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Delectable Dubai: Most tourists come to Dubai with a list of must-eats

Two restaurants in this Middle-Eastern hub leave an indelible impression on the diner

Manjri Agarwal | Published 24.04.22, 03:18 AM
The spread is super yummy at 3 Fils

The spread is super yummy at 3 Fils

The food scene in Dubai is just bursting with eateries, cafes, fine dining, street food, and so on. Most tourists come to Dubai with a list of must-eats drawn from Google searches or recommended by friends and family. But there are so many places serving great food, in simple abodes which don’t burn a hole in your wallet and are away from the glitz and glamour of Dubai International Financial Centre or the five-star hotels.

These “no-alcohol” restaurants focus on top quality food served with a smile and the formula has put them on the list of the 50 best restaurants in the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region.

3 Fils

Shop 02, Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, 1 Al Urouba Street, Dubai, UAE

It is one of the most unassuming restaurants in Dubai serving the most incredible Asian food with a Japanese touch. No wonder it is the No. 1 restaurant in the MENA region. 3 fils means “2 cents” and the ambience is actually unpretentious with simple furniture lining the waterfront of the fishing harbour in Dubai. The restaurant is located in an old fisherman’s building with a terrace and the soft breeze from the gulf transports you to the Far East. Definitely a good idea to carry a light jacket as the evenings get a little windy.

Begin your meal here with the Nesume Summer Salad — grilled corn, gem lettuce, seaweed, shredded nori, sprinkled sesame seeds and with an umami dressing. The flavours just hit the right spot and the grilled corn gives a smoky body to the dish. I could have had an entire portion for myself.

For starters go with the sushi. Yes, the maki rolls are deep fried but I would go with the Spicy Tuna. Wrapped with a spicy Korean sauce called Samjung, and wasabi mayo, the rolls are complete by themselves and do not require to be dipped into soya sauce and wasabi. The sprinkle of Furikake — a mix of nori, sesame seeds and salt, these crunchy rolls are to die for. Sashimi and nigiri are great due to the freshness of the fish and the high quality ingredients used.

With limited options for vegetarians, the menu serves an excellent ramen, which can be made vegetarian. Silky noodles tossed with asparagus and snowpeas and many secret ingredients makes one want to slurp until the last strand of noodle is gone from the bowl. The dish is named after the noodles they use — Indomie, an instant noodle brand which is cooked with the chef’s twist.

The Chicken Wings are another specialty at this no-reservations dine-out. Served with gloves for the diner to prevent burning fingers, one has to use their hands to dig into these spicy, juicy wings. The Chilean Sea Bass was another favourite as it was light and reminded me of cod as it was creamy and soft. Very unlike a sea bass. Flavoured with a mint salad and chili oil, it serves as a great main course and a more subtle dish to the robust flavours of the chicken.

After all this there was no place for dessert so we definitely have to make another trip to try some of their options. But this no-frills restaurant is a must visit on your next trip to Dubai.

A selection of dishes at Orfali Bros

A selection of dishes at Orfali Bros

Orfali Bros

Wasl 51 Mall, Dubai, UAE

At No. 6, this restaurant made its debut and has created waves in the dining-out world in Dubai. Started by three brothers, the first ever bistronomy, this place delivers the most incredible dishes. Inspired by their travels, each dish is an amalgamation of cultures, arts, tastes and creativity. They say: “Food is our language.”

We started with Corn Bomb, served in corn husks on a stone plate with generous portion of aged parmesan cheese. An intelligent blend of Mexicana and Italian flavours, melting in the mouth at every bite, this is an excellent start to the meal.

Move on to the cold starters — Spiced Burghul Tabbouleh with Aleppo Chili Paste, tomatoes, puffed burghul for the crunch, dash of olive oil and wait for the twist — served on shisho leaves. This blend of a Middle-eastern recipe with Turkish chili served on leaves that are primarily used in the Japanese food just blew me away. A very interesting name to go with the dish — Eat H. Keeps one guessing.

We also had Mexicana — corn and avocado salad with cabbage, spicy jalapeno, onions, tomatoes, a unique salsa verde, sprinkled with black sesame and cumin seeds. This was considered the best dish of the meal. The corn ribs were crunchy and the bowl was bursting with flavours. Mexico meets Asia and oh so beautifully.

We moved on to the hot meals and the Miso Tahini Salmon had the most takers. It was soft, tender and the emulsion of tahini and miso was earthy and had umami. Patata Bravas for the brave hearts as they are triple cooked and so delicious with a secret bravas sauce.

The pides are a must-try. The sourdough crust makes it a lot easier to digest at the same time adding to the flavour. The Stratcciatella Pide with heirloom tomatoes, basil, Aleppo chili and pepper just oozes with goodness. The Burnt Leeks And Truffle Pide is a unique mix of flavours along with hazelnuts, onion and brown butter.

The desserts are not be missed as one gets to choose from the wide variety laid out at the counter. If you have space try the freshly brewed coffee too.

Manjri Agarwal is director of Tastebuds Gourmet Foods. She can be reached at Find her on Instagram @bigplatesmallplate and on Facebook at Big Plate Small Plate

Last updated on 24.04.22, 03:18 AM

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