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Good and bad in Dubai


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#61 Franci

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 10:15 AM

I am back from holidays, finally.
I couldn't try everything I had on schedule, I think the Dubai thing to jump from one taxi to another somewhat restrained me from crossing the all town just to go to a restaurant. I managed to go to Karam Beirut. It was not bad but I didn't find it better than the lebanese food I can get in London.

I went also to Al Nafoorah, just because we were staying at the Emirates Towers and as last dinner in Dubai it was just easier. I am happy I have been there, I liked it more than Karam. We didn't order a lot but still I found it has a fresher touch, we had a zaatar salad, which I had for the first time and was curious to try, steamed artichokes with lemon, grilled fish and dessert.

Instead I can suggest future visitors to stay far away from Marina Seafood.
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My husband wanted to go there for the view. It was one of the worst meals ever, the place was empty and we still waited 45 minutes for our appetizers.
Same night, we were around the creek so we went to Bastakia Nights. Probably is a very touristy place

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The dinner was not memorable but it was still pleasant. More than anything I have been very happy with the service, it was very late but they let us in anyway, they didn't rush us. I really tought: ah, finally exist still some old school professional waiter!


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#62 turbo_tamago

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 02:56 AM

Hello all ! This is my first post ! I have been lurking here for a while steadily digesting the wonderful content of this site and in particular the very informative information on this post. I am based in Central London and I am off to Dubai later tonight for 5 days on holiday and following the recommendation of you lot I have booked:

Al Nooforah @ Emirates Towers
Sloane's @ Grosvenor Park (followed by cocktails at Budda Bar or Bar 44!) - apparently this is an international buffet...

I will try to go for a bite at Chandelier too - Dubai marina was not finished when I was in Dubai 14 months ago ! I am staying at Sheikh Zayed Road so it's pretty central for most places. What's happened to Retro? That was one on my shortlist ! Can't find it on the Le Meridien Mina Sayahi website now ! :huh:

Also, high end places are fine, but when I visited last time I ended up being taken to Karama to a fab local place called Yahalla (or something like that). It was fab, spent £10 and had a real feast! Can anyone recommend any gems like this too??

Oh I also got taken to Asha's (Indian at Wafi City) 4 months ago when I stopped over in Dubai for business. I am not usually a fan of fusion or contemporary interpretations of certain cuisines (preferring the original) but I really thought Asha's was spot on, shall be revisiting - the service was great and the cocktails were bespoke and worked very well ! :biggrin:

Oh does anyone know if Peanut Butter & Jam is still on at the Wafi rooftop? If so what days?

Finally can anyone recommend a nice romantic place for dinner. I am not fussed as to the cuisine. Something like PierChic (but I have been there last time - it was lovely).

I'll go armed with my two cameras and will post pics back at the end of next week - I am quite trigger happy so there should be some nice pics to follow !

:cool:

#63 Catriona

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 03:04 AM

Ooh, have a good time. My plans to move to dubai have been abandoned since I last posted on this thread...

I loved Bar 44 - but later in the evenig, Buddha bar may be the thing, I don't know - depends on what you're looking for!

#64 prasantrin

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 03:35 PM

I've been researching for my trip in the spring, and have found a place called Bastakiah Nights to be highly recommended. It would be in the high-end range, I think (I can't find info on prices, but the descriptions made it seem expensive). There's also a place called Automatic Food, or Automatic Schwarma or Automatic something that's supposed to be quite good Lebanese. I think this one is lower-end than Bastakiah Nights, but I can't guarantee that.

Sorry for the late reply. Hope you're having a good trip, and please report back!

#65 jakob nielsen

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 08:50 AM

Just had dinner at Ashas. Great stuff. Food is excellent, and the place is real nice.

#66 prasantrin

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 02:49 AM

Dubai doesn't get much traffic on eGullet, it seems, but does anyone have any updates on the food scene there?

I'll be there for about 2 weeks visiting friends. I've gone through arbuclo's blog and have picked up some recommendations there, and also have some from other UAE topics here and there.

High-end, low-end, Lebanese, local (Emirati), etc. I'm looking for pretty much any kind of food in any price-range, as long as it's good.

Forgot a couple of things...

I'm especially looking for lunch places where I can eat a meal solo. My friends will be working during the day, so I'll be on my own most of that time. I want to eat well, but won't be able to eat at places that serve family-style, since it will just be me.

And, one of the places arbuclo mentioned in her blog was Retro at Le Meridian Mina Seyahi. According to their website, there's no Retro onsite. Did it close or have a name change?

Edited by prasantrin, 10 March 2007 - 03:30 AM.


#67 Nicolai

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 12:49 AM

There are simply too many restaurants to list.

As you are looking for lunch places, maybe you can narrow it down to which area in Dubai you will be as you will have to consider Dubai traffic before any other consideration.

So if you can advise as to which area you will be? and I will try to name few places where you can enjoy your lunch.
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#68 Nicolai

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 12:55 AM

Retro at Le Meridien is now called Tang.
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#69 prasantrin

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:30 PM

Retro at  Le Meridien is now called Tang.

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After browsing through their website again, I thought that might have been the case. Do you know if it is the same chef and style of food as when it was Retro? It seemed like an interesting place to dine when arbuclo wrote about it, but if it's changed much, I might give it a pass.

#70 prasantrin

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:10 PM

There are simply too many restaurants to list.

As you are looking for lunch places, maybe you can narrow it down to which area in Dubai you will be as you will have to consider Dubai traffic before any other consideration.

So if you can advise as to which area you will be? and I will try to name few places where you can enjoy your lunch.

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I'll be all over the place, just wandering around. It turns out my friend actually lives in Sharjah, though she works in Dubai.

I'll be spending most of my free time in Dubai at all the typical places--spice souk, gold souk, Wafi City (to go to Goodies!), Carrefour, that date shop arbuclo went to in her blog (Salehia? Salenia??), the perfume souk, Bastakiya area (I'll be in Bur Dubai often, I think, as I have friends in that area, too), Jumairah Mosque (on a Thursday or Sunday for the tour!), Deira covered souk, etc..

If you know a few really great places that you'd highly recommend, I'd actually be willing to plan my daily itinerary around them! I'll have all the free time in the world, and am not really scheduling anything! It's supposed to be a relaxing holiday, so that's just what I'm going to do...relax! :biggrin:

#71 Domestic Goddess

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:13 PM

Rona, you're going to Dubai!??? My brother in law and best girlfriend work there. If you want some tour guide or even lunch company, I can hook you up with them. Just PM me and I'll email them about you. :)
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#72 Nicolai

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 01:44 AM

So it is lunch for one:

Lunch in Dubai is populated with so called Business-men/women and is an entertaining ballet of well dressed people from the posing crowd.

You can have a nice bite to eat and enjoy the show in the following places:

1- Emirates Towers – Mosaico
2- Media City – Al Mazaj
3- Madinat Jumeirah – Any restaurant on the promenade
4- Emirates Mall – Any restaurant at the food court

However, if I were in your shoes, I would go to any of the Jumeirah hotels with my swimming trunks and lay on the pool/beach to have lunch and watch the world go by.
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#73 Christopher Haatuft

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 02:07 AM

I was wondering if there is one restaurant that stands out as in a league of its own in Dubai?

#74 Nicolai

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 12:13 AM

I was wondering if there is one restaurant that stands out as in a league of its own in Dubai?

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If you mean a restaurant above all restaurants, then the answer is No.

If you mean some gems in their own categories, then many.

Unfortunately, most restaurants are located in hotels and very few are independently owned and operated.

So when you say hotel, then it is restaurant chains either independent or hotel owned. In both cases, it is packaged material under the guise of celebrity chefs or famous eateries.
They are good but without any wow factor unless we are talking about the setting or the view!

Then again, it depends on your expectations and whether you are looking for cutting edge Adria or fine dining where on top of the Limoges plates, ladies are provided with cushions under their feet and to rest their Chloe bags!

I suppose Roman lecti cubiculares will make a come back soon!
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#75 Megan Blocker

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 11:34 AM

Don't know if his restaurants qualify as good or bad according to the experts here :wink:, but Ingo Maas, the executive chef at the J.W. Marriott Dubai, has put out a new book on Arabian cuisine, written with his sous-chefs...you can see a couple of photos over here!
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#76 Christopher Haatuft

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 03:45 PM

Ok, to put it like this; What kitchen is held with the highest reverence within the business in Dubai? What restaurants stand out when it comes to consistent quality, innovative cooking and good vibe in the kitchen? Is there one restaurant all cooks in Dubai would want to work in?

#77 Nicolai

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 11:58 PM

Don't know if his restaurants qualify as good or bad according to the experts here :wink:, but Ingo Maas, the executive chef at the J.W. Marriott Dubai, has put out a new book on Arabian cuisine, written with his sous-chefs...you can see a couple of photos over here!

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I do not know Ingo Maas and cannot comment on his book or his talent. I assume the book is about his Marriott cooking or maybe about Middle East food as there is nothing called Dubai or Emirates food per se!

However, what I can say is that the Marriott in Dubai is not and has never been on the Dubai culinary map. Their only restaurant worth an entry would be their steak house and that's about it.

So good luck on the new book to join on the shelves endless other books. T'seems the trend started with the Jumeirah food book is picking up speed in sunny Dubai.

Now, I brace myself for a deluge of other hotel chefs producing books ad nauseum.
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#78 Nicolai

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 12:33 AM

Ok, to put it like this; What kitchen is held with the highest reverence within the business in Dubai? What restaurants stand out when it comes to consistent quality, innovative cooking and good vibe in the kitchen? Is there one restaurant all cooks in Dubai would want to work in?

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Sorry got to laugh about the last line "Is there one restaurant all cooks in Dubai would want to work in".

Yes there are many such kitchens. All cooks want to be in there, however it is not for the high standards or vibrant kitchen but for the work environment, benefits and pay packet.

If I was a Chef, I would want to work at the Hyatt Regency in the Persian rest as it is open plan and the chefs are not limited in their vision to a greasy wall but can see the entire diners. Then again, I am not a Chef and it is a bias opinion.

Verre was voted again this year as the top rest. But we all know that this was not a popular vote and is strictly limited to the food writer of a certain local weekly mag. So no contest as we have the single opinion of one person.

Now, you may ask which is then the top restaurant and unfortunately you will get only personal views on that as there is no authority on the subject All mags needs the hotel revenues and will not jeperdize their milking cows.

What is the best rest for me, would be a mix of food standard, environment, service, entertainment. So a personal top ten in no particular order would be:
- The Mawal rest at the Rotana.
- The chinese at Mina Salam
- Bice at the Hiton
- Grill at the ex Intercont
- The Turkish eatery off Sheikh Zayed road. (for strictly one particular dish)
- The Morocan at the Royal Mirage
- The Indian at the Sheraton
- The Japanese at the Towers
- The fish at the Beach Centre
- 19 at the Golf thingy

Particular mention for the Four Seasons RoastBeef panini with a touch of Dijon Mustard.

There is no chance in hell that these rests be voted top rests in Dubai and frankly that would do me fine.
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#79 Christopher Haatuft

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 02:38 AM

Well, thank you Nicolai, for intelligent answers. This is consistent to what Ive read earlier, but I guess I was hoping that someone would mention one standout place that is better than all others. The reason Im asking is that after a couple of months staging in the US andEngland Im looking for work. I have free accomodation in Dubai, but I do not want to move donw there if I cant find work a a place that is extremely good.

#80 Megan Blocker

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 06:38 AM

Don't know if his restaurants qualify as good or bad according to the experts here :wink:, but Ingo Maas, the executive chef at the J.W. Marriott Dubai, has put out a new book on Arabian cuisine, written with his sous-chefs...you can see a couple of photos over here!

View Post


I do not know Ingo Maas and cannot comment on his book or his talent. I assume the book is about his Marriott cooking or maybe about Middle East food as there is nothing called Dubai or Emirates food per se!

However, what I can say is that the Marriott in Dubai is not and has never been on the Dubai culinary map. Their only restaurant worth an entry would be their steak house and that's about it.

So good luck on the new book to join on the shelves endless other books. T'seems the trend started with the Jumeirah food book is picking up speed in sunny Dubai.

Now, I brace myself for a deluge of other hotel chefs producing books ad nauseum.

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:laugh:

The book is really a product of flavors and ingredients from the Middle East mingling with Western haute techniques, more or less. The photography is quite stunning, though I haven't made anything yet. Plan to soon, and will keep you posted on the results.

Interesting to hear your opinion on the Marriott's place in the culinary world out there...
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#81 The Chefs Office

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 05:26 AM

Christopher, I can put you in touch with the right people in Dubai.

Drop me an email on judd at hostec dot com dot au
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#82 nikkib

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 05:47 AM

I just got back on monday from dubai and would highly recommed the lebanese restaurant at Emirates towers, we sat outside and smoked sheesha, and dined on mezze and the ubiquitous harmour and had a very enjoyable time. Verre was outstanding but obviously not "local" cuisine. We also went to Bab al shams - about an hours drive out of Dubai and ate at Al Hadeerah, £70 p/h got us an amazing traditional buffet, lebanese wine and traditional entertainment camels, belly dancers, singing etc and the ability to sit on the rooftop bar and watch the sunset over the desert as camels wandered by. Beautifully done and not as touristy as it sounds. Q'ds was great for sheesha and is in a great location on the creek. Basta Art Cafe was fab for lunch - in the bastakia quarter near the museum. Wish i was still there - Enjoy!!!
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#83 prasantrin

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 02:58 AM

I also just got back from holidays. I spent two wonderful weeks around the Arabian Peninsula. My first stop was Sharjah...

Sharjah is just north of Dubai. It's a little less crowded, but since most people living in Sharjah seem to work in Dubai, the traffic in the morning and late afternoon is horrendous. But it's a beautiful emirate, nonetheless.

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My first meal was at a restaurant on the Qasbah. No pictures of it as it wasn't very interesting, but it wasn't bad at all. We then dropped by Carrefour and picked up some sweets. arbuclo mentioned in her foodblog (from ages ago) that Carrefour had a good selection of Middle Eastern sweets, so I thought I'd see for myself. We picked up some Turkish delight, baklawa, I can't remember, and halvah.

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My Turkish delight came with a bonus

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When I first saw it, I thought it was a clump of sugar, but no such luck. It was some kind of cocoon. Everything not wrapped went into the garbage. All for the best, since what I had tried was stale. I guess not all Carrefour are equal.

Next up, Dubai...

#84 prasantrin

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 05:17 PM

Dubai is an interesting contrast of the traditional and the modern.
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In many ways, Dubai is very much like a large city (yes, I know Dubai is an emirate, not a city, but city is a pretty good comparison) in a third world country that is starting to develop at a rapid pace. Think Bangkok in the 80's. I didn't like it. The food, on the other hand, was not bad.

We had lunch in the Bastakia area, which is just a short walk from my friends' apartment in Bur Dubai. The XVA is just behind the Basta Art Cafe nikkib mentioned. Their menu is, surprisingly, entirely vegetarian. At our table was

the soup of the day (carrot),
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a rice thing with yoghurt,
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eggplant with halloumi,
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eggplant feta burger,
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murtabak with pita,
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and the best mint lemonade in Dubai.
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The mint lemonade was like a slurpee--icy and refreshing, and it had the perfect proportions of mint and lemon. Yum. The favourite dish was the eggplant feta burger. It was so good, Amy, my friend's partner, and I went back for another one!
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#85 Nicolai

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:42 PM

murtabak with pita,
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It is good that you have enjoyed your trip and thanx for the pics.

But are you sure this dish is Murtabak?

Looks like Mutabal?

Maybe a mix up in naming?
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#86 prasantrin

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 04:35 PM

But are you sure this dish is Murtabak?

Looks like Mutabal?

Maybe a mix up in naming?

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Oops. Yes, it's mutabal. I was going from memory, and my memory only remembers murtabak (I've used that word more often than mutabal, so it's more prominent in my mind).

I have one or two more Dubai posts, then off to other parts of the Arabian peninsula. I loved the area--except for Dubai, that is...

#87 prasantrin

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 07:06 PM

Still in Dubai. On our way to the spice souk, we happened upon an orange juice stand. Freshly squeezed orange juice, anyone?

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I didn't have any, but my friend always gets her orange juice from this stand. She says it's very good.

The spice souk was interesting, but almost all the stores carry the exact same things.
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I left the souk about $50 poorer, but armed with vanilla beans (about $6 for 10), some very potent menthol, lavender, frankincense (I think, I've forgotten already), and I can't remember what else. We also got some very good salted lemon almonds. I wish I had gotten more of those.

After the souk, we went back to the Bastakia area, which looks like this at night:
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We were able to get last minute reservations for Bastakiah Nights. They had several tour groups coming in that evening, so they gave us a private room.

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The food, Lebanese, was good, but not great. The atmosphere, however, made up for the food, making it an all-round great dinner. The only offer a course dinner--mezze, your choice of main dish, and dessert.

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Sorry for the flash pictures. The room was quite dark, so it was difficult to get good pictures.

Next stop, Yemen.

Edited by prasantrin, 14 April 2007 - 06:06 AM.


#88 Corinna Dunne

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 04:41 AM

Rona... this is great, thanks so much for the pics. It's so long since I've been in the Middle East and this brings it all back, the fresh orange juice, the spice souk etc. But I find it bizarre to see mezze on square plates with cheffy touches. A sign of the times!
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#89 prasantrin

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:00 AM

More square plates with cheffy touches to come! A lot of the newer restaurants in Dubai and Sharjah are very frou frou. I'm sure they have a lot of very good hole-in-the-wall type places, but all my friends are ex-pat workers, so they tend to dine at ex-pat type places. I almost went to an Automatic, but got lost and ended up at...shhhh....KFC. I was delirious with thirst from an accidental 3.5km walk (and the prospect of the 3.5km return walk), and needed something fast!

The last place I dined at was a fairly new Lebanese place in Sharjah at the Qasbah. I told our server I'd post the name on the internet, so they could get more business, but I can't find the card right now. It was a beautiful space, and the food was quite good, though I don't know if I'd say it was the best Lebanese food I've ever had. I much prefered it to Bastakiah Nights in Dubai, though, and it was also quite a bit cheaper! Restaurants in Sharjah have a difficult time, because Sharjah is much more conservative than Dubai. There was a time when a woman couldn't even wear short-sleeved shirts in the Emirate, but now that the Sheikh has paid off the debt to Saudi Arabia, the Emirate is loosening up a bit. Still no shisha (aka hookah, water pipe, etc.) in Sharjah, though, and that's what sends diners into Dubai rather than Sharjah.

Cold mezze and fattoush. I liked the chunky thing closest to the front. And the pomegranate seeds were a very nice touch, not just in terms of presentation, but for their flavour, as well. The fattoush was a little more tart than I like, but my friend loved it, and said it was the best fattoush she's ever had.
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Hot mezze
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The cool bread bowl, which I think was shell.
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And the dessert sampler, from left to right, a coffee-flavoured square, cheese filled cheese, two kinds of...mamoul? and some kind of pudding/custard.
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And I flew out later that night (at 2:30am), laden with dates (plain and filled), pastries, jilebi (I couldn't help myself! I love the stuff and can't get it in Japan), spiced nuts, cookies from Wafi Gourmet (also seen in arbuclo's foodblog), and assorted spices.

Quite honestly, I hated Dubai. It was dirty, crowded, and not very tourist-friendly. Sharjah was a little better, but I still wouldn't want to live there. I was in the UAE in part to visit friends, but also to do some reconnaissance since I was thinking of teaching there after my term in Japan is done. I have a feeling I missed my chance to be happy living in the UAE by about 3 years. My friends tell me I'd be happier in Abu Dhabi, but I'm not so sure. Perhaps in another 2 or 3 years, I'll try again. For now, though, I think I'll stay away.

Oman, on the other hand, is still an option, and I'm looking forward to going back to the area and exploring there a bit more. And Yemen...I haven't been to very many countries, maybe only about a dozen, but Yemen is most definitely my favourite country, and I will most certainly go back there one day. I must go to Socotra and Shibam of skyscraper fame, after all!

More Dubai/Sharjah pictures on webshots.

Oman post

Yemen is here and here.

#90 docsconz

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 05:33 AM

Thanks for your fine reports, Rona. I really enjoyed going through the photos on webshots. You have some really wonderful ones of children in Yemen.
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