Dubai’s spice temples
Those who love a meal spiced to the nines will love Dubai. These four restaurants will satisfy even the most avid heat-seeking diner
Mint Leaf of London
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is awash with high-end, luxurious eateries where the city’s young and affluent spend their monthly bonus. At first sight, the stylish and sophisticated Mint Leaf of London, with its sleek interiors and stunning Burj Khalifa views, appears to be just another one of these haunts.
However, one taste of the authentic Indian cuisine immediately hits that misconception out of the park. Tandoori paneer or tikka with pepper and broccoli chutney; butterfly tiger prawn with chilli preserve or spicy tandoori duck with star anise are just a few of the stunning flavour combinations that make this place ideal for spice lovers.
We’re ordering: Murgh ke sulae – spiced, corn-fed chicken with Kashmiri chilli and blackened onions.
+971 4706 0900
With a name like Spice Emporium, it's no surprise to see that the Westin Dubai's Thai restaurant qualifies comfortably as one of the city's ‘hotspots’. While meat, poultry, and vegetable dishes are on the menu, the restaurant specialises in seafood, with spicy deep-fried cod and hot seafood soufflé packing a particularly potent punch.
And just as the fiery flavours transport the diner to Bangkok, the décor of the restaurant – tables of dark wood, evocative artwork and open kitchens where flames leap into the air – ensures that the authentic ambience of Thailand is carried through the whole experience.
We’re ordering: Pad ke mouw taley – wok-fried spicy seafood with Thai herbs, fresh green peppercorns and hot basil.
+971 3399 9144
There's a reason Northern Indian cuisine has spread to become popular throughout the world, and that is simply because the flavours work. One of Dubai's foremost purveyors of classic Northern Indian food is Amala, focusing wholeheartedly on doing what cooks in India have been doing for centuries: serving up tasty, flavourful and devilishly spicy dishes.
Of course, as one would expect from any restaurant in the grand surroundings of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (on the left crescent of the Palm Jumeriah), the exquisitely decorated venue – with marble floors and impressive mosaic-tiled pillars – is something befitting an Indian raj.
We’re ordering: Paya shorba soup – lamb shanks in broth with nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon.
+971 4453 0444
Following in the illustrious footsteps of the original Hakkasan in London – the first Chinese restaurant in Europe to be awarded a Michelin star – Hakkasan Dubai is known for serving modern Chinese cuisine at its very best. Jasmine tea-smoked dim sum and Chinese honey and Sanpei claypot chicken are just a few of the dishes that have wowed diners since the restaurant opened in November 2011.
The venue is everything a modern Chinese restaurant should be: classy and on trend, without losing the feeling of olden-days China by virtue of intricate wooden panels that separate the large dining space. It can't be long until the Michelin guide comes knocking with one of its coveted stars for this place.
We’re ordering: Spicy prawn served with lily bulb and almonds.
+971 4384 8484