Manhattan Fish Market is Dubai’s newest seafood chain to be imported from the United States. The restaurant concept may be new to our city, but it already has a huge fan following from across the globe, with more than 67 chains spread across Asia and the Middle East, including Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Oman, India, Bangladesh and Qatar.
Inspired by the fish markets of Fulton Street that served up the freshest catch of the day right under Manhattan’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Fish Market is a restaurant concept with over 180 years of history in the making!
Dubai’s very first branch is located in Festival City Mall, and I had the pleasure of trying out quite a few of their iconic, ‘fin-tastic’ dishes last week.
Manhattan Fish Market is located on the second floor of Festival City Mall, in one secluded corner of the Skywalk Food Court. It can be a little tricky to find, and we found ourselves asking for directions more than once.
Once we were in the right direction, the signboard shone out loud and clear. The front facade of the restaurant is very bright, chirpy and inviting. The staff chorus out a ‘Welcome’ every time a diner walks into the doors, which takes many by surprise!
The walls of the restaurant are decorated with quirky seafood-themed quotes and nautical additions including a large sailor’s wheel that Popeye would be proud of.
Even the paper napkins here are printed with witty riddles… gotta love a restaurant with a sense of humor!
We were hosted by the very friendly Mr. Sitaram, Resturant Manager at Manhattan Fish Market – Festival City. Having walked about the mall (and ofcourse we have to do the usual Ikea round whenever we are in Festival City!), we were in desperate need of some chilled drinks. Mr. Sitaram offered us their Blue Lagoon (a vibrantly blue fizzy concoction featuring Blue Coracco and 7Up, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream), and the Happiness Infusion (a dainty pink mix of strawberry syrup, aloe and lychee and a refreshing hint of Earl Grey with lemongrass).
Of the two, I definitely liked the Happiness Infusion best. I have never had Earl Grey and lemongrass with fruits, and this unusual combination seems to work seamlessly well together.
Manhattan Fish Market is a family-friendly chain, and has a comprehensive menu for little ones. My little munchkin indulged in their Pirates Surf n’ Turf, a boat-load of chicken nuggets, Dory nuggets, mushrooms and fries.
For our appetizers round, Mr. Sitaram was kind enough to create a mixed platter of their signature bites for us. We had nibbles of their Onion Glory (deep-fried golden wedges of battered onion), and a mixed platter of Ocean Gems (deep-fried, crispy calamari and battered mushrooms, served with a very refreshing Cranberry Coleslaw).
We were served Manhattan Fish Market’s signature sauces on the side. All the sauces are made in-house, and really bring the seafood flavors alive! Mr. Sitaram introduced us to a whole array of interesting sauces, each with a very unique mix of flavor combinations:
- Smokey Chipotle Sauce
- Cajun Honey Mustard
- Garlic Herb Sauce
- Spicy Seafood Dip
- Volcano Sauce
- Fiery Sauce
- Tartar Sauce
- Black Pepper Sauce
My favorites were the tangy-hot tomato-based Fiery Sauce, the robust, flavorful Black Pepper Sauce, and the very flavorful, creamy Garlic Herb Sauce.
Manhattan Fish Market has built a reputation for their lip-smacking American-style seafood dishes, and not everything here is your usual battered and fried Fish n’ Chips either.
I was particularly interested in their signature ‘Flamed’ style of cooking, and ordered their Small Flame. This platter is only ‘small’ by American standards! It includes a very generous portion of mixed vegetables, fries, Garlic Herb Rice, prawns and grilled Dory, and is served with Manhattan Fish Market’s iconic Flaming Sauce and a Spicy Seafood Dip. Adding drama to the dining experience, the platter is torched right before us on the table!
Seafood and garlic is a match made in heaven, and the garlic-flavored rice therefore went beautifully well with the charred Dory and prawns.
Ending our meal on a sweet note, we had a little more drama in store for us. This is Manhataan Fish Market’s Sizzling Banana. The platter features two battered and deep-fried bananas, and the drama of sizzle comes alive with a downpour of warm coconut cream. Adding to the decadence is a scoop of contrastingly cold chocolate ice-cream.
Banana and coconut cream is yet another divinely delicious combination. Add the decadence of a crisp, golden batter and chocolate ice-cream, and you have a real treat in hand!
With a deep-rooted history in the seafood business and a fan following spanning three continents, it was high time Dubai got introduced to Manhattan Fish Market! Do look them up in Festival City Mall, and I am sure we will be seeing more branches opening up across the city in the near future.