Totally Fish: Selecting your fish from a market-style display is not a new concept to Bahrain, but it’s a good one and they do it rather well here. You know the drill: choose your fish from the display and tell the waiter how you’d like it done (fried, grilled, stuffed, doused in sauce…). We recommend the small local fish, safi, stuffed with a Bahraini-style filling of spices and herbs, fried and served whole (have two if you’re hungry). The perfect accompaniment for this choice is the oriental tapas, including hummus, saffron rice, tomato salad and Lebanese style potatoes (deep-fried with garlic), but if you go for the hammour in a red curry sauce, it would have to be the oriental sides, including a tasty glass noodle salad.
Bahrain City Centre, Seef (17 179 757). Open 12 noon-11pm daily.
Waves: If not hooked by the hotel-ish decor, you’ll definitely be reeled in by the pescatorean palate-pleasers on offer here, which are earning Waves a rep for some of the best seafood in town. Among our favourite dishes – one we’ve returned for – is the butter-soft hammour in a subtly spiced creamy tomato-based makhni sauce (there’s also a lobster version for the cash flash). But even if served up in the simplest of ginger and garlic or lemon butter, the fish and shellfish are always fresh, flavourful and light enough to leave room for the tasty baked cheesecake.
Crowne Plaza, Diplomatic Area (17 531 122). Open 12 noon-12 midnight daily.
La Perle: Bizarrely for an island, there are precious few places where you can enjoy your seafood overlooking the place whence it came. So La Perle is a rare gem situated as it is on the edge of the sea with large windows letting in the views. Selecting your meal is a cruise with choices limited to five set menus, going from BD14 for a three-course meal, including a starter (like a shrimp-stuffed artichoke), a choice of fish with clams or surf ‘n turf and dessert, to BD18, which gets you a lobster on your seafood platter or as an accompaniment to Chateaubriand. Afterwards, wend your way up to the Bellevue bar to enjoy a beverage shaken up with live jazz.
Novotel Al Dana Resort before the Muharraq Causeway (17 298 008). Open 7pm-12 midnight daily.
Sato: For those after a raw deal in the best possible sense of the expression, head to serene Sato, serving up traditional Japanese cuisine in zen interiors. We phone ahead to pre-book one of the sought-after tatami rooms for two, four or more, where you can sit on the floor and order from the menu-for-dummies complete with pictures of everything. For us it’s usually a platter of sushi and sashimi, always including pieces of tuna, salmon and mackerel, a couple of dear but delectable ugani ngiri (rice topped with lightly grilled eel in a sweet teriyaki sauce) and mod Geisha maki (salmon, hammour, crab and flying-fish eggs with spring onion, wrapped in rice and salmon). Impeccable service is the cherry blossom on the top.
Gulf Hotel, Juffair (17 726 162). Open 12 noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm daily.
Tamarind: A healthy modern-oriental theme ripples through the menu at this deluxe desert retreat where the outlook onto a sparkling swimming pool and fountains is a more than adequate substitute for the sea. Without a hint of guilt, you can select from a range of fishy dishes that are low in calories but high in flavour, such as the zingy Latin American classic, king prawn ceviche, given an Arabian twist care of Sumac spices or the one we go for, coriander cumin-crusted hammour on chickpea mash with cucumber raita.
Banyan Tree Desert Spa & Resort, Al Areen (17 845 000). Open Sat-Wed 12 noon-3.30pm, Thu-Fri 12 noon-3.30pm, 6.30pm-11.30pm.
Mirai: So popular is the tempura-battered shrimp popcorn at this super-stylish Adliya haunt that regulars sit down and order a bowl of it before they’ve even looked at the menu. From there, it’s on to an array of modern Japanese dishes with a strong focus on things fishy, from new wave rolls such as the delicious softshell crab maki to an array of innovative mains, none better than the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass. To finish it must be the warm chocolate pudding. Then it’s upstairs to the chilled lounge for a nightcap.
Adliya (17 713 113). Open 12 noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm daily.
Fish & Chips: The fare here is the kind that comes wrapped in newspaper on Brighton Pier, but there are times when simple is best, and a good piece of battered fish and chips doused in vinegar is the order of the day. Go for the fresh local hammour rather than the cod, which, apart from being over-fished and under threat globally, comes into Bahrain frozen. The Tasty Bite Special Mix (battered fish, prawns, squid and chips) is also pretty good, best enjoyed straight from the Styrofoam box on the Corniche overlooking the sea.
Adliya, near the Al Bustan Hotel (17 714 972). Open 6pm-3am; free home delivery 6pm-12 midnight daily.