The food in the UAE is incredibly good – you have the best chefs and ingredients from all over the world available to you, and the choice and variety is just astonishing.
Ras Al Khaimah has some really fantastic restaurants spanning a wide range of cuisines. As is the way in the UAE, they’re all based in hotels. Here are my top 5 restaurants in Ras Al Khaimah, plus some top tips for local food shopping, be it for some regional specialities to take home, or sampling the best local produce.
Where to eat
Emiratis have really adopted Lebanese cuisine as their own, and it is widely enjoyed throughout the country. Marjan is quite easily the very best Lebanese restaurant I’ve ever visited. Chef Mounir creates the most vibrant flavours, and everything on the menu here is so fresh, exciting and delicious. The dining room is also incredibly stylish and elegant, filled with plenty of quiet, private corners in which to dine. Start with the cold mezze, and the saffron hummus is unmissable. The fattoush was fantastic, and made without bread, and the tabouleh was superb with a delicious sweet and sour tang from pomegranate molasses. The hot mezze are excellent, too. The rakakat, a cheese filled pastry, were sublime. Must-try dishes are also the lamb meatballs with a tangy cherry sauce and the labneh bin awarma, which is labneh topped with confit lamb with some mint, garlic and pine nuts. Excellent mains include the shish taouk, which is grilled chicken with garlic sauce, and the camel kebab with saffron rice. Cocktails and juices here are excellent, too. Service is slick and professional. A real find.
Pura Vida is an excellent Brazilian restaurant situated at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa. Its signature dish is its churrasco grill, featuring an incredible range of cuts of meat, including five cuts of beef, lamb and chicken with a range of typical sides, such as mashed potato, black beans and plantain. Seating is mostly outside, where you can sit and look out across the ocean and watch your meat being grilled while you wait. On weekend nights, you’ll find live music on the terrace, too. Service at Pura Vida is one of its strongest points, and we were really well looked after. I’d recommend sticking to the churrasco, which I think is the strongest offering on the menu.
Basilico restaurant at the Cove Rotana is a lovely place to sit and have lunch and look to sea. The resort is very attractive and sat right on the water’s edge. The menu is large and features a really wide range of meat, fish and vegetable dishes from all over the Mediterranean. Food allergies are well looked after, and we appreciated the extra effort the management went to in order to assist us in this respect. To start, we tried the buffalo mozzarella and beef tomato tartare, which was a really flavoursome. The beef tomato was hollowed out and filled with chopped tomato and black olive tapenade, which was superb. For the main course, we enjoyed the excellent steak, which was cooked and seasoned, to perfection and the baked salmon with fennel, caviar velouté and wild rice, which was generously portioned and nicely cooked. Service is attentive but leisurely. A great spot for both day and night time.
Steak is practically the national dish in the UAE: they just love it. Lexington Grill is a super glamorous New York style steakhouse at the Waldorf Astoria. The dining room is absolutely gorgeously decorated with wood paneled walls and a red marbled floor, and sets the scene for a grown-up, sophisticated evening.
We settled ourselves in and made ourselves comfortable, and before we knew it, a trolley wheeled over, offering us our choice of champagne cocktail. So far so good. Starters are a mix of American and French classics, and provide a light, fresh start to the meal. My Alaskan crab cakes were very good, and the thick slices of foie gras a real treat. Food intolerances are sensitively and helpfully dealt with here, and ever effort is made to accommodate. Chef Lij came out to discuss our requirements personally, which was much appreciated. For the main, course, decided to share two steaks, both rib eye and cooked medium rare. One was the U.S. Prime Black Angus Beef, and the other was the Australian Natural Kobe Style Wagyu Beef Grade 7. It was really interesting comparing the two cuts side by side. Both were excellent and seasoned using Lexington Grill’s fantastic seasoning blend, which is presented to diners as a parting gift. The perfect destination for a romantic, special evening.
UMI is one of the very best Japanese restaurants I’ve ever visited. The restaurant is decorated beautifully, and one feels almost transported to Japan on entering. There are two live cooking sections in the restaurant and visitors can sit either in the sushi section, the teppanyaki section, or somewhere in between, which is what we did. UMI is home to the largest collection of sake in the UAE. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend you ask for Sunil to guide you through – which is what we did. It was fascinating to pair the sake with the food and try the different grades of sake. Sunil is a fountain of knowledge, too. There’s a huge amount of choice on the menu, and we really struggled to pin our choices down. Chef Yukatade came out to discuss our dietary requirements with us, with help website https://phenterminehclrx.com, which was helpful. We decided to share a selection of nigiri, which were extremely good, served with homemade pickled ginger, which was sensational. We followed this with the miso black cod, which was utterly sensational and I cannot recommend it highly enough. A platter of delicious exotic fruits completed the meal nicely. Great food, gorgeous surroundings and delicious sake.
Where to shop
There is something irresistible about shopping for food abroad. I am endlessly fascinated by the food people buy and eat every day.
I recommend a trip to the Old Town in Ras Al Khaimah, where you’ll find quite a number of excellent neighbourhood bakeries. You can pick up a pack of their superb Arabic flatbreads for around 2 AED for six. Still piping hot, they are simply unmissable. You’ll find a range of freshly made sweets and baklava in many bakeries, too.
If, like me, you adore fresh tropical fruit, then I suggest heading to the Ras Al Khaimah fruit market. You’ll find a wealth of fruit shops selling everything from Pakistani mangoes to rambutan and fresh turmeric. Make sure you ask for a coconut, which will be cut down from a stalk and cut open and handed to you with a straw to enjoy, which is just the most refreshing drink. If you’re there earlier in the year, ask for Aphonso mangoes, which come from India and have the most heavenly flavour. They’re currently banned from the EU, so seize the opportunity to try them, if you can.
And if a look around a supermarket is an essential part of a trip for you, then head to Al Aswaq, which sells a wide range of interesting Arabian and Indian ingredients to stock up on.
Getting to and around RAK
Getting around in Ras Al Khaimah is easy: taxis are plentiful and cheap. Drivers are generally happy to wait for you, too, so do check at the start of the journey.
Ras Al Khaimah is easily reached from London, and we flew with boutique airline Royal Brunei, who offer a superb service. The flight time is around 7 hours to Dubai, and taxis to RAK from Dubai are regular and inexpensive. It should cost around 200-350 AED each way. Both Business and Economy classes with Royal Brunei are great. The service is fantastic, really charming, personal and gracious. Another plus is that Royal Brunei run brand new Boeing Dreamliners throughout their long-haul service, which offer fully flat beds in Business class and plenty of space in Economy. There’s a good and plentiful choice of food and drink available on board, making the flight a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
There are some excellent value packages to RAK available online at the moment. Southall Travel are currently offering a 3 night stay to RAK, travelling with Royal Brunei at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa in a Deluxe Beach Villa for £579 per person, including Economy flights, or £1979 per person, including Business class flights.