The culinary stars of the restaurant world converged in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi on 7 February 2022 for the debut of the Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. Restaurants from across 11 countries within the Middle East and North Africa were announced as the top 50 places to eat in the region at an event held in Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers. Hosted in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, the event culminated in the announcement of the region’s first-ever No.1 restaurant, 3 Fils, whose team took to the stage to receive the award.
3 Fils, a casual contemporary Japanese restaurant located in Dubai’s historic Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, was founded in 2016 by two Emiratis and a Singaporean. The menu features Asian fusion dishes ranging from sushi rolls to indomie, as well as king crab salads, marinated lamb ribs, and matcha chocolates with tea crumbs and milk foam from its dessert bar, Brix, located next door. 3 Fils is one of the most celebrated and recommended restaurants in the UAE and has now earned the highly coveted ranking as the best restaurant in the MENA region. This hidden gem prides itself on elevating every dining experience with a sense of comfort, discovery and sharing in a laid-back harbourside setting.
The Japanese izakaya Zuma in DIFC, Dubai, founded by chef Rainer Becker, claimed the No.2 spot, followed by Raz Rahav’s OCD Restaurant in Tel Aviv (No.3), which was also named The Best Restaurant in Israel.
William Drew, Director of Content for the Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants, said: “It’s a great honour to announce that 3 Fils has made it to the top of the rankings at the inaugural Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. It is a brilliantly executed home-grown restaurant, loved by local residents and visitors alike. There is no doubt that it sets new standards in creativity, sourcing and food presentation, coupled with a personable service style, and we are delighted to announce that it has been voted No.1. Additionally, we are excited to see that 11 countries from the region are represented on the Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants list, demonstrating the extraordinary diversity of cuisine in this region.”
The United Arab Emirates tops the list with an impressive 19 restaurants, including three from host city Abu Dhabi, while Israel follows with six restaurants on the list, two of which are in the top 10: OCD Restaurant (No.3) and George & John (No.9). Following close behind are Lebanon and Saudi Arabia with five restaurants each: just outside the top 10 and leading the way for Beirut is Baron (No.12), named The Best Restaurant in Lebanon, while Riyadh’s Myazu (No.15) is the winner of The Best Restaurant in Saudi Arabia title. Egypt is also well-represented with four restaurants featured in the ranking including Sachi (No.5), making it The Best Restaurant in Egypt. Jordan also has a player in the top 10 with Fakhreldin (No.7) in Amman named The Best Restaurant in Jordan.
The anime-inspired Japanese eatery White Robata in Kuwait City comes in at No.43, making it The Best Restaurant in Kuwait, while steakhouse Cut by Wolfgang Puck in Doha (No.36) bags The Best Restaurant in Qatar award. At No.31, Mirai is The Best Restaurant in Bahrain, while Tunis restaurant La Closerie (No.46) claims the title of The Best Restaurant in Tunisia. Three Moroccan restaurants also feature, with Marrakech’s La Grande Table Marocaine (No.26) being voted The Best Restaurant in Morocco, alongside Iloli (No.32) in Casablanca and +61 (No.49), also in Marrakech.
Popular Singapore-born chef Reif Othman is honoured with the Chefs’ Choice Award. Designed to give recognition to a chef who has had a positive impact on the regional culinary community, the award is peer-voted by chefs of the restaurants on the MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Othman has worked in many of the leading restaurants throughout the region, including Zuma and Burj Al Arab in Dubai, and recently opened a new restaurant under his own name, Reif Kushiyaki, which features on the ranking at No.16.
The Sustainable Restaurant Award honours the establishment in the list with the highest sustainability rating. This award is presented to Lowe (No.23) in Dubai, a restaurant that has set a new standard for exquisite food that goes hand-in-hand with sustainability. Chef-owners Jesse Blake and Kate Christou focus on reducing waste through nose-to-tail cooking while also supporting their team and the wider community.
As a recognition of excellence in restaurant service and dining experiences, the Art of Hospitality Award is presented to Dubai’s Trèsind Studio (No.4). The restaurant is commended for its theatrical gastronomic experience incorporating multiple changes of pace and scenarios. Chef Himanshu Saini’s brand of advanced Indian food is matched by the perfectly choreographed service.
Sahar Parham Al Awadhi, formerly Head Pastry Chef at the esteemed Burj Al Arab in UAE, takes home the MENA’s Best Pastry Chef Award, sponsored by Valrhona. Sahar began her culinary career in 2014 and has worked at La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie in Dubai with Izu Ani and Le Saint Georges in Paris. As an Emirati, she believes in showcasing the origins of her ingredients and supporting local producers.
Other pre-announced award winners accepting their trophies on stage include Tala Bashmi of Fusions by Tala, often referred to as the voice of modern Bahraini cuisine, winner of the first Middle East & North Africa’s Best Female Chef Award; Kamal Mouzawak, one of Lebanon’s most prominent food activists, winner of the Foodics Icon Award for elevating the slow food movement in the country and his outstanding contributions to the restaurant industry; and innovative izakaya joint Kinoya, which picks up the One To Watch Award, presented to founder and ‘Ramen Queen’ Neha Mishra.
The annual list is compiled by the Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, an influential group of 250 key leaders in the restaurant industry across the region, each selected for their expert opinion of the Middle East and North Africa’s restaurant scenes.
The Academy is divided into six regions: the Gulf; Saudi Arabia; Levant-plus; Israel, North Africa (East) and North Africa (West). Each region has its own panel of members including a chairperson, called the Academy Chair, to head it up. The panel is made up of food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and highly regarded gourmets. For the 2022 list, each MENA Academy member voted for seven restaurants, with at least one of these located outside the country where they are based. None of the event’s sponsors has any influence over the voting process.
The top 10 list is as follows:
- 3 Fils | Dubai
- Zuma | Dubai
- OCD Restaurant | Tel Aviv
- Trèsind Studio | Dubai
- Sachi | Cairo
- Orfali Bros Bistro | Dubai
- Fakhreldin | Amman
- LPM Dubai | Dubai
- George & John | Tel Aviv
- Gaia | Dubai
For the full list, click here.