I’d been to Al Fanar back in January this year. Not to eat, but to cover the interiors for the magazine I write for. I shall shamelessly plug the feature I wrote here, and ask that if you want to see more fantastic interior shots, to click on this link, and go to page 35.
Why did I wait until April 2012 to eat there? Simple: I was waiting on @movie_mafia to be in Dubai. If possible, I do try taking someone with me to restaurants if they know more about the cuisine, and she’s the Emirati food expert.
So off we went to Al Fanar, taking @eddydubai in tow.
We let MM do the ordering – and ended up with the habool/fish roe, chicken machboos and lamb biryani. We also decided on Vimto for drinks, and rounded it off with Arabic coffee and lgeimat.
So what was my experience like?
Much to the surprise of those who know me well, I ate the fish roe, and liked it. I liked the spices used in its preparation and it kept me going.
The machboos and biryani were both flavourful, and the meat was tender and well-prepared. Mixed with the yoghurt, it added an extra level of flavour.
It was my first time eating lgeimat and I found them extremely addictive. I don’t know how MM and Eddy managed to control themselves, but I pretty much went overboard with these little bite-sized chewy delights.
The coffee was pretty good, served in the traditional dallah (also found on the AED 1 coin) … I did end up using sugar though, since I don’t have very bitter coffee. I loved the traditional feel to all the dishes.
While I did love everything I ate, I didn’t think it would be appropriate for this review if it didn’t have an important voice speaking out. I asked MM for her thoughts, and she delivered:
I liked the design of the place. It had a very nostalgic feel to it and you can tell a lot of thought went into it. There was a lot of attention to detail, down to the plates (my grandma has very similar at her house!).
When I first sat down and saw the menus, it just felt very authentic. I wasn’t that impressed with the outside, it felt a bit like heritage village but once I sat down it stopped feeling gimmicky and felt like there was a real Emirati touch to it (rather than feeling like I was in an amusement park).
The food was very good. I’ve never had Emirati food outside my own home and this wasn’t very different to what I would eat at my house. The dishes were a little bit dry generally, but the flavours were all there and it was very authentic.
Vimto being available was a nice touch.
The small touches like dates at the table and hot sauce was also very Emirati and very nice to see! I loved the dessert and coffee, the luqeimat were near perfect and the Arabic coffee is just like the kind you’d be served at a wedding or someone’s home.
I’m really happy that there’s a place I can bring people when they ask me about Emirati food/culture. I would definitely bring people here who wanted to know more about our cuisine and history. It’s very well done and it’s great that it’s homegrown.
So there you have it: an Emirati stamp of approval on an Emirati restaurant. That’s good enough for me. How about you?
Park in the Spice parking of Festival City, then walk out towards the Canal Walk and turn right.
To read a much more detailed review of the restaurant, check out Ginger and Scotch’s post.