When it comes to its culinary scene, Abu Dhabi is definitely keeping pace with Dubai and other emirates in the country. UAE’s capital city is home to hundreds of restaurants that specialise in different cuisines and dining experiences. It is definitely a place where you can satisfy your craving for any kind of food be it savoury or sweet.
If you want to sample the best that Abu Dhabi has to offer, here are some of the most recommended dishes you have to try whether you’re just visiting, or looking for something new to sample on a weekend:
Start your culinary journey in Abu Dhabi by trying out the UAE’s national dish: machboos.
Machboos is a rice dish cooked with cardamom, cumin, saffron, onions, turmeric, loomi (dried lemon peel), and other flavourful and fragrant spices and herbs.
Slow-cooked meat (usually lamb, goat, or beef) or seafood is also added to the dish which is then very slowly cooked; this ensures the dish is infused with lots of flavour.
To savour authentic machboos, head to Al Mrzab in Al Mushrif, a restaurant that serves traditional Emirati dishes.
- Kobe-Style Filet Mignon Toban Yaki
If you want to indulge in something decadent, order the Kobe-style filet mignon at Koi restaurant in Abu Dhabi.
The steak is flavourful and melt-in-your-mouth tender. It is well-seasoned and wonderfully complemented with a great sauce. It also comes with a side of asparagus and mushroom which is excellent as well
This luxurious dish is served at Koi Abu Dhabi, a contemporary Japanese cuisine restaurant located at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort.
- Arroz Nikkei
Another decadent dish worth indulging in is Coya Abu Dhabi’s arroz Nikkei.
This rice dish showcases the intense flavours of Latin American. A fillet of marinated Chilean sea bass is served on top of silken rice cooked with chili and lime. When the dish is mixed, you will experience an explosion of flavours in your mouth.
Coya Abu Dhabi is located at The Galleria in Al Maryah Island.
- Beef Kofta
Abu Dhabi is also home to numerous restaurants serving authentic Turkish food. As such, if you’re hankering for beef kofta, you won’t be disappointed by the available options.
The Grill’s signature appetiser is made of beef marinated in Turkish spices. The beef is then minced, shaped, and grilled then set on top of tahini sauce. A pulse salad accompanies the whole dish.
The Grill can be found at the Marriott Hotel Al Forsan.
- Buffalo Wings
Although Buffalo wings are considered part of American cuisine, you will get the best wings at an Irish pub in Abu Dhabi.
McGettigan’s Buffalo wings are slathered in a spicy, tangy sauce. The meat is juicy and tender, and will go well with whatever beverage you order. Once you taste one wing, you will definitely want to eat more.
McGettigan’s is located at the Al Raha Beach Hotel & Resort.
- Octopus Salad
If you’re craving for something fresh yet filling, head to Café Milano and order their octopus salad.
The vegetables, fruits, and herbs served in the dish change based on the season. Whatever combination of produce you get, you will be sure they will work great with the well-seasoned grilled, tender octopus and olive purée.
Café Milano is one of the prominent restaurants at the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi.
To end your meal on a sweet note, order some luqaimat – the most popular traditional Emirati sweet dish.
Luqaimats are light and delicate fried dough balls drizzled with date syrup. These dough balls are extra flavourful due to the saffron and rosewater added to the dough.
These amazing sweet treats are best enjoyed at Al Fanar Restaurant & Café located at the Venetian Village at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi.
- Kit Kat Brownie
If you want something sweeter and chocolatier for dessert, head to the Waterlemon and order their signature dessert: the Kit Kat brownie.
The Kit Kat Brownie is made of six interlocking Kit Kat fingers between slabs of homemade 70 percent dark chocolate brownies.
This decadent chocolate treat is then topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and garnished with crushed and whole hazelnuts. Lastly, the dessert is drizzled with chocolate sauce and dusted with cocoa powder.
The Waterlemon can be found at the Al Bateen Wharf Retail and East Marina.
Although there are more amazing dishes foodies in Abu Dhabi should try, you won’t go wrong with putting the ones here on top of your list. These dishes are great to start you off on a fantastic culinary journey in Abu Dhabi.
Jenene Bronwin Batts is the Senior Marketing Coordinator at Tourism Development & Investment Company or TDIC. She oversees website maintenance, PR requests, marketing initiatives and all general guests’ enquiries for the company’s destinations, including KOI Restaurant & Lounge and Boa Steakhouse in Abu Dhabi.