Saturday, May 21, 2011

Food Fridays: Food in the UAE

The foreign born population in the UAE is massive in comparison with the native Emiratis. As a result, there is actually a fair amount of variation in the food, with great Indian and Pakastani restaurants all over the place as well as Lebanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Western style cuisine. My friend and I tended to end up at Lebanese places or other restaurants serving kebab or shawarmas, but here's a run down of some of the different inexpensive (and good) places that we ended up trying. No meal here was more than $15.

The Riviera Restaurant: Nicely presented and tasty, but also slightly touristy. Some of the other lebanese places we went to felt like they were more authentic.

The standard spread, plus muhammara and hammos.

Muhammara: A slightly spicy paste with the same consistency as hummus. The dark drizzle is a pomegranate syrup that gives it some sweetness as well.  

Kebab: A lot of the kebab in Abu Dhabi of this particular style reminded me of Swedish meatballs.
The Green Darbar Pakistani Restaurant: One of my favorites of the bunch and definitely NOT in your guide book. This was less $10 for two people and matched the quality that we got anywhere else. The chicken literally melted off the bone and the flavors were right on. The restaurant itself caters to locals and some people would be put off by the simple standards of the place, but the people were friendly and the food was great. The only reason it felt even the remotest bit odd was because it seemed like not too many expats go there, so I was somewhat of a novelty.

Chicken Biryani and Masala: The Masala (left) was about $3, the bread $0.75, and the Chicken Biryani (right) was about $5. Great deal!

Hatam: Hatam is a chain of Iranian restaurants found in malls. It's decent, a little on the expensive side because it's in a mall, and very filling. Last time I was here, I had the lamb kebab which was really good and this time I tried the "Soltani", which is a combination of minced kebab (chenje) and steak (barg). Perfectly reasonable for a quick bite.

Lebanese Village Restaurant: Among the tastier kebab we had was the Lebanese Village restaurants. Inexpensive and the mix grill was very generous with the meat. Below is also an example of lemon-mint juice which is fantastic. It's just lemonade with fresh mint mixed in, but it's amazing.

A little bit of everything. 

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