May 27, 2022
You can always eat well in Dubai. Take a scan of any “best restaurants” list for this incredible city and you will see a host of world-famous names, the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Nobu Matsuhisa, Sanjeev Kapoor and even Jamie Oliver serving up high-quality cuisine to the Emirates’ gourmands.
What’s not quite as well known about Dubai, however, is that this metropolis is the perfect place to tour the Middle East with your taste buds, to discover the flavours and textures of neighbouring countries such as Iran, Yemen, Syria, Egypt and more, without ever leaving the city limits.
Dubai is filled with migrants from throughout the region, many of whom have brought their enviable culinary skills, and their establishments are easily accessible from Fraser Suites Dubai.
If you’ve ever wanted to try genuine Palestinian falafel, fiery Pakistani curries, pistachio-filled Syrian ice-cream and so much more, this is the city for you.
Iran lies just across the Persian Gulf, so it’s no surprise that there’s a large Iranian diaspora in Dubai, and plenty of excellent Persian cuisine. Just a 15-minute drive from Fraser Suites Dubai you’ll find Farsi Restaurant, a welcoming eatery just near Dubai Mall, which does Persian classics such as “Zereshk polo”, a saffron-rich chicken stew served with piquant barberries, and koobideh, or lamb-mince kebabs.
Photo Credits: Farsi Resturant
For a true taste of Iran however – from authentic cuisine to the sort of bustling, no-frills atmosphere you would expect in downtown Tehran – make the 25-minute drive to the historic Al Karama neighbourhood to dine at Al Ustad Special Kabab, a legendary grill restaurant, open more than 40 years, that serves incredibly good, affordable Persian food.
Farsi Restaurant: Executive Towers - G-101-100, Ground Floor, Bay Avenue - Al Amal St - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Few people outside of the Middle East know much about Yemeni cuisine, but Dubai is a great place to dive in and discover the country’s delicious braised and roasted meats, often spiced with “hawaij”, a classic mix of aniseed, fennel, ginger and cardamom, and always served with rice.
Perhaps the city’s best-known Yemeni restaurant is Al Yemen Mandi in the Deira district, about 25 minutes from Fraser Suites Dubai. The eatery is casual and friendly, the ideal place to bring a family or large group and dig in – Yemeni style – with your hands to eat the likes of chicken Madfoon, a classic dish of turmeric- and chilli-basted chicken served with rice and a rich sauce of garlic, chilli and tomatoes.
Al Yemen Mandi: Bait Al Jabal Bldg - 38 24 St - Deira - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
The cuisine of Lebanon is extremely tasty, running the gamut from mezze to rice to grilled meats and more. There are countless restaurants in Dubai serving Lebanese food; however, Ibn AlBahr might just be the most enjoyable, a classy joint with a seafood-heavy menu and located on a private beach just 10 minutes from Fraser Suites Dubai.
You’ll want to try the mezze – hummus, stuffed vine leaves, tabbouleh, fresh bread – but leave room for the main course: fish you can select from the “market”, grilled to perfection.
Ibn AlBahr: Club Vista Mare (Palm Jumeriah - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Anyone with a sweet tooth has to try authentic, Nablus-style “knafeh”, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert of mozzarella-like cheese topped with semolina pastry and sweet syrup. You can get it at Qwaider al-Nabulsi Sweets, an unassuming eatery in bustling Al Rigga, about half an hour from Fraser Suites Dubai.
Qwaider al-Nabulsi Sweets: Al Muraqqabat Rd - Deira - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Photo Credits: Mama’esh Al Wasl Road Al Manara
To sample the more savoury delights of Palestinian cuisine, meanwhile, try Mamaesh, an upmarket restaurant that specialises in its namesake, Palestinian-style flatbreads, as well as fatayer, a little like Lebanese pide. It’s just 10 minutes north of Fraser Suites Dubai.
Address: Union Coop - Villa 1081, Opposite - Al Wasl Rd - Umm Suqeim - Al Safa - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Syria shares much of its cuisine with its Levantine neighbours: hummus, flatbreads, grilled meats, falafel. However, there’s one dish that sets the country apart, and that’s “booza”, stretchy, chewy ice-cream that’s pounded flat, layered with pistachios, and then rolled and sliced. It’s absolutely delicious, and you’ll find it at Aroos Damascus, a casual Syrian restaurant in the Deira neighbourhood, 25 minutes by car from Fraser Suites Dubai.
Aroos Damascus: Ground Floor, Green Palace Hotel - Al Muraqqabat Rd - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
As with many countries in the Middle East, Egypt is a nation passionate about region-wide staples such as falafel and hummus, but it boasts a few signature dishes you won’t find anywhere else. The likes of ful medames, a fava-bean soup, and koshari, a carb-heavy mix of rice, chickpeas, pasta and tomatoes are Egypt’s own twist on the region’s most used ingredients.
Both of those dishes are served at Hadoota Masreya, an upmarket eatery about 15 minutes north of Fraser Suites Dubai. Don’t go too hard on the koshari though – the traditional desserts here, such as zalabya, or fried dough balls, and baqlawa, sweet pastries, are also excellent.
Hadoota Masreya: Sheikh Zayed Rd - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Ask any member of Dubai’s Pakistani diaspora where to sample the cuisine of their homeland and there’s a fair chance they’ll answer with one word: Ravi. Ravi Restaurant is nothing fancy, with plastic tables and chairs set out on a busy street in the Al Satwa neighbourhood, but the food here is top-notch, the sort of authentic cuisine that expats crave.
Come here for fiery curries, fresh-baked breads, shish-kebabs, seafood and much more. And expect that plenty of other people will have had the same idea. It’s a 20-minute drive from Fraser Suites Dubai.
Ravi Restaurant: 7HQQ67MH+CJ - Al Satwa - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Somewhat oddly, one of the most difficult Middle Eastern cuisines to access in the United Arab Emirates is that of the United Arab Emirates.
This is food Emiratis tend to eat at home, rather than at restaurants. However, there are a few eateries serving traditional local food, the likes of classics such as “fattesh”, a dish of bread, chickpeas, eggplant and yoghurt, and “machboos”, slow-cooked rice and meat with cardamom and saffron.
For the full Emirati experience, call into the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding to enjoy a meal paired with cultural education: how to eat, what to eat, and why it’s eaten. For modern and somewhat experimental Emirati cuisine, meanwhile, try Siraj, a hip eatery that serves Emirati-Levantine fusion food.
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding: Al Mussallah Rd - Al Fahidi - Dubai - United Arab Emirates