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No Habibi, THESE are Dubai’s most loved dishes

Dubai’s most loved dish will divide people.

Culture, emotion and upbringing swaddle and inform our passions, and our love for food is no different. Notice how eyes widen when you peel the dough off a biryani or how hearts race at the thud of a mother’s mansaf hitting the family table. 

So imagine my surprise when I read that spicy tuna is Dubai’s most loved dish. My eyebrows furrowed. After all, Dubai loves a trend. Remember Greek restaurants marching across Dubai like Spartans. I hoped Dubai would be freed from its burgers, sliders and anything-crusted-in-Cheetos chokehold. (Or Lotus, don’t forget Lotus). Even my dog’s canned meat was A5 wagyu at one point.

So, spicy tuna. Dubai’s most loved dish? I had my doubts. So did you.

Dubai's most loved dish
Spicy Tuna Maki

Dubai social media answered the call. Some of you named specific places (hello, Hurricane Grill’s beef ribs and the goat’s cheese phyllo pie from the FACT Award-winning 21 grams). Most named an ingredient indifferent to the end result (looking at you ‘truffle on anything’, from Instagram). Many were particular, evoking vivid, often specific instructions (Chips Oman paratha with Kiri cheese and ONLY Crystal hot sauce, said Daniel on Twitter). Certain choices do not count (NB. dry ice is not a dish, but I see you and I hear you Dan on Instagram). Someone even named me as their favourite dish; my wife wants words with you.

Dubai's most loved dish
The goat’s cheese phyllo pie at 21grams

Without further adieu, these are ACTUALLY Dubai’s Most Loved Dishes.

The results speak volumes. Burrata and truffle did not come to play. Almost any menu I see sports one, if not both dishes. My Christmas brunch last month featured burrata. Nothing says holiday spirit like the traditional cutting of the Christmas burrata. 

Lindsay Trivers of The Tasting Class predicted the result noting “This town is burrata bonkers” but she favoured pani puri (me too, Lindsay, me too). 

fantastic things to do in Abu Dhabi
LPM Restaurant and Bar’s Burrata

Courtney Brandt, food writer, correctly predicted both the number one and three dish noting “while I might have my foodie card revoked for this, there is no denying the population of Dubai is crazy for burrata. I’ve spoken to several chefs and teams, and no matter how much they try and avoid this soft cheese, the people have spoken. However, away from fancy dairy, I’d make a case [for] shawarma.”

Omar Shihab, General Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer at the FACT Award-winning BOCA, wisely anticipated the burrata-shawarma divide, noting that burrata is probably the most-served dish in restaurants but Dubai’s most LOVED dish is the shawarma. Well played Omar. 

Dubai's most loved dish
Chips Oman Paratha

Michele Johnson, co-owner of the FACT Award-Winning Pitfire, agreed in part saying “As much as I’d love for it to be pizza, my guess is that it’s shawarma”. Michele would be right. Some on Twitter called it “Dubai’s National Dish”. Others online believe that award goes to Chips Oman Paratha. 

I’m proud that shawarma features prominently. In a city renowned for its boujee leanings, shawarma remains affordable and accessible. One Twitter follower shouted out Allo Beirut, Barbar and (my guilty pleasure) Automatic as some of her favourites. Dubai’s best shawarma? I see a new article in my future… 

Dubai's most loved dish
Automatic’s shawarma

Reif Othman, multiple FACT Award winner and 2022’s Chef of the Year, said “spicy tuna maki is popular in Japanese restaurants, which many people serve. But, a truffle dish is [for] everyone.” Reif’s right. There’s so much truffle in Dubai, you’d think it grows here. Many online agreed with him. From The Artisan’s black truffle pizza to special seasonal white truffle menus and, dare I say, the dreaded truffle oil on certain Parmesan fries. (Can we stop truffle oil, Dubai?)

Dubai's most loved dish
The truffle menu at Cinque

So now Dubai has spoken. From diners to chefs to restaurateurs and key opinion leaders: no habibi, Dubai’s most loved dish is NOT spicy tuna. It’s not even close. Peak Dubai is now a truffled burrata shawarma, and yes, I’m accepting invites for tastings. 

Dubai's most loved dish

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Liam Collens
Liam Collens is a reviewer and drone photographer based in Dubai. He is passionate about good food, restaurants, travel and drone photography.

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