This Middle East and Africa board seems like a desolate place -- and I suppose it's natural, since we're lacking the geographical density of participants that you'd get in New York. I relocated to Abu Dhabi more than a year ago from Jackson Heights, Queens, and I'm hoping that if these boards pick up a bit this place will seem slightly less a culinary wasteland of overpriced hotel food.
A first observation: had a fine meal last night at China Sea, recommended here by a previous post. The place is in Deira just west of the clocktower -- the facade is decked out in a neon-blaze of Orientalist excess. Inside it's pretty relaxed. The dumplings (especially the fried ones, which are on the menu as "gooley") were fantastic. Good Ma Po Tofu (if a bit sweet) and tasty Szechuan fried chicken. We had some so-so duck as well. I'd come back for dumplings alone, frankly. They will also serve you a certain haram beverage if you ask for it.
Anyone have suggestions for better Chinese outside of the hotels?
Finally, I'm trying to get my hands on some crushed/ground Aleppo pepper -- but struck out completely at the Deira Spice Souk yesterday. Any suggestions on places that might stock a few specialty ingredients?