A recent development in my bloglife is that I am joining the Chowzter blogger community to identify the tastiest food items in Dubai so that they can be presented in a simple location based APP that diners can use. There are only two rules: no “chandeliers”(Fine Dining) and no chains. Firstly, I have to identify The King (my current favourite item in the city for now) and The sacred 6 (six more tasty items from a variety of categories). All these can change any time I find a tastier dish – so the king better watch out too!
Here is the list of my 7 favourite current fast feasts of Dubai, starting with the KING…
The King – The spicy fried Shrimps @Bu Qtair Fish Restaurant: This is perhaps the only restaurant in Dubai that hasn’t changed over the years despite it’s soaring popularity and it’s enormous media publicity in recent times. The first time we visited Bu Qtair, was in 2000. We went over the moon discovering an almost run-down small shack serving lip smacking fried fish, in the unexpected of places – the Jumeirah beach, In-fact the only change that must have taken place over the years is the change in name from Bu Qtair Cafeteria to Bu Qtair Restaurant (with an additional tagline – Fish Restaurant, in their modestly printed visiting cards). The charm perhaps lie in the contradiction in it’s location – the sudden discovery of a modest portacabin which was once a rundown shack selling fried fresh fish amidst the boat sheds with the 7-star hotel Burj Al Arab as a backdrop.
The menu (no printed menu card – all verbal) is flexible and depends upon the catch of the day. It is limited to mostly Sheri, Hammour (belonging to the Grouper family, very popular in the UAE and resulting in it being ‘overfished’), Pomfret, Snapper and Shrimps and served with Deep fried seasonal fresh catch. In colder months, King Fish might be included. But my favourite are the fried Shrimps. Marinated in Salt, Turmeric and a *secret* ingredient which Moosa, the owner is hesitant to share, these insanely tasty fried Shrimps can be accompanied (to be ordered separately) by a bowl of spicy Fish Curry (above) prepared in the Malabari (Keralite) style with fresh Sardines and Coconut Milk and some soft Malabari Parathas (Indian flat breads fried in oil). Half a kg of fried Shrimp costs Dhs 75/- and the portion is generous enough to feed 2-3 people. A deep fried whole fish costs anywhere between  Dhs 35/-Dhs 80/, depending upon the size of the fish. A bowl of Fish Curry costs Dhs 5/- while a Paratha would cost a Dirham each. {My detailed blogpost with a video that has been shared by the online news channel Emirates 24×7… Bu Qtair Fish Restaurant | A Hidden Gem In Jumeirah!}
Bu Qtair Restaurant (Cuisine – Indian)
Tel No: 0557052130; Location: Umm Suqeim 2 (Jumeirah 5)
Opening hours: Sat-Thu 12pm – 2:30pm and 6:30pm – 11:30pm, Fri 2pm-11pm
Awards: TimeOut Dubai Restaurant Awards 2013 (Best Budget Winner)
No home delivery


Starting with the Sacred 6…
1) The House Burger with Camel meat @Local House Coffee Shop & Restaurant
The Local House Restaurant is housed in one of the traditional Emirati houses with wind towers in Bastakiya area. Though it is touristy, this is also one of the safest baits for tasting the Camel Meat. Camel meat is eaten throughout the Gulf and has, for centuries, been used in traditional nomad recipes as a result of its ability to survive in the very arid conditions of the Arabian Peninsula. It is also supposed to be a healthy alternative to the regular burger patties in the sense that they are fat and cholesterol-free. Camel meat is generally tough and the tenderizing technique here remains a closely guarded *secret*! Apart from the oomph factor and the novelty, do I enjoy the Camel Burger? Yup!
I am not a Burger person at all and can never understand why people go ballistic over them. This is one exception. There are many types of Burgers on the menu but my favourite is the House Burger. Here a quarter pound burger patty which has been brushed with homemade Tomato Salsa and caramelised Onions, is topped with a fried egg. Biting into this burger can be really messy as the yellow yolk belts out of the fried egg and mixes with the Tomato Salsa – it’s worth the mess! Instead of the regular sesame bun cupping the burger patty, one could opt for the popular regional bread – the freshly-baked Khameer. The House Burger costs Dhs 46/- and comes with a very generous portion of French Fries. So this is a modern twist to a Bedoin tradition. Calorific recommendation here – since the patty are sans fat and cholesterol free, why not wash this down with a camel milkshake?
Local House Coffee Shop & Restaurant (Cuisine – Middle Eastern)
Tel No: +971 4 354 0705/ +971 55 440 4989; Location: House No 51, Al Bastakiya (near Al Fahidi R/A, Opp Al Mussallah Post Office)
Opening hours: Open Sat-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri 1pm-11pm
For more info: Website, Facebook
2) Chicken Shawarma @ Automatic Restaurant and Grill
Shawarmas have to be tried even at the cost of sounding clichéd. Shawarma is perhaps the most popular Middle Eastern export to the culinary world. It is a sandwich wrap made with Shawarma meat, where the the slightly burnt and grilled meat is shaved off from a meat block (picture further below) which is grilled over a very long period, in a vertical rotating spit. I love my meat but when it comes to Shawarmas, I love the Chicken over the Lamb Shawarmas. I love my Shawarmas to have the overpowering flavour of Garlic Sauce and the grilled meat and a bit of less of the pickled cucumber and the vegetables that go into the filling. The question is who serves the best Shawarma in Dubai? Nominated as the best Shawarma by Gulf News (only in Dubai can you expect a project named after the Shawarma the Shawarma Project), the Shawarmas in Automatic are still the best, specially from the Automatic Cafe by the metro station in Al Rigga Street.
What goes into making the Atutomatic’s best Chicken Shawarmas? Along with shreds of smoky, slightly burnt, tender Shawarma meat goes into the Khaboos bread and are kept succulent with chilled and the most delectable Garlic Sauce, Mayonnaise (if you insist), pickled Cucumbers and French Fries. A modern addition would be the French Fries inside the wrap which soaks up the sauce and juices. For once soggy French Fries seem absolutely acceptable and delicious. The Khaboos pocket then holds all of these together and is wrapped in butter paper. A small Shawarma wrap cost Dhs 8/- (approximately 8 inches long) and a larger variant comes at Dhs 16/-. Both are served with sour pickles. Wash it down with a fresh chilled Strawberry juice. Though Tahini (a paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds and used extensively in North African, Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine) is not used in the Chicken Shawarmas, keeping it exclusive for the Lamb ones, I ask a bit of Tahina to be put into my Chicken Shawarma – as much calorie loaded it can be!
Automatic Cafe (Cuisine – Lebanese)
While Automatic Restaurant and Grill has a few branches,
Tel No: +971 4 227 7824; Location: Near Al Rigga Metro Station, Deira
Opening hours: Open Sat-Thu 8am – 2am, Fri 4pm – 2pm (Some branches like in JBR, the restaurant are open throughout the day on Fridays)
3) Khameer, Chebabs, Muhalla and Balateet in the Flavours of Arabia @ Bikers Cafe
Flavor of Arabia, which is a traditional Emirati breakfast platter. Though there are lot of options in the Menu in this very trendy, first motorcycle-themed cafe in the UAE, my recommendation is this breakfast platter as there are not many places in Dubai serving Emirati food. And let’s face it, the cafe does churn this up deliciously. On a plate (below) there is a puffed up fluffy Khameer (left picture further below) sprinkled with Sesame seeds, two Chebabs or Emirati pancakes, all sitting on a thin, folded Muhalla which is like the South-Indian Dosaserved with Jam, Honey, Dates and Kraft Cream cheese spread. The not so drippy, thick and slightly sour tasting creamy Kraft cheese complements all the above perfectly, specially the thin crispy Muhalla when dipped into the creamy Cheese. One note of caution though – the Chebabs are slightly sour to taste.
Balateet (below) is a traditional breakfast dish and means Vermicelli in Arabic. Tasting both sweet and salty at the same time, the taste is pretty unique. Omelets cut into triangles cover up the sweet tasting, Cardamon flavored Vermicelli. Traditionally, however, eggs are whisked, beaten and scrambled very finely along with Onions, Cardamom Powder, Saffron strands and then the sweetened Vermicelli is added to the egg. The entire combo comes at Dhs 38/- and with so many frills coming in one dish, I feel this is really a steal. {My detailed blogpost… Bikers Cafe | Emirati Breakfast Followed by Emirati Desserts (Only A Bengali Desires For Desserts In An Over-filled Tummy!)}
Bikers cafe (Emirati & International)
Location: Opposite the Town Center Mall on Jumeirah Beach Road
Tel: +971 4 3493585; Email: info@bikerscafeblog.com
Or you could visit their Website; Facebook Page; Twitter
4) Chilli Meat Manakish @ Al Reef Lebanese Bakery
Manakish is a popular Syrian and Lebanese food – the Middle Eastern version of a Pizza, either eaten as slices or folded. Also known as Manaqish, Manaeesh or Manakeesh or in singular form Man’ousheh, here the dough is first rolled out flat, and little dips are created for the topping to lie in, by pressing the dough with fingertips. Though the Za’atar (Za’atar is very popular in Middle eastern cuisine, used as a sprinkler on many Arabic dishes and is prepared by using ground dried Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram etc) is the most popular topping, the other classic toppings are Cheese, minced Lamb, Kishq, Spinach etc… my absolute favourite being the ravishing Chilli Minced Meat Manakish. My recommendation is to go for extra Chilli – you can always wash down the heat with some chilled Laban drink. A big Manakish would cost from Dhs 12/ – Dhs 16/, depending upon the topping.
Al Reef Lebanese Bakery (Lebanese & Middle Eastern)
Location: Opposite the Karama Post Office on Zabeel Road (also in Al Qussais Damascus Street, opp Dubai Grand Hotel)
Tel: +971 4 3968999/+971 4 3961980; Open 24 hours
5) Halloume @Mom’s Food Restaurant & Cafe
Halloumi or Halloume or Halumi is a semi-hard Cheese which is very popular in Cyprus, Greece and the Middle East. (Originating in Cyprus, Halloume is an unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goats’ and sheep milk, and sometimes also cows’ milk It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled. No acid or acid-producing bacterium is used in its preparation). Mom’s Food as the name suggests is exactly that – the restaurant serves Mediterranean food (a bit of Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Turkish – confusing it may sound but the menu is not that elaborate – it just has a few dishes from the different types of cuisine) cooked in the way a Mom would cook at home for the family. The food lives up to the name. And the Halloume here crowns above the rest – the secret of the grilled Halloume has to be revealed by uncovering the toppings – the succulent pieces of fried marinated Lamb cubes, and served with sliced Almonds and fresh Rocca Salad tossed in Olive Oil and Lime. At Dhs 40/- for a plate of Mom’s Halloume, this is delicious food – refreshing and sumptuous with lots of greens.
Mom’s Food Restaurant and Cafe (Mediterranean)
Location: Park Island Residence, Dubai Marina
Tel: 800 6262; Opening hours: 8:00am – 2:00am daily
Or you could visit their Website; Facebook Page
6) Chilled Abood Juice @ Jumeirah Falcon Cafeteria (JFC)
In Dubai, if the branding suggests a Cafe, probably it’s a posh establishment. If it’s a Cafeteria, it might not be looked upon with the same respect, but trust me, without these cafeterias, Dubai’s artery would be choked. With instant home deliveries around the surrounding areas, the possibility of getting good something to eat (not the subways and sandwiches available at 24hours Servo petrol stations), these cafeteria cum restaurant practically feeds Dubai diners and I’m yet to come across a Dubai-ite who hasn’t stopped in one of these joints when mid-night hunger strikes. What arrests me is the mind-boggling option of juices (yes, loaded with sugar but you can ask them to make these sans sugar) made from freshest of fresh fruits. The names are even more arresting – Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, Burj Dubi etc… but the top selling and my favourite that one must taste is the chilled Abood juice. A thick juice cum shake made from Mango and Sweet Melon and topped with a scoop of Vanilla Ice cream and ice cubes. JFC has been there since a decade, and Zubair (below left) has been serving since the first time I visited the Cafeteria – at 3 am in the morning in serach of Masala chai. It’s evolved slightly in it’s get up. But to get a glimpse of it’s popularity, drive upto it at wee hours of the morning – cars standing in front honking while the staff rushes out, noting down your order and practically delivering it to your car. The right order to the right car, every time!
Jumeirah Falcon Cafeteria and Restaurant (Multi-cuisine?)
Location: Al Wasl Road after Iranian Hospital crossing if you are heading towards Satwa, Jumeirah 1
Tel: +9714 345 5540; Opening hours: 6:00am – 3:00am

Or you could visit their Facebook Page


What is Chowzter? Chowzter is dedicated to identifying the world’s tastiest fast feasts and is working with food bloggers from around the globe to find the best items in each city. The APP lists all the best local dishes at all the best local restaurants that won’t leave you bankrupt!

Available on both the Apple Store for iPhones (here) and Google Play for Android phones (here), the Chowzter APP lets you to 1) keep a journal of everything that you have eaten as well as create a wish list for the things you would like to try; 2) rate each dish and create your own top 7 favourite dishes in every Chowzter-represented city across the globe. However, it doesn’t stop you from becoming the true international foodie by compiling your own Global list of the WORLD’S greatest 7 dishes. These lists and ratings as well as user uploaded photos and comments can be shared with all your family and friends who use the APP.

Very recently, in April 28 in London, Chowzter revealed the world’s seven tastiest food items in a gala Chowzter Awards evening, as well as the top seven foodie cities. Dubai better be there soon!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Disclaimer: The opinions stated here are my own and are independent. I do hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals. Please do not use any material from this post. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.   


Other Dubai posts in my blog:

Related articles on Chowzter Awards:
Want the world’s tastiest fast feast? Head for the Story Deli in London…
Slice of the action! Bethnal Green pizza is “world’s most delicious”
Lunch Business: Want the world’s tastiest fast feast? Head for the Story Deli in London…
The Tastiest Fast Feast in the World
World’s top pizza? Forget Italy—it’s at Bethnal Green’s Story Deli

Written by IshitaUnblogged

A Culinary Travel Blog by a Bong Gourmet. From Dubai, Kolkata & the world beyond, street food to fine dining, recipes to chef talks, it pens down experiences. With 2 kids in tow!


  1. Very nice!. Ami ey patae die debo ki bhool hoyche!
    The articile is scrumptious[ meaning I am already starting to get hungry!!!]

  2. Wow I’d never heard of Chowzter thanks for sharing🙂 Agree wholeheartedly with Bu’Qtair. So glad you’ve credited the origin of halloumi to Cyprus which not many know of – we are currently applying for EU Protected Designation of Origin registration, clearly not a priority in the current turmoil! As an aside, could you please tell Chowzter that Dubai is not in Asia-Pacific😉 x

    1. Thanks FooDiva:) Chowzter is a very recently launched App. I’m introducing it to Dubai – quite thrilled about that. Actually, I’ll be honest – after I’ve met you, anything with Cypriot connection remains stuck in my brain. Are you serious about the EU thing? I shall direct your feedback regarding’ Dubai not being in Asia Pacific’ to the Chowzter authorities!

  3. Thanks for the introduction to Chowzter..A fabulous app which serves as a ready reckoner for good eats in a city. I’d agree with the Chilli meat Manakish at Al reef and the shawarmas at Automatic…ahhhh Bu Qtair I’ve yet to discover. On another note…no I-phone only BB so I suppose new phone for me to subscribe to this app?

    1. Thanks Shy for your honest feedback about the list! No, I’ve given a link for Iphones. Did you mean that you have an IPhone or you don’t have an Iphone – slightly confused there. Do get back so that I can direct your question to Chowzter, if there’s any issue.

  4. Hey Ishita…No don’t have an Iphone:( About the list…all your choices look grt..I’ve tried only Al reef and Automatic….bikers café yes…but not the Emirati brekkie…Your recos are great!!!

  5. Thank you Ishita. Great write up as always.

    A small long note: When mince meat is used, it is not called Manakeesh or Mankousheh but Lahm bel Ajeen. With or without chilli.
    The Lebanese version takes the acidity from Tomatoes and Lemon juice and the Armenian version takes the acidity from Pomegrenate Molasses. The original Armenian is Mince meat+Onions+spices+Pomegrenate Molasses+pine kernels.
    The Lebanese mince meat color is light grey and the Armenian one is dark Maduro grey.

    For the record, Manakeesh is originally Lebanese and crossed the borders to Syria around early 80’s. Manakeesh original recipe is strictly Zaatar. This was followed by cheese, which was followed by different types of cheese namely Kashkawan Mankousheh, which is delectable. This was followed by Labneh and white blank Mankousheh.

    The most popular today are the Zaatar and Cheese and the Labneh+Zaatar+Tomatoes+olives+fresh Mint leaves.
    Please do try them both or allowed me to invite you to try them. These are the Lebanese little off-menu refinements.
    If you are ordering at Al Reef, please ask for a Mashroukha, which is a larger open and sliced Mankousheh, but as it is open baked like a pizza, it is crispier and more vicious. It should be consumed at the place on the small round tables and does not travel well. Enjoy.

    B2B and others introduced different toppings but it is by no way mainstream.

    Thank you

  6. That was a delicious post … And also thank you so much for sharing information about Chowzter. It will be so much easier for us to find the nearby restaurant with the help of smart phone.

What do you have to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s