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FACT Favourites: The best dishes we ate in May 2024

From Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates, these are the best dishes to sink your teeth into this month.

Restaurants come and go in the GCC, but FACT’s unwavering passion for dining remains unchanged. The team can be found across the region, sampling the good, the bad and the exceptional. We eat at every kind of restaurant and experience every type of meal, from flash-in-the-pan novelties to iconic institutions. To spare you the guesswork, here are the best dishes we ate in May.

Carabinero: Jara by Martín Berasategui 

Perched on the 18th floor of The Lana – Dorchester Collection, Jara by Martín Berasategui pioneers the introduction of Basque gastronomy in Dubai. Renowned for its jumbo size and striking bright red colour, it’s easy to see why the Carabinero (AED 295 per piece) has been blowing up our Instagram feeds. With a robust flavour that is more pronounced than other shrimp and langoustine varieties, Jara’s Carabinero is adorned with a buttery Hollandaise sauce containing a hint of lemon. For Dubai decadence, a generous dollop of caviar can be added. – David Tapley, Editor-in-Chief.

best dishes May

Caribbean Red Snapper: Soul Kitchen Dubai

True to its name, Soul Kitchen Dubai has been designed as a social space to feed the soul. This restaurant-bar concept is anchored in a food and drinks menu that fuses Levantine and Latin American flavours, accenting the culinary offerings with elements of alternative culture, art, and talent from the region. The Caribbean Red Snapper (AED 150) stole this Editor-in-Chief’s heart. Served upon a bed of sweet plantain pineapple purée alongside tomato and coconut sofrito, and fresh coconut pico de gallo, it’s a dish of competing sweet flavours that never overpower the delicate fish. It may have taken me eight months to visit, but it’s easy to see why Soul Kitchen is currently the talk of the town. – David Tapley, Editor-in-Chief.

Soul Kitchen Dubai

Escargot De Bourgogne: L’Ami Dave Riyadh

L’ami Dave has added some chic to Saudi Arabia. The French fine-dining restaurant pays homage to 19th-century Paris. The setting oozes old-school charm – we’re talking Art Deco touches, white tablecloths, and vintage pieces. Oh, and waiters in white dinner jackets. While the menu presents plenty of French finesse, don’t miss the Escargot De Bourgogne (SAR 125). Served with garlic butter, parsley, and lemon. Releasing the tasty gastropods from their shells can be a little tricky, but it’s oh-so worth it. – David Tapley, Editor-in-Chief.

L'Ami Dave

Fried Soft Shell Crab: Mott 32 Dubai

Perched on the 73rd floor of Address Beach Resort, Mott 32 stands out with its sky-high location and sultry east-meets-west atmosphere. Boasting stunning views, the must-try dishes here include the Signature Crispy Sugar-Coated Charcoal Lamb Buns, Fried Soft Shell Crab and the Mott 32 Signature Apple Wood Roasted Peking Duck, carved tableside. The Fried Soft Shell Crabm, which also makes an appearance on their brunch menu, is bursting with flavour. The fresh seafood, combined with top-quality ingredients and spices, takes this dish to the next level. There’s a reason this superb spot secured ‘Best Chinese Restaurant’ at the FACT Dining Awards Dubai 2023. – Shaheera Anwar, Staff Writer.

best dishes May

King Crab and Homemade Trenette Pasta: SAL Saadiyat

SAL Saadiyat is a sophisticated spot that draws inspiration from Capri, Mykonos, and Saint-Tropez. Bringing laidback luxury from Burj Al Arab to Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Diners can soak up the uninterrupted water views and dig into a Mediterranean-inspired menu. While the pool and beach are unrivalled, do not leave SAL Saadiyat without ordering the King Crab and Homemade Trenette Pasta. The dish utilises pesto made with cashews rather than pine nuts to coat the pasta strands. It’s a stunning plate topped with sweet, tender crab meat, tomatoes, and espelette chilli. – David Tapley, Editor-in-Chief.

best dishes May

Pizzeta with Tuna Carpaccio: TOTÓ Abu Dhabi 

Sport and food might not sound like a catchy combination, but it appears to have worked for footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and tennis superstar Rafael Nadal. The pair are behind the capital’s latest culinary concept, TOTÓ Abu Dhabi. The Italian menu combines traditional and creative dishes, so expect plenty of pasta, pizza, and meat and fish prepared in the wood-fired oven. The caviar-topped Pizzeta with Tuna Carpaccio (AED 160) presents an interplay of textures, with the crispy crust contrasting with the smooth and naturally sweet tuna. The generous dollops of caviar provide a touch of decadence that is not just for show, as the saltiness of the roe adds an additional flavour profile to the nuanced dish. – David Tapley, Editor-in-Chief.

best dishes May

Spiced Caramel Crusted Venison: Duangdy by Bo.Lan

Born from the brilliant minds of Bo Songvisava and Dylan Jones, Duangdy by Bo.Lan in The Link promises to enthral you with innovative Thai creations. What makes this culinary experience even more remarkable is their commitment to the ethical sourcing of ingredients and eco-conscious practices. While we’d been warned about the uncompromising spice levels, we adored the thin slithers of Spiced Caramel Crusted Venison (AED 120), which were gamey and rich, texturally tempting and topped with a fiery green mango and chilli dressing. – David Tapley, Editor-in-Chief.

best dishes May

TLT Sandwich: Rascals Deli

Are you craving a good sandwich? The undeniably cool Rascals Deli is the place to beat. They have an impressive selection of sandwiches, but my absolute favourite is the TLT. This turkey sandwich is as fresh as it gets and offers generous bites to really fill you up. It’s made with Hokkaido Milk Bread, which is as soft as a pillow, and cold turkey slices. The cheese, lettuce, and tomato add classic flavours, but it’s the basil mayo that really takes this sandwich to the next level. – Shaheera Anwar, Staff Writer.

best dishes May

Wagyu A5: Smoked Room Dubai

The culinary maestros behind Smoked Room Dubai and the FACT award-winning Ossiano collaborated on a spectacular Four Hands dinner. Chef Dani García and Chef Grégoire Berger merged their culinary prowess to create a menu that celebrated the natural elements of fire and water and highlighted signature dishes from both venues. While it wasn’t my first time trying the dish, the Wagyu A5 from Saroma is Smoked Room’s pièce de résistance. Beautifully grilled to ensure the fat in the meat offers a tempting texture, the delightfully tender cube of premium beef is embellished with 34-year-old soy sauce and fresh wasabi. – David Tapley, Editor-in-Chief.

Smoked Room Wagyu

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As editor-in-chief of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publication, David is a self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado, championing all things food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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