“I have to take you to this cool Uzbek restaurant,” I was told nearly a year ago. One evening, I was hungry, it was late and I was in the Marina. Off I was taken to Gulnaz. And I’ve been going there regularly ever since.
You can choose to sit outside, or in one of the two sections indoors: the main table area, or the inner area with tables where you take off your shoes, clamber in, sit cross-legged and close the curtain if you so wish. The interiors are interesting – bright and cheerful!
So what can you eat there? Perhaps consider ordering a cooling, refreshing drink called Urik Sharbat, made from apricots. I absolutely love the taste of this one, and have been having it nearly every time I’ve gone to this restaurant.
Lepeshka is the traditional Uzbek bread made inside a tandir… It’s a crusty and thin disc in the middle, then a puffy, soft perimeter guarding the central core. Tear chunks off and have it plain, or dip in the sour cream. Delicious.
Blintz is a Russian pancake, and we opted to have ours stuffed with beef. It’s a take on a crepe, and mixed with the dip on the side, it was nice enough. I’m not sure if I would order it again, but that may be because I’m just used to the Westernised version of the same.
Plov. HELLO THERE AWESOMENESS. Described on the menu as the “pride of Uzbek cuisine”, this truly is the star of the restaurant. And that’s also shown on some occasions when I’ve showed up, hungry for plov, only to be told they ran out <insert sad FooDee face here>. It’s an interesting dish, with the rice glistening, yet you cannot feel the oil burdening you down. Beef chunks and vegetables adorn the dish, and give it a definitively interesting flavour. It’s easy to keep eating this dish, then realise you’ve finished the entire plate. Nom, as some people would say.
I don’t have photos but I have also, on previous occasions, tried the lagman, which are the noodles. It was nice, but personally this one felt too oily to me. We also ordered the chicken shashlik on this occasion, but for the portion, I felt the price was too high. Not sure if I liked it otherwise either.
Oh Gulnaz also has dumplings – the fried manti and the gul-honim. Pictured here is the gul-honim, dumplings filled with potato and beef served with sour cream. It’s pretty, shaped like a flower when it arrives at your table, then when you try cutting it open, the beef and potatoes spill out, showing layers and layers inside the dumpling. Definitely try it with the sour cream.
Honey cake was last (I went on my birthday when I took these photos … I *had* to order cake!) and it was really soft, and not too heavy, which was great. When I said I just wanted one slice (we were stuffed), they thoughtfully cut it in four even though we didn’t ask. I’ve previously had their chocolate lava cake and that’s really delicious too.
Kazakh black tea in a tea pot was the end to our meal – surprisingly you don’t need any sugar or milk with this. It tastes perfectly good on its own.
Overall, Gulnaz offers satisfying Uzbek food, and is definitely different from chains found everywhere else. The waiter will tell you everything is “very tasty”, so feel free to explore the menu and find your personal favourites.
FooDee ordered (for four people):
Blintz x 1 = AED 25
Plov x 2 = AED 130
Gul Honim = AED 50
Chicken shashlik = AED 62
Lepeshka x 2 = AED 30
Urik sharbat X 4 = AED 100
Souse x 1 = AED 8
Honey cake x 1 = AED 25
TOTAL (for four) = AED 430
Practical tips: Scroll down for the map for its exact location. There is free parking in the next building. After you see the restaurant, take the first right, u-turn at the bottom, then first right into the free parking. If you’re taking the metro, get off at the JLT metro station. About a 10 minute walk.
Phone number, menu and more to be found on Gulnaz’s page on Zomato.
Also read a lovely review of Gulnaz by one of my favourite food bloggers, Ginger and Scotch.