(CNN) — Set to run until April 2022, Dubai’s World Expo features pavilions from more than 190 countries, showcasing the latest in innovation and technology. But it’s also a dining destination, featuring a dazzling array of street food, fine dining, sustainable eating and concept restaurants.
With over 200 dining options for visitors to choose from, here is your guide to the some of the most delicious and intriguing eating experiences at Expo 2020.
The Alkebulan dining hall is a gateway to African food, culture, art and music. Curated by American celebrity chef Alexander Smalls, it aims to spotlight the flavors of the diaspora in a modern and authentic way. Smalls recently announced that he plans to take the concept to London and New York.
Executive chef Davisha Burrowes has been at the forefront of bringing Alkebulan to life. “These eating concepts do much more than sell food, they tell a story. They connect minds, which is what Expo is all about,” she says.
Distinguishing between the many cuisines from the African continent is part of Alkebulan’s mission. “Just as you can’t mix Italian and Spanish cuisine, even though they are on the same landmass, the same applies for cuisines from Africa,” says Burrowes.
With 10 restaurants under one roof — offering everything from seafood and street food to fusion fare and gourmet dishes — visitors can sample a range of the flavors the continent has to offer.
- Bunny chow at Afro Street
- Red red green stew at Penja
- Chukuya short rib at Choma BBQ
- Black oxtail at Sweet Ophelia’s
- Smoked mahi mahi at Seven Seafood
Penja’s red red green stew.
Home-style Korean flavors meet high-culture Japanese cuisine at Kojaki. Korean head chef Jin Chul Kim has cooked Japanese cuisine for 25 years and is now combining his roots with his skills at this fine-dining restaurant. “Food is culture,” he says, “and Expo spreads culture.” Kim takes his role at Kojaki very seriously. “My job is to appease the human tongue by serving course after course,” he adds.
Before you have your tongue appeased, you’ll first step into a space decorated with cherry blossom branches arching over tables, Korean artwork on the walls and low hanging street-style lamps.
Family is at the heart of Korean culture and the restaurant serves up home-style favorites. Start your Kojaki journey with its bestselling appetizer — sweet, spicy and crispy Korean fried chicken. Next, try the kimchi stew with tofu, shiitake mushrooms and just the right amount of spice.
For the grand finale and a delicious palette cleanser, try Kojaki’s modern take on a traditional dessert — bingsu. Imported Japanese ice (chosen for its purity, apparently) is finely shredded to a cotton candy consistency and then flavored and plated as if it were a work of art. The strawberry flavored bingsu is paired with glazed strawberry chips and soft strawberry mousse.
Kojaki’s mango bingsu.
Located on the ground level of the Alif (Mobility) Pavilion is this farm-to-table eatery headed by wife and husband duo Jessica Queitsch and Humaid Alremeithi, which prides itself on sourcing its food locally.
Here you can take a culinary journey along the Silk Road — the ancient trade route that ran from China, through the Middle East, to the Mediterranean. Dishes include Afghani dumpling soup, Western Chinese noodles, South Indian stew and Persian eggplant.
Monthly “Chef’s Table” events focus on different regional cuisines and give diners a more immersive culinary experience. For these, Alif Cafe collaborates with country pavilions to ensure its dishes are authentic.
The flavors of India and Pakistan were highlighted in January, while February’s focus is on the Arabian Peninsula, starring dishes from the United Arab Emirates and others. The grand finale in March will highlight the taste of Italy, Queitsch’s personal favorite.
Queitsch and Alremeithi Recommend:
- Western Chinese noodles
- Afghani chainaki lamb shank stew
- Black sesame cookie with ice cream
- Farm cream and honey with walnut bread
The Saudi Arabia Pavilion has been a firm favorite among Expo visitors and it might have something to do with its concept eatery Sard, located on the bottom level. Here, you can taste your way through the country’s 13 provinces by sampling 13 different types of “qahwa” — Arabic coffee. Each coffee is made using the bean and method that is most popular in a province.
If you don’t like coffee, Sard has an ice cream station serving flavors inspired by spices traditionally used in Saudi Arabian cuisine. Rose, chili, saffron, pistachio, black sesame seed and others are scooped into waffle cones or served in ice cream sandwiches.
If that doesn’t sound enticing enough, you can try the lokma ice cream, a popular Middle Eastern dessert that consists of fried dough and sweet syrup.
Sard serves delicious coffee and sweet treats.
Ever wanted to try one of the world’s most expensive coffee beans? Well, you can at Mokha 1450. Located in the Jamaica Pavilion, this boutique cafe uses Jamaica Blue Mountain beans, which produce a “perfectly smooth” coffee with “no bitterness.”
“Of course, tasting is believing,” Jamaican owner Garfield Kerr says. “Guests of the Jamaica Pavilion can taste for themselves the smooth, fruity, chocolaty flavor profile that sets this world-renowned coffee apart.”
As well as delivering caffeine, the café and pavilion offer visitors a glimpse into the history and rich coffee tradition that has existed in Jamaica for over 100 years.
Jamaica Blue Mountain beans at Mokha 1450.
Mudra and more
Hailed as the man who helped make plant-based eating trendy in Los Angeles, celebrity chef Matthew Kenney is behind three plant-based restaurants at the Terra (Sustainability) pavilion.
At Veg’d, diners can try burgers and bowls made with a range of fresh vegetables and tofu. XYST offers modern Mediterranean cuisine, including cold and hot mezze, while Mudra provides pizza and an elevated take on plant-based sushi.
Linger over plant-based drinks and shared plates whilst enjoying the panoramic view of Expo from Mudra’s rooftop dining space. Or let the DJ set the scene as you enjoy an evening of delicious plant-based food while sipping on sundowners.
Expo 2020 Dubai runs until March 31 2022.