluten-free food. The parfait is topped with a berry compote that provides a great contrast to the cinnamon granola. Talk about a perfect start to the day.
Dhs30. Open daily 8am-11pm. Al Muneera Beach Plaza, Al Muneera, Al Raha Beach (02 556 6900).

Grilled Chilean seabass At Zuma

The guys at award-winning restaurant Zuma have perfected the nuances of fresh Japanese cuisine. The grilled Chilean seabass is one of its finest examples. The fish is marinated in teriyaki sauce, lemon juice, chilli and garlic and cooked on the grill. It is served over a punchy sauce laced with green chilli, ginger, lemon and vinegar. A mixture of sliced daikon and cresses garnish the dish.
Dhs182. Sun-Thurs noon-3.30pm, Sat noon-3.30pm. Sat-Wed 7pm-midnight, Thu-Fri 7pm-1am. Sowwah Square, Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).

Heart of palm salad at The Foundry

Southern Sun’s steakhouse’s heart of palm and heirloom tomato salad certainly paints a pretty picture. The deconstructed salad packs in a whole plate of goodness, too. It’s got grilled baby aubergine, heirloom tomatoes, heart of palm and (just a little) fresh buratta. The salad is dressed with a basil dressing and a 12-year-old balsamic gel. Yum.
Dhs65. Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-11am. Southern Sun Abu Dhabi, Al Mina Street, Al Zahiya (02 818 4888).

King crab puri at Tamba

The Indian-inspired restaurant’s king crab puri is a modern, refined and classy take on the humble Indian street food that is pani puri. Crispy semolina puffs are filled generously with Alaskan crab meat and a piquant tamarind and mint gel. A wispy coriander and chilli foam sits on top of each mini bite and poses as the perfect topper.
Dhs78. Sun-Thu noon-1am, Fri-Sat noon-2am. The Hub, World Trade Centre Mall Abu Dhabi (02 672 8888).

La Niçoise at Brasserie Flo
Such is the versatility of the humble Niçoise salad that many over the years have put their own spin on the dish. The classically-trained chefs at Brasserie Flo, however, have stuck to the original recipe. Seasoned slices of fresh tuna are seared to lock in the fish’s natural flavour, and are served with potato, boiled eggs, green beans and anchovies to complete the dish. It’s great.
Dhs75. Open daily 12.30pm-11pm. Venetian Village at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal (02 404 1931).

Marinated tuna and wakame salad at jones the grocer

The gourmet food store’s menu is healthy and delightful. It only uses high-quality ingredients, which is evident in each dish. In this complex salad, marinated cubes of tuna are combined with jasmine tea-smoked tofu and wakame (a Japanese seaweed) and a toasted-garlic dressing that binds the ingredients together. The weirdly wonderful combination of flavours and textures is ideal as a starter.
Dhs64. Open daily 11.30am-10.30pm. Pearl Plaza Tower, Next to Oryx Hotel, Al Khalidiya (02 639 5883).

Mediterranean tart at La Brioche

La Brioche is hailed for its delicious pastries and fresh breakfast bakes, but step in for a midday meal and you’ll leave just as satisfied. This light, but hearty, meal will refuel you and keep you going through the rest of your busy day. A vegan tart is filled with roasted vegetables and a tomato sauce and the dish is accompanied by a wholesome lentil soup. The nourishing, nutrition-packed meal ensures it fills you up without leaving you stuffed.
Dhs42. Open daily 6am-midnight. Behind Premier Motors, 3rd Street, Al Khalidiyah (60 053 5359).

Miso and lime salmon at Giraffe

The family-friendly restaurant is known for its colourful décor, kid-friendly meals and fun atmosphere. But that’s not all. It’s even got a few healthy and tasty offerings. The pan-fried miso and lime salmon fillet sits on top of a mound of wasabi fried rice and teriyaki-glazed bok choy. Light, fresh, delicious and healthy, it ticks all the boxes when you’re counting calories but need energy.
Dhs73. Open Sat-Wed 9am-11pm, Thu-Fri 9am-midnight. Yas Mall, Yas Island (02 650 0711).

Murgh peeli mirch at Kareem

Indian food isn’t just about rich, aromatic curries and butter-stroked naans. If you dig a little deeper, you will find enough to keep you happy and healthy. These succulent chicken tikkas are a worthy candidate. The heat from the burning hot tandoor oven melts away any extra fat and locks in the chicken’s natural juices, keeping each bite moist and tender. The simple marinade also cuts out any chances of the dish going down the too-indulgent route. It requires just four ingredients: yellow chilli powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and mustard oil. The simplicity in its preparation keeps the dish flavourful and light.
Dhs35. Open daily 11am-11pm. Ramada Abu Dhabi Corniche, Mina Road, Al Zahiyah (02 418 2565).

Orata at Pappagallo
The Italian at Le Méridien is popular with diners in the city for its pizza and pasta offerings, but it’s got a lot more to its repertoire. The Orata is a sea bream that is steamed in its own juices and served in a crumpled foil cover. Other gems hidden in the wrap include clams, mussels and cherry tomatoes. Fresh Mediterranean herbs help draw out all natural flavours and give the dish a freshness.
Dhs110. Open Sun-Thu 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12.30pm-11pm. Le Méridien Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiyah (02 644 6666).

Pomodoro pesto leggera at Jazz@PizzaExpress’

Stop! Don’t give up on us just yet. This pizza is actually healthy. It features a light mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto Genovese on a ring of thin, crispy dough and is, of course, baked. Not convinced? We’re not finished. The pizza’s got a hole in the centre that’s filled with a fresh, dressed green salad that doesn’t make you feel so bad about ordering a pizza! If that’s not enough to convince you to order pizza this month, then we don’t know what is.
Dhs66. Open daily 11.30am-1am. The Hub at The Mall, World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi (02 444 7752).

Protein kick-starter at Café 28
Feeling a little sluggish just before lunch? Recharge with this simple plate of food at Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s Café 28. A grilled striploin is the main focus and it’s flanked by two fried eggs, a few green beans and a couple of wedges of roasted potato. You’ll be ready to tee off again once you’re done eating this.
Dhs67. Open Sat-Wed 6am-midnight, Thu-Fri 6am-1am. Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Khalifa City (02 558 8990).

Pumpkin and Shrimp Salad at whEAT

The cosy bistro is known for its healthy, hearty dishes. The low carb salad is fresh and light, perfect for a light lunch or as a starter. It’s got cubes of roasted, sweet pumpkin mixed with steamed shrimp. The bowl also includes pumpkin's seeds that lend the dish a crunch. The zesty kick from the herbed lemon vinaigrette marries perfectly with salty bites of cumbled fresh feta.
Dhs40. Open daily 7am-7pm. Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Street (02 674 2020).

Quinoa and beet salad at crust
Quinoa seems to be the grain of choice when it comes to healthy eating and it lends itself seamlessly to salads. This quinoa and beetroot salad has a whole host of ingredients to boost the healthy quotient. Antioxidant-packed blueberries feature along with cherry tomatoes, spring onions and goat’s cheese. A fragrant coriander dressing made with jalapeños, honey, ginger and garlic is drizzled over the dish before serving. It’s moreish.
Dhs60. Open daily 6.30am-11am, noon-4pm. Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 333 2222).

Seared seabream at Market Kitchen
This sumptuous main from Market Kitchen keeps its preparation simple, thus cutting out any chances of extra calories. The lightly seared sea bream sits on a bed of braised fennel, tomatoes and olives. A lemon and olive oil dressing is spooned around at the bottom, around the fish, and that’s it! Simples.
Dhs95. Open Sat-Wed noon-11.30pm, Thu-Fri noon-midnight. Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Street (02 674 2020).

Sports wrap at Stars ’n’ Bars

If you thought pub grub had to be deep-fried, crunchy and greasy, think again. The hip sports bar on Marina Island does delicious food and its Sports Wrap proves that dishes from your local can indeed be healthy. An all-vegetarian filling of balsamic-glazed Portobello mushrooms, red bell peppers and Swiss cheese are rolled inside a tortilla, fortified with spinach. We reckon Popeye would love a couple of these.
Dhs60. Open Wed-Sat 11.30am-3.30am, Sun-Tues 11.30am-2am. Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 565 0101).

Superfood salad at Café Bateel

Café Bateel is known for its sweet creations and Arabian hospitality. But its salads are just as pleasing. Take this superfood salad (you knew it was only a matter of time before we featured one of these, didn’t you?). It is packed with slow-cooked quinoa, lentils, beetroot, butternut squash, baby spinach, kale, mixed seeds and an avocado dressing. And you have the option of adding chicken or halloumi to your wholesome bowl, although it’s pretty filling without any add-ons.
From Dhs68. Open Sun-Wed 8am-midnight, Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 671 2284).

Superfood salad at easy Bites

The feel-good bowl is a healthy offering of organic quinoa, cucumber, broccoli, avocado, and alfalfa sprouts. Torn leaves of mint and parsley add fresh flavour along with pomegranate seeds. A handful of sunflower seeds, crumbly feta and a drizzling of extra virgin and lemon oil dressing finish it.
Dhs34. Open daily 9am-10pm. Behind Suzuki Showroom, Al Salam Street, Al Najda (02 644 8440).

Three egg omelette at Circle Café

Looking for a protein boost in the morning? Swap that shake for this wholesome plate. This slow-cooked egg omelette is filled with goat’s cheese and caramelised onion and is served with a roasted tomato salad on the side. You also get either sourdough or a bagel.
Dhs40. Open Sun-Thu 8am-11pm, Fri-Sat 9am-11pm. Al Raha Gardens Plaza, Khalifa City A (02 556 1550).

Tuna ceviche at BU!

If there’s one thing the team at BU! can be counted on for, it’s delivering mouth-watering bowls of ceviche. We’re big fans of the classic Peruvian dish and, in particular, BU!’s tuna rendition. Lifted from the raw bar section of the menu, the fresh tuna in this dish is cured in a lime, orange, green aji and sesame oil dressing. The result is a fresh, zesty number that is full of character and flavour.
Dhs85. Open Sun-Wed noon-3pm, 7.30pm-1am, Thu noon-3pm, 7.30pm-1am, Sat noon-3am, 7.30-2am. The Hub, World Trade Centre Mall Abu Dhabi (02 666 8066).

Tuna tartare at Todd English’s Olives

Celebrity chef Todd English’s charming restaurant is recognised for a tasty menu and faultless service. A meal here is always a pleasure, just like the tuna tartare. Diced chunks of top-quality yellowfin tuna are served with orange-glazed shrimp and a ginger-sesame dressing. Thin shavings of cucumber wrap the lower half of a dish that is garnished with whitefish caviar. Lovely.
Dhs70. Sun-Thu 12.30pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 9am-11pm. Venetian Village at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal (02 404 1940).

By Vanessa Fitter
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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