Global cuisine in Abu Dhabi

34 global cuisines to try right here in Abu Dhabi Discuss this article

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A simple bowl of Italian pasta, drizzled with olive oil and tossed with fresh tomatoes and a little garlic. A hearty Mexican burrito with a dollop of guacamole, salsa and crispy nachos on the side. A steaming Vietnamese pho broth, with slurpy noodles and tender beef swirling around the bowl in front of your chopsticks.

Food, no matter where in the world you are, is one of the great pleasures of life. Celebrating the differences of other cultures and nations is a way to bring us closer together and in their kitchens is a great place to start. Even if you’re unable to visit a far-flung location, your taste buds can take a culinary journey without having to step outside the city limits.

Here in Abu Dhabi, the kitchens are a melting pot of world foods and flavours. Try out some dishes from around the globe and enjoy tastes new and old at these international eateries.


Despite making a great play of the California-style health food and laid-back atmosphere, Galleria restaurant Nolu’s has proud Afghan traditions running through its very core. A Qabili palau is an aromatic rice dish with lamb shank, raisins and carrots and it is the national dish of Afghanistan. There are also Afghan flatbreads, a yoghurt curry and a handful of kebab dishes to try as a good gateway to this interesting cuisine.
Open daily 9am-11pm. Nolu’s Downtown, The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (800 66587).


Should Elvis ever turn up alive and hungry, we’re expecting it to be somewhere like Johnny Rockets. The diner-style décor, complete with jukeboxes, dancing staff and vintage Americana set the scene for genuinely impressive burgers. Original, Route 66 and Melrose cheeseburgers are hefty lumps of American dining. As are the shakes, malts, fries and cheesecakes you’ll want on the side.
Open daily 11am-midnight. Johnny Rockets, Eastern Mangroves Promenade, Salam Street, (02 641 6731).


Laid-back café jones the grocer covers a lot of ground and can’t really be pigeon-holed into a single cuisine. It does, however, tick a few Aussie boxes. That means finding Australian beef steaks, burgers and a meaty cottage pie. The overall vibe is of modern Australia and a selection of cool and healthy international dishes are served up as well.
Open Fri-Sat, 9am-11pm; Sun-Thu, 8am-11pm. Jones the Grocer, Al Mamoura Building, Muroor Road, (02 443 8762).


On the outside, the plates served up at pub food specialist Cooper’s might look like stodge. But that would be to misunderstand the intricacies of English staples like fish and chips, massive meat pies, oversized burgers and buttery mashed potatoes and a carvery brunch with roast meats and all the trimmings. And it’s the only place we know of where you can buy certain foods by the metre.
Open daily noon-2.30am. Cooper’s, Park Rotana, Al Matar,, (02 657 3333).

Dhaka Star sits amid the warehouses, car showrooms and motoring businesses in Mussafah, a quiet part of town. It’s one of the most budget-conscious parts of the city and also home to the most authentic flavours of Bangladesh. Fish dishes are common and you will find a full fish, fried in spicy marinades, as well as regional biryani and mutton curries. There are breakfast dishes, too.
Open daily 4pm-1am. Dhaka Star, Next to Royal Grand Hypermarket, Mussafah (050 148 5303).

The Belgian Café is a good approximation of a Brussels-style tavern with a large variety of hops and European foods. Come here for hearty soups, oysters, mussels, chunky chips with mayonnaise, year-round sprouts, Belgian meatballs and, of course, waffles. As well as serving up some fine Belgian food, the atmosphere on the terrace is as near as you’ll find to a European city square in Abu Dhabi.
Open daily 4pm-1am. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Khor Al Bateen, (02 666 6888).


As the world’s fifth-largest country, one with a diverse geography and intriguing cultural mix, Brazil has a varied cuisine. It is the Brazilian concept of churrascaria that rules at Chamas in the InterContinental Abu Dhabi. As well as more than a dozen varieties of barbecued meat carved at your tableside by passadores, you can expect a carnival-like atmosphere and some lively South American music.
Daily 6pm-1.30am. Chamas, InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Khor Al Bateen, (02 666 6888).


The world-renowned restaurant brand Hakkasan has come to define contemporary Chinese food. Dishes like their stir-fry kung po roasted duck, charcoal-grilled king prawns in black pepper honey sauce, dim sum platters, wok-fry Alaskan King crab and the Sha Cha Chilean seabass bring a gourmet interpretation to traditional Chinese dishes.
Open Sat-Thu 6pm-midnight; Fri noon-4pm, 6pm-midnight. Hakkasan, Emirates Palace, West Corniche Road,, (02 690 7739).


It takes something of a scattergun approach to the dishes it serves, with Asian and fusion combos being as prominent as anything else, but Asia de Cuba does have some tastes from the Caribbean nation. Ropa vieja, for example, is a shredded beef stew with tomatoes, yet it is served here in a spring roll. Look out for black bean and plantain empanada or a Cuban frita — this Cuban-style burger comes with fried yuca for added Latino points.
Open daily. Noon-2am. Asia De Cuba, Nation Riviera, Al Khubeirah, (02 699 3333).


Bonna Annee is a former Time Out Abu Dhabi Restaurant Award winner (in the budget category, the money-conscious will be pleased to observe) and one of just a handful of Ethiopian eateries in the city. Dishes such as wat (a spicy meat stew) or tibs, (a sautéed vegetable and meat dish) are authentic, cheap and intriguing. Often eaten without cutlery and with a spicy kick. Good to visit if you’re in search of some new flavours.
Open daily 10am-midnight. Bonna Annee, behind Salam Street, Tourist Club Area (02 491 2128).


The king of gourmet cuisines? Regular visitors to Brasserie Angélique tend to think so. The classics of French food are served here with mountains of Gallic charm and sophistication. That means that while you are chomping on snails, frogs’ legs, quail eggs, duck and foie gras there will be a blissful look in your eye as you consider the possibility of whether it is worth actually bursting and ordering a roasted chicken with orange marmalade and clam sauce as well.
Open daily 7pm-late. Brasserie Angélique, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers (02 811 5555).

A taverna-style setting, charming ambience and plates piled high with Greek favourites make Acropolis a casual favourite. Given how much we love Greek food, there are fewer restaurants serving the cuisine in the city than we’d like. But when you have a hankering for refreshing tzatziki, authentic moussaka, stuffed vegetables, grilled seafood and, of course, some hefty gyros kebabs followed by rich honey-dripped desserts then come here.
Open daily 7-11pm. Acropolis, The Village Garden, Le Meridien Abu Dhabi (02 644 6666).


Abu Dhabi has no shortage of Indian restaurants and Avasa, in The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, is our favourite. The upscale location and high-end cuisine is not stiflingly expensive and they serve modern Indian food from various regions of the country, including a Pondicherry prawn curry, Lucknowi lamb boti, Alleppey fish curry, Chettinad aloo (potatoes with curry leaves) and a range of speciality breads and rices.
Open daily noon-11.30pm. Avasa, The Collection, St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort (02 674 2221).


It is a little rough around the edges, but if you want more Indonesian food than just the standard hotel nasi goreng, seek out Bandung. The budget eatery specialises in dishes from the world’s fourth-most populated nation. Scour the menu and you’ll see many new courses to try, with plenty accompanied by a spicy or peanut sauce. The national dish, rendang, a spicy, dry meat dish prepared with coconut milk, is obviously present as well.
Open daily 11am-11.30pm. Bandung, Opposite Mina Al Madina Supermarket, Tourist Club Area (02 645 2008).


Here is a little insider tip of the sort Time Out is happy to share: any time you are ever sad, stressed, or depressed, come and read the menu at Brauhaus. Words like Schwabischer Zweibelrosttbraten (roast potatoes and steak) and zigeunerschnitzel (breaded veal escalope) always tend to put a smile on our faces. Partly because of the accompanying dishes, but partly because it means we get to order kaiserschmarm (fluffy pancakes with raisins and apple compote) for afters.
Open daily noon-1am. Brauhaus, Beach Rotana, Tourist Club Area (02 304 8087).

We have no doubt whatsoever that there are vegetarians in Iran, we just wouldn’t recommend they come to feast at Sadaf, lest they leave hungry or, more likely, tempted. A dizzying array of grilled meat dishes, many of them skewered and served with mounds of aromatic rice, are the key players here. Iranian chefs know the importance of a good marinade and the pleasure of a simple grilled tomato and here you can try it for yourself.
Open daily noon-midnight. Sadaf, Al Murooj Hotel Building, Muroor Road, (02 641 4166).


The menu at McGettigan’s is largely an international affair but there are a few Irish touches that have given it worldwide recognition. Here you can get a filling Irish stew (slow braised lamb with carrots, potato, celery and onion), Irish-caught salmon with shallots and green beans, and their famous Irish fry-up that puts together a staggering nine breakfast ingredients on one plate, and comes with tea and toast on the side.
Open daily noon-2.30am. McGettigan’s, Al Raha Beach Hotel, Al Raha, (02 652 4333).


You're going to see some surprises on the menu at Cipriani Yas Island, including sushi, tempura and a variety of noodle dishes. Look instead at the fantastic Italian dishes here including spaghetti with sea bass, homemade potato gnocchi alla Bolognese, veal Milanese with rucola salad and cherry tomatoes, shrimp and zucchini risotto and a braised artichoke salad with a parmesan wafer. The tiramisu is also an important part of our life.
Open daily 6pm-midnight. Cipriani, Yas Marina, Yas Island, (02 657 5400).


When you’re Abu Dhabi’s best restaurant, every chef, restaurateur, diner, buyer, supplier and foodie looks very closely at what you’re doing. What Zuma does is make fantastic (mind-blowing, actually) Japanese food. Yes, that means sushi, but also try robata grills, tempura, miso-marinated wagyu beef and their excellent salt-grilled seabass with burnt tomato and ginger relish to fall deeper in love with high-end Japanese food.
Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-2am. Zuma, The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, (02 401 5900).


Authenticity jumps out of every part of Madang at the Al Ghazal Golf Club. That means you can regularly spy Korean expats and visitors chowing down on familiar foods to a soundtrack of K-Pop. Korean barbecue has become one of the great food trends of the last decade and can be experienced here. Look also for Korean fried chicken, spicy seafood broth and, of course, a bowl of Korean dining’s signature bibimbap.
Open daily noon-11pm. Madang Korean, Al Ghazal Golf Club, Masdar City, (02 575 8185).

One of the most plentiful cuisines in Abu Dhabi reaches its pinnacle at Byblos Sur Mer. The gigantic menu has just about every type of mezze and grilled meat you could care to name. But if you're feeling adventurous then char-grilled pigeon, pan-fried quails and octopus marinated with lime, garlic and coriander are among their signature dishes.
Open daily noon-2am. InterContinental Hotel, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street, Al Khubeirah, (02 666 6888).


If you ask us, and people frequently do, Barbacoa is the Best Budget restaurant in Abu Dhabi. There are swankier places for Mexican food, many of which delve deeper into the cuisine (we’re big fans of Loca), but for cheap and cheerful Mexican tacos, burritos and quesadillas, this Masdar City snack stop nails it. Try their signature slow-cooked shredded beef with ginger and soya.
Open daily noon-10pm. Barbacoa, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Masdar City, (02 304 8125).


Couscous and tagine make Moroccan food very different to any other and at Almaz by Momo you can try both. It is common to find fruit mixed in with rice and meat in Morocco and that gives it a sweetness with the savoury that is appealing. The marinades used in dishes give a distinctive flavour and we’re especially fond of the zaalouk, a simple dish of aubergine, tomatoes and onions, seasoned with Moroccan spices and coriander.
Open daily 10-1am. Almaz by Momo, The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 676 7702).

Budget food and another international cuisine to scratch from your checklist await if you step over the threshold of Nepal Palace. A thali and a drink will give you change from a Dhs20 note and that is after rice, dahl, tea and salad. The value is incredible, but it’s the momo dumplings you need to eat here. They’re a national favourite in Nepal and for just a few dirhams you can try some here with the option of beef, chicken or vegetables.
Open daily 10am-11.30pm. Nepal Palace, Electra Street, Al Markaziya (02 633 5010).

Masala House has cemented its place as one of the best Pakistani restaurants in the capital. The no-frills eatery is tucked away on Delma Street and frequented by Pakistani expats craving a taste of home. Their halwa-puri-channay consists of a hearty chickpea curry, fluffy puris and a sweet dish made of semolina – it’s what lazy weekend breakfasts are made of.
Open daily noon-11.30pm. Masala House, Delma Street, Al Wahda, (02 444 4211).

A couple of years ago the entire world became obsessed with Peruvian food and Abu Dhabi is no different. New restaurant COYA is going to make an enormous impact on the city’s dining scene. Ceviche (cured fish dish), tacos, tiraditos (a South American sashimi) and anticuchos (marinated meats on a skewer) are staples you must try while the Chilean sea bass, aji amarillo, is a fantastic dish.
Open Mon-Sat 12.30-5.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm. COYA, The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, (02 306 7000).

Rarely will you find an empty table at Ortego’s Deli at a meal time. The place is always buzzing with customers and with good reason. The soups are full of flavour and can easily be shared by two. The pick of the main course options are grilled tiger prawns marinated in lemon butter (served as a hanging tower) and their chicken peri peri. There are also veggie options and it’s easy on the purse strings.
Open daily 11am-11pm. Ortego’s Deli, opposite Emax, Hamdan Street, Al Markaziya, (02 677 0740).


The fact that menus at the Russian Kitchen House are printed in Russian should tell you about the authenticity of the food at this unobtrusive café in the Tourist Club Area. Soups have often been a staple in Russia and here you can try solyanka (a thick and spicy one), borscht (a distinctive vegetable stew), rassolnik (a pickled vegetable broth) and okroshka (a cold and milky soup).
Open Sat-Wed, 11am-11pm; Thu-Fri, 1-10pm. Russian Kitchen House, Hamdan Street, Al Markaziya (02 674 4342).


Bravo offers Spanish classics such as tapas, paella, tortila and churros. The adherence to classics means it has the bases covered when you have Spain on the brain and regular all-you-can-eat deals let you get your fill. The tapas plates include all manner of tomato-based dishes and Manchego cheese, grilled seafood and there are regional variations of rice and saffron dish, paella, to try.
Open daily. 6pm-12.30am. Bravo, Sheraton Hotel, Corniche Road, (02 677 3333).


Sontaya has the dual distinction of being both the best Thai restaurant in the city and also one of the most romantic. The name means ‘sunset’ in Thai and it is located on ‘Happiness Island’, but the food is the real star here. Curries of red, yellow and green are a traffic light of delights with distinct flavours while spiced salads have a fresh kick to them.
Open Sun-Thu 6.30pm-midnight, Fri-Sat, noon-4pm, 6.30-11pm. Sontaya, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island, (02 498 8888).


There’s a lot more to Turkish food than baklava and doner kebabs. And the glittering Petek is a great place to learn about the cuisine. The swanky restaurant stretches across two floors. Service is friendly and the staff love to put on a show. Order the salt covered lamb and you’ll know just what we mean – just take our advice and keep your eyebrows covered.
Open daily 8am-midnight. Petek, Rolex Tower, Near World Trade Center Souk, Al Markaziyah, (02 555 2000).


How there are not more Emirati restaurants is a constant source of bafflement, especially after dining at the unqualified success that is Mezlai in Emirates Palace. Not only is the Bedouin tent setting stunning, almost everything on the menu is authentic local food. We love the harees, which comes barley, veal and spices boiled over a low heat creating a creamy, porridge-like dish.
Open daily 1pm-10.30pm. Mezlai, Emirates Palace, Corniche Road, (02 690 7999).

You can find some of the main dishes popular across Russia and parts of Eastern Europe at Sayhoun, but it is known for the Uzbek dishes. Most famously that means plov. Order it here and, for just Dhs25, you will be rewarded with a large pile of rice and shredded meat mixed with carrots and onions. We also recommend trying out the stuffed cabbage, numerous soups and traditional pickles on offer.
Open daily 9am-midnight. Sayhoun Oriental Restaurant, Behind Al Mariah Cinema, Hamdan Street, Al Markaziya (02 674 7871).


While you’re more likely to find Chinese, Thai and Japanese representing Asian food, Hoi An attempts to redress that balance with dishes from Vietnam. Imaginative creations like a mango soup dessert, crab, citrus and chilli rolls are present. But, for an introduction to Vietnamese, try pho. The noodle soup comes packed with savoury ingredients, often vegetables, beef and spices.
Open daily 6pm-11.30pm. Hoi An, Shangri-La, Qaryat Al Beri, Khor Al Maqta, (02 509 8555).

By Will Milner and Vanessa Fitter
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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