Three Vimtos and a Machboos – my Emirati food experience

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!).

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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). 

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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.

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Vimto being available was a nice touch. 

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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. 

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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. 

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So there you have it: an Emirati stamp of approval on an Emirati restaurant. That’s good enough for me. How about you?

Parking tips:
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.

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10 thoughts on “Three Vimtos and a Machboos – my Emirati food experience

  1. IshitaUnblogged

    FooDee – what amazing photography! It’s too tempting.BTW, are you fond of Vimto? Just curious:)))

  2. GingerAndScotch

    I tried to comment earlier on a wordpress version but not sure if that went thru so here it is again:Was holding my breath while reading this post bc worried that my own impressions of Al Fanar might have been completely off but glad to see that MM’s comments were very much in line with what I posted.Can’t wait to take Scotch, my mom and my sis there next week!

  3. Sheryn

    I have never been! What a strange place we live that a person can be here for 5+ years and never eat any truly local food. Although even the ‘authentic Emirati’ dishes usually have Yemeni roots. The lgeimat looks really good!

  4. Devina Divecha

    Ishita – This was actually the first time I tried Vimto, and I did enjoy it πŸ™‚ How about you? And thanks for the comment about the photos!GingerandScotch – I’m so glad I waited for MM to go to the restaurant; how I waited for 3 months is beyond my understanding. It just helps I think, when someone who knows the cuisine inside out gives approval. Makes it right. Hope your family enjoys it too πŸ™‚

  5. Devina Divecha

    Sally – Yup, definitely. Let me know if and when you try it :)Sheryn – Oh it’s totally understandable! I’d never really eaten Emirati food until I went on a dinner with Arva a few months back, but Al Fanar was really good. I was impressed. And I’ve lived in Dubai for 23 years πŸ˜› So you’re not doing too bad! Lgeimat was goooood stuff.

  6. didipaterno

    This is up my eating out list! I miss reading your posts Dee! I’m so glad Posterous is doing ok πŸ™‚ *hugs*

  7. Dima Al Sharif

    What is it about Vimto that makes it really compliment the Emirati food? I mean I don’t even like Vimto, but with this type of food it just becomes super good.I have not yet been to this place, but I am now encouraged to give it a go as I do like Emirati food, thank you for sharing your experience πŸ™‚

  8. Devina Divecha

    Didi – Yay, get well soon and then you can go πŸ™‚ I missed posting too, but it’s been very hectic for a month. I’m slowly climbing back on the bandwagon and loving it! Posterous is actually giving me a few problems, but I don’t have time to migrate yet. It will happen eventually…when I find time.Dima – Haha Vimto just seems the right thing to drink with this, doesn’t it? Most odd. Yes definitely give it a go and tell me what you think πŸ™‚

  9. Drina C | Eaternal Zest

    I been meaning to drop a note eons ago… suffice to say I didn’t even have time to post up my already ready-to-go post in the past 2 weeks.This is lovely! I don’t like middle-eastern food too much but this post is so enticing. From the pictures to your friends review on emirate food… i heart it! πŸ™‚ vimto reminds me of the good ol days when I was in Qatar πŸ™‚ hahha

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