Top Michelin Star Restaurants in Dubai
The Dubai MICHELIN Edition
The Michelin Collection.
The Dubai MICHELIN Guide landed last week awarding restaurants with two MICHELIN stars, one MICHELIN star, bibs & more. Here's my thoughts.
PART I: Check out those restaurants I've reviewed that earned Michelin accolades this week. PART II: check out a summary of my reflections and views now the awards are out.
Written by Liam Collens // See other reviews here.
The Dubai MICHELIN solidifies Dubai as a global culinary destination
A good mix of awards from 2 stars to recommendations
My personal view is that some places are really overlooked; some rated curiously high (but isn't this normal?)
Unconvinced that some Bibs are actually VFM
One Michelin Star Restaurants
11 Woodfire builds on a growing global trend. A return to open-flame, woodfire cooking. Well-known and locally-loved Chef Akmal launches 11 Woodfire which, in many ways, is his most complete restaurant that I’ve dined in so far. 11 Woodfire’s crackling woodfire kitchen punches out delicious results: the Kashmiri sea bass, a wagyu beef burger with mushroom duxelles, gouda and sriracha (make sure you get the chiselled fries) as well as the notable sour fruits dessert. It is also an unlicensed restaurant demonstrating that complex wine lists make for awards. Still, 11 Woodfire is notably inconsistent between my multiple visits, which is surprising given that consistency is one of the key metrics by which Michelin judges and awards restaurants. Also, despite recent (welcomed) pricing adjustments, the pricing still stands out.
You can read a full review about 11 Woodfire here.11 Woodfire, Villa 11 75B Street, Jumeirah, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel. +97144919000. 11 Woodfire’s Website
Ossiano’s seafood degustation menu seriously impresses; stretching beyond its Atlantis cohorts. Ossiano’s latest menus – together with some outstanding collaborations – solidifies Gregoire as one of Dubai’s best chefs. Ossiano’s service is superb, some of the best in Dubai. The tasting menu evolves throughout the year with changes to match the seasons from Gregoire’s native France. You can expect luxury any time of year: caviar, langoustine, turbot and more. Ingredients are a key Michelin criterion. There’s plenty of technical ability on show here (another Michelin criteria tick). Frankly, I expected two stars for Ossiano (see more below). Sommelier Danijela Tesic also won the coveted Sommelier Award and I am not surprised why. Ossiano’s service team are superb, some of the best in Dubai in my view. As you may anticipate, Ossiano is not a cheap evening so just bring your expense account.
You can read a full review about Ossiano here.Ossiano, Atlantis Dubai, The Crescent, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel. +971 4 426 2626. Ossiano website.
Tresind Studio quickly rose as one of Dubai’s best restaurants constantly innovating and elevating fine dining in the city. It’s international reputation grew with Chef Himanshu’s voice and perspective on contemporary Indian fine dining. The awards followed: World’s 50 Best Restaurants, MENA 50 Best Restaurants, Gault Millau toupes, and FACT Magazine Restaurant of the Year. Vipin Panwar and the team won the Art of Hospitality Award at the inaugural MENA’s 50 Best There was no surprise that Tresind Studio won a Michelin Star (perhaps a little surprising that it did not win two? See below). Tresind Studio’s tasting menu evolves over time. Standout dishes start with their consistently strong chaat courses like the pani puri and shisho leaf (NB consistency). A crisp, sharp blossom chaat that’s a feast for the eyes. Main course highlights like the scarpetta and charred lobster tail with corn curry – all showcasing technical ability – keep us coming back. Tresind Studio remains one of my most recommended restaurants in Dubai and I cannot wait to see where this team will go and take fine dining into the future.
You can read a full review about Tresind Studio here. Tresind Studio, Nakheel Mall Rooftop East, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel. 0588951272. Tresind Studio website.
One Green Michelin Star Restaurants
Lowe Dubai churns out reliably delicious, flavour-packed dishes worked over fire. Inching outside Dubai’s city gates, it’s worth the journey for the simplicity and focus behind Lowe’s dishes. You cannot come here without tearing through the duvet-soft wood-fired sesame bread with burnt aubergine dip (among others). The menu changes frequently adding to the mysticism of what you’ll get this time. A restrained, nearly industrial decor coupled with knowing service leads you towards focusing on the food. There’s a lot to love at Lowe, but you could start with its reasonably-priced wine list.
You can read a full review about Lowe here.Lowe Dubai: KOA Canvas, Legends, Al Barari, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel: +97143201890. Lowe’s Website.
Michelin’s Bib Gourmand’s Restaurants
Brasserie Boulud is the Dubai export from chef Daniel Boulud based in the frankly perplexing Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk. You see the Bib Gourmand award unfold especially during their business lunch offering. Brasserie Boulud serves award-winning French classics such as steak tartare, confit duck, steak frites and salade nicoise. Wine by carafe is available, something rare in Dubai. The decor feels a little ‘corporate’ and the location near Healthcare City means I rarely come here. However, you will be hard-pressed to find French food executed this well and this price point elsewhere in Dubai. There are definitely lesser capable French restaurants charging higher prices. You know the ones.
You can read a full review about Brasserie Boulud here.Brasserie Boulud, Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk Wafi, Sheikh Rashid Rd, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel. 042814020. Brasserie Boulud website.
Bait Maryam’s homely Arabic-Levantine cooking layers generous portions with affordable prices garnering Michelin Guide bib gourmand awards. It has a rustic feel sitting feet away from a car park in the residential, high-rise Jumeirah Lake Towers. Chef and owner Salam Dakkak (who named Bait Maryam after her mother) is quiet and unassuming even after Bait Maryam scored big at Dubai’s inaugural Michelin Guide taking home both a Bib Gourmand and The Welcome and Service Award. The best value choices lie in the dishes of the day such as a warmly spiced chicken freekeh or the gusty, meltingly-soft knot of lamb neck. The standout a la carte dishes are Bait Maryam’s house-style fattoush salad spiked with sumac and pomegranate molasses and their chicken sumac fatet muskhan. Cheap and cheerful is the name of the game, but discerning eaters may prefer other options.
You can read a full review about Bait Maryam here.Bait Maryam, Cluster D, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel. 042418447.
Fi’lia landed and a following ensued quickly. Casual Italian dining on a nose-bleed high floor overlooking Dubai’s iconic Downtown and Business Bay skyline from a brand new perspective inside a popular hotel, SLS Dubai. The all-female kitchen marketing campaign churned followed by Chef Sara Aqbal’s compelling story and ascension as Fi’lia’s global Executive Chef. The menu is pan-Italian not focusing on one particular region but, instead, reads as list of greatest hits: lasagna, cacio e pepe, calamari fritti etc. Comes for views, selfies and the price point, but those looking for a clearer voice on Italian food may look elsewhere.
You can read a full review about Fi’lia here.Fi’lia, Level 70, SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences, Marasi Drive, Business Bay, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel: 046070737. Fi’lia SLS Dubai website.
Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori
Another Michelin Guide entry from chef Akmal where, this time, he focuses on aspects of Japanese cuisine. Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori lies inside Galleria Mall in Jumeirah serving bites (maki rolls, nigiri), light dishes like the raw scallop sashimi with pickled cucumber, crumbled nori and sea salt or more hearty bowls like the spicy prawn noodles with egg and coriander. The restaurant joins an already crowded dining scene seemingly insatiable for Japanese cuisine.
You can read a full review about Goldfish Sushi and Yakitori here.Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori, Galleria Mall, 403 Al Wasl Rd, Al Wasl, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. +97148864966. Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori’s website.
Kinoya delivers comfortable, casual Japanese izakaya dining pushing a Dubai supper club favourite into the big leagues. Chef Neha earned near-celebrity status in Dubai through her much-loved supper club over the years. Kinoya offers Dubai casual dining at more affordable prices (hence the Bib Gourmand award). Supple miso aubergine with bonito flakes, seared scalloped with burnt brown butter and mushrooms as well as the infamous ramen options bring people back to Kinoya.
You can read a full review about Kinoya here in FACT Magazine and here on EatGoSee. Kinoya, Floor P2, The Onyx Tower 2, The Greens, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel. 045486776. Kinoya’s website.
Ninive dresses to impress with its lush foliage, skyscraper views and Bedouin touches with tent-like touches throughout. A licensed Middle Eastern and North African restaurant that, honestly, surprised me on the bib gourmand list only because of the price point. I like Ninve. I bring guests or work colleagues here a few times a year – especially if they come to Dubai for the first time. Meaty tajines sit alongside vegetarian-friendly roasted pumpkin with spiced tomato jam and raisins. It’s deliciously sticky, lacquered and spiced. Another delicious vegetarian dish in Dubai is delivered to satisfy the most ardent carnivore. Come to Ninive, expect a good time, be impressed with the long pour of mint tea. Relax into a shisha. But, hope someone else is paying the bill.
You can read a full review about Ninive here. Ninive, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, +97143266105. Ninive’s website.
Orfali Bros is a compelling story of triumph for three brothers inhabiting a small space garnering local, regional and international acclaim. Come and eat for yourself. A contemporary outlook for Middle Eastern food leaning on their Syrian origins with Turkish and wider world inspirations. Corn bombs, pides, celeriac croquettes and Come to Aleppo stand out. Make sure to save room for desserts. Yes, plural. You can’t help but feel Orfali Bros will outgrow this space quickly. The menu continues to innovate with new dishes being added recently. Reservations are highly recommended.
Read more about Orfali Bros, Dubai here.Orfali Bros, D94, Wasl 51, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel. 042592477. Orfali Bros website.
REIF Japanese Kushiyaki
Reif Othman can be credited for the rise of Japanese and Asian dining in Dubai; but few (if any) capture lightning in a bottle as well as the master. Reif Japanese Kushiyaki remains in my top five best restaurant recommendations to anyone visiting Dubai. You will find me here (or in one of his restaurants) almost every month. There is an ease to his food and the restaurant’s service that betrays the presumptions of Michelin Guides and 50 Best Lists. Still, joy in abundance is found whether its in mushroom rice clay pots or wagyu sandos. His seasonal omakase menu, The Experience by Reif Othman, is also hosted here as an intimate chef’s table.
You can read more about Reif Japanese Kushiyaki, Dubai here.Reif Japanese Kushiyaki, Dar Wasl Mall, Al Wasl Road, Al Wasl, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Reif Japanese Kushiyaki website.
Teible quietly built a following in Dubai leveraging Chef Carlos’s eco-focused, farm-to-table vision to use UAE ingredients as much as possible. A seasonal menu from local UAE farmers. Already on its third season, Teible innovates with both a casual a la carte menu and a tasting menu in the evenings. The location is a little isolated so you need to make a journey to the serene Jameel Arts Centre but, once you are there, you are in for a treat. Marina water views and tranquil decor bring a sense of zen allowing the food to speak for itself. Kohlrabi and sweet potato salad in a tomato pepper sauce, near raw prawns with paratha and roasted peppers, a bright garum tartare and the small but mighty garum burger with depths of flavour. It’s casual and unsupposing. Watch Teible, I think this one is going places.
You can read a full review about Teible here.Teible Restaurant Jameel Arts Center, Ground Floor Jaddaf Waterfront, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, +971042436683. Teibe’s website.
Michelin’s Recommended Restaurants
3 fils is a Dubai staple favourite restaurant facing Jumeirah Fishing Village with long lines snaking out the door. Personally, I find 3 fils distinctly average, living on a legacy it no longer sustains and certainly surpassed by superior market newcomers (such as those below).
Read more about 3 fils, Dubai here.3 fils, Shop 02, Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, 1 Al Urouba St, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. +97143334003. 3 fils’ Website.
Avatara eeks out of Tresind Studio’s shadow to feed Dubai a growing global trend: a vegetarian fine-dining tasting menu. A promising first menu by chef Rahul Rana. Avatara stands out in Dubai with it’s unique offering, capably prepared dishes and concept.
Read more about Avatara Restaurant here.Avatara, Second Floor, Voco Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. +971581432867. Avatara Restaurant’s Website
CE LA VI
CE LA VI is the land of the beautiful: beautiful people, beautiful restaurant, beautiful views (some of Dubai’s best views in fact), beautiful-looking food and a favourite for some scenes in recent popular TV shows about Dubai. I find the brunch to be much better than expected and above what you’d expect vs its peers. That said, various dinings have been inconsistent but improving more recently.
Read more about CE LA VI here.CE LA VI, Tower 2, Level 54, Address Sky View Hotel, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. +971565154001 . CE LA VI’s Website
Hutong opened just before the world plunged into a pandemic bringing one of the world’s most popular Chinese high-end chains to the Middle East in monied DIFC. The dining room is atmospheric and the food turned out very much with an Instagram-ready presentation in mind. I am a little surprised to find Hutong Dubai on this list but I do note this is a recommendation only.
Read more about Hutong Dubai here.Hutong, Ground Floor, Legatum Plaza, Gate Building 6, DIFC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. +97142200868. Hutong Dubai’s Website
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Would any Michelin list be complete without at least one Robuchon entry? This listing was not surprising only because of the association between the two brands. Dubai’s outpost of L’Atelier du Joel Robuchon is high-octane with signature black and red everywhere. Some dishes stand out but overall it feels more style over substance for a crowd that like being seen in spaces.
Read more about L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon here.L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Gate Village 11 / Podium Level, Al Boursa, DIFC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. +97142977729. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Website
MASTI Cocktails & Cuisine
MASTI Cocktails & Cuisine is mostly known as one of the two licensed spots on the La Mer development. Michelin may focus on the food but you are well advised to focus on the drinks menu. MASTI means mixology and, on Mondays, a Gin and Jazz night that’s worth coming for if you’re a fan of live music.
Read more about MASTI Cocktails & Cuisine here.MASTI Cocktails & Cuisine, South La Mer, Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel. +97180062784. MASTI Cocktails & Cuisine Website
Mimi Kakushi seemingly came out of nowhere. The lovechild of the La Cantine Group guided by the hand of Reif Othman (above) brought forth this very successful venture that earned attention, awards and long reservation lists almost instantly. Asian-inspired dining with stand-out dishes like the wagyu foie gras gyozas, braised short rib and kagoshima wagyu maki rolls. Mimi Kakushi’s eye-catching design and an award-winning cocktail list means Mimi Kakushi ticks boxes like a professional all-rounder. Corporate entertainment, girls’ nights, boys’ nights, good times chasers.
Read more about Mimi Kakushi here.Mimi Kakushi, Four Seasons Dubai Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah 2, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel. +97143794811. Mimi Kakushi’s Website
Sucre Dubai lands after many successful years in Buenos Aires and a much-lauded expansion into London just prior to the Dubai launch. An atmospheric space with a vast wine list and a kitchen focusing on open woodfire Latin American cooking. With a lot of familiar concepts in DIFC, Sucre stands out a little but delivers on the vibey mood that DIFC loves to provide discerning diners. I found the food very consistent across multiple dinings. The business lunch should also not be overlooked.
Read more about Sucre Dubai here.Sucre Dubai, Podium Level, Gate Village 05, DIFC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel. +97143400829. Sucre Dubai’s Website
PART II: My Take on the 2022 Dubai Michelin Guide?
What A Day It Was.
I watched the awards online, like many. Since the announcements, the food community celebrated and commiserated; there were hot takes, conclusions and speculation, but never a moment dry of opinions. See Courtney Brandt’s good reflective sum up here, FooDiva ran the numbers with comments galore.
A day of emotions. Some palpable disappointments were visible on stage (you know who). The ‘heart-wrenching moment award’ is a tussle: the embrace between chef Akmal and his wife Inez when 11 Woodfire* earned its first Michelin star. The other – and my favourite – chef Salam Dakkak at Bait Maryam who, without words, captured that unspeakable joy of being acknowledged for a lifetime’s work.
The hours, the sacrifice, the toil of the last five years on an industry ravaged by slowing economies, the small matter of a global pandemic, constant changes in regulations, the double-edged sword of aggregate delivery services (you know who) and – dare I say – the unhelpful and, at times, parasitic whims of disingenuous food influencers. I don’t consider myself an ‘influencer’ and, even if I did, this doesn’t prohibit me from judging my own kind. #ISaidWhatISaid
Overall. The Dubai Michelin Guide landed well IMHO. Some places featured higher than expected; others a bit snubbed. But these things never go as expected AND it could have been a lot worse. Let’s just bathe in the afterglow of Dubai sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best culinary destinations where one of the world’s most coveted awards reconfirms the city possesses some world-class talent.
The First Word of Warning: Restaurant Owners. In my work life I often tell newly promoted team members that what got them here is not necessarily what will take them forwards. It may also not be enough to keep them where they are. So my message to newly starred restaurants is that you are playing in a different ballpark now. Being the dreamy, local high school hunk is not the same as being a world-class supermodel. Whether your Stars will be platforms for success or an albatross pinning you down under the crushing weight of expectation is down to you. There are some 1*s where, I dunno. I sense generosity. Stay sharp, take feedback, focus on repeat customers, watch your prices.
The Second Word of Warning: PRs and Marketing. I am already seeing some eye-rolling behaviour. A few ‘first’ adjectives: the awards were named in alphabetical order, not in “most coveted” descending order. If your name was called first, it’s because it started with a number or an A. It does not make you the first (and impliedly best) bib gourmand, recommended or starred restaurant. You should know better. Second, it’s restaurants that win the Star, not the chef. There is no such thing as a Michelin-starred chef. There never has. If the chef leaves, the restaurant keeps the star (until the next guide perhaps). Stop misleading people.
Between each tiering, restaurants are (more or less) correctly placed relative to each other. You may think I’m splitting hairs here. But, broadly, the restaurants look about right relative to each other. Broadly, the starred restaurants are stronger than the recommendations, the Bibs are mostly correctly allocated (but I could name one shocker of a placing). It more or less makes sense.
WITHIN each tiering, there are some STANDOUT question marks IMHO. Spoiler alert: I am not a Michelin inspector. So I am looking at this as a seasoned global traveller (a bon vivant if you will) with experience and expectations of what a 1*, 2* and bib gourmand restaurant mean. To that end, let me talk about my leading disappointments (without trashing people, but boy could I):
IN THE STARS...
I have not dined at all the 1* / 2** restaurants in Dubai, but I am excited to check out the remaining ones!
IN THE GREEN STARS…
BOCA, I wanted it for the team. I see the passion, desire and thought leadership from Omar Shihab more than anyone in Dubai. Omar does what Steve Jobs used to call moving the puck to where it is going to be, and not where it has been. He’s emblematic of the sustainability movement in Dubai and, one day, statues will be built for him.
To be clear, Lowe – winner of the only Green Star in Dubai – is one of my favourite Dubai restaurants. It should not be an either-or decision. Both Lowe and BOCA deserve acclaim.
IN THE BIBS…
21 grams should be there. 21 grams churns good food at moderate prices more so than many restaurants in Dubai. Again, REIF, Orfali and others deserve their awards. They just deserve Stasha and her phenomenal team as company.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Well, the usual cut and thrust of who will be on the list next year, who will lose a star, gain a star: the predictable drama.
However, the conversation I would like to have is about what we can do to better promote and highlight homegrown talent in Dubai? The guide is VERY well represented by international imports, but local talent feels a little thinner on the ground. The discussion we should have now is: should we aim for equality or equity between the weighting of international restaurants vs homegrown? What are the barriers to entry for homegrown talents to go up the rankings? Do local restaurants even want Michelin accolades? What would it take to support/enable homegrown talent further? Who has to do what? I’m very interested in THAT discussion.