Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe – Authentic Emirati Cuisine
Town Center Jumeirah Branch
It is imperative to the success of a country on how successful it is also to preserve and cultivate its own identity.
I have read a lot of Dubai and UAE’s rich history and I have been to its historic places and museums depicting the lives of the Emirati long before its oil boom. One of the things I have noticed is how consistent the Emiratis are, in keeping their identity in place. Like how they’re doing it with food.
Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe in Town Center Jumeirah, the newest addition to the first and only Emirati cuisine restaurant in Dubai, is among of the manifestations.
T’was sunny yet cold and windy early afternoon when we arrived at the restaurant. From its main entrance to its rustic semblance inside, right away, it brought us back to an olden impression of Dubai and the UAE, which was indeed classic!
A table for two reserved for us, near the window, facing the wavily Arabian Gulf just right across Jumeirah Beach Road and the rich blue skies over Mercato on the other side. So refreshing. Once seated, another refreshing welcome received from one of the staff, are the golden brown sweet dates glazed with peanut butter sauce. A traditional Emirati and Arabic hospitality. While munching, we then made our orders.
For soup, my wife had the Shorabat Akalat Bahreiah which is actually a seafood soup while I had the Shorabat Adas, a lentil soup. For our appetizer, we had the Naghar Mashwi, a grilled squid with fresh sliced tomatoes, onions, lemon and spinach. For our mains, my wife had the Samak Mashwi or grilled sea bream while I had the Saloona Laham Badaweyah or the mutton stew.
While waiting for our orders, I made a quick tour around the restaurant. My wife remained seated while also busy taking snaps all over. Myself on the other end, felt the true UAE setting from what I was seeing. The neatly arranged fine wood tables and chairs, the well-kept old picture frames and other antiquities in the alleys. There’s this area where you can see merchandises as well, like spices, herbs, and small artifacts.
But one thing that made my quick tour worthwhile is when I saw this fat hen perched in one of the branches of the tree in the middle part of the restaurant. Now, I would like to challenge you on how quickly you could spot this hen on your visit soon. 🙂 A’right?!
But you might ask why Al Fanar? It’s the Arabic term for an old kerosene lamp commonly used before, to light their houses. You can see them hanging too, everywhere inside the restaurant.
Back in our table, our hot Shorabat was served. Before I was able to start my first sip, my wife then made its initial yet resounding “yummy” assessment. We both sipped on our rich, creamy and hearty soups and finished them just moments before our appetizer came. It was the chewy, a little bit dry but yummy grilled squids.
I was a bit bemused to see how big the bowl is for my mutton stew but then I ceased to mind it and that what I had to worry are the 3 chunks of mutton in there. The stew on the other hand was made complete with the steamy basmati rice; although you can also have flat bread instead as your side. The mutton was so tender and rich with flavour that is new to my palate yet very much indulging especially with its lemony taste.
My wife was busy gnawing her grilled sea bream. “Rightfully cooked and rightfully seasoned with rock salt and is perfect with my basmati rice,” she said. There’s this flavorful tomato dip too which blends to the grilled fish so well. I did have a taste of her sea bream, and I could taste the freshness and the natural flavor of the fish. I’d be ordering that in our next visit soon, that is for sure and I’d recommend to include it in your orders too.
To finish our meal, we had Luqaimat or sweet dumplings, which took a bit longer to come as they still have to prepare it from scratch before frying them. We initially wanted only half of it considering that we are both stuffed, but good thing we still pushed for the full serving because we relished all of it and what’s just left are the dates syrup on the plate. We say, the wait is worth it. We got hot, fresh, tasty, and crispy yet tender Luqaimat.
From its well crafted setting depicting the Olden Dubai, to its courteous staff, delicious and authentic Emirati and Arabian cuisine, our experience at Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe suggests a more frequent visits soon! A whopping 9.5 out of 10. The reasonable price that they have serves as the deciding factor.
Unofficially, I’d say, this restaurant completes all the elements needed to the preservation and cultivation of the Emirati culture. With this as the newest addition to its sister branches in Dubai Festival City and Ritz Carlton in Abu Dhabi, another one will open soon in the Emirate of Al Ain.
All of the branches except Abu Dhabi, are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more info and location, please visit their website.
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