Oh my goodness… what a gem! In 3 hours, 44 minutes and 7 seconds, Arva, the Chief Executive Muncher at Frying Pan Adventures, gave us the best mystery food & cultural tour of ‘old’ Dubai, making us curious to revisit a part of the city that we hadn’t dived into in years.
The mini bus promptly collected us from our pick up point at 6.45pm, and after whipping around the corner to the Armani Hotel to grab the last guest, we were on our way to deepest, darkest Deira! A part of the city we say we always love to visit for a bit of ‘real time’, but the reality is we never bother…. excuses usually come in the form of time & traffic, but we’re been saying that since 1999 when you could get across town in 10 minutes. Naughty us.
Enroute, we all introduced ourselves and told tales of our last favourite meal. The chat continued as we left the glitz of Downtown Dubai and DIFC behind us and crossed over to the other side via Maktoum Bridge (in what we hate to say was under 15 minutes!). Our first stop was to taste some seriously impressive falafels at Sultan Dubai Falafel in Al Rigga….
2. – 6. Sultan Dubai Falafel – not a bad place to start at all….
After having a sneak peek at the Falafel’s being made, we sat in the Qwaider Al Nabulsi restaurant and sampled the best falafel’s we had ever tasted (Image 6 above being made) and then we were presented with something a little sweeter… Kunafa – a dessert pie made of either cheese or cream with a vermicelli-like base. This is one heavy dish (but that didn’t stop us from munching away).
Arva has a great method of helping you pace yourself on this foodie marathon. Before you enter each restaurant she advises what percentage of fullness you should be feeling by the end of that particular snack stop. We knew we were in trouble when she mentioned something along the lines of 15% after Stop No 1 (with another 3 plus stops to go we were already at 90% tummy stretching capacity).
7. Kunafa – it tastes as rich and as more-ish as it looks!
After all the chat regarding sweets and sweet types, Arva did a little detour to show us her favourite childhood bakery – Al Samadi Sweets. We refrained from too much taste testing here (those percentages had us scared!) but these sweet little delights are so pretty!
8. – 13. Al Samadi Sweets. One of Arva’s favourite childhood haunts and we could see why.
We then jumped back on the bus and made our way to Al Baghdadi Home Restaurant for some Masgoof and what a treat! This place is worth visiting just to see the crazy ovens they use to cook the carp in, although we have to say the food was rather tasty as well (we seemed to be able to push the boundaries of our bellies to the limit…)
14. – 16. The impressive oven used to cook the carp at Baghdadi Home Restaurant – we were crazy enough to nip into the oven itself to take some snaps. 17. – 20. Enjoying this traditional Iraqi dish.
Al Tawasol Restaurant was our next stop on this monster food tour. This Yemani restaurant had atmosphere, with the group getting comfy in one of the secluded majlis areas. Perched on the floor, Arva tried to teach us the basics of eating with your hands – which was easier said then done!
21. – 25. Al Tawasol Restaurant – a Yemani experience and a half. 26. Arva blasting the Majlis with an oud like incense at the end of our eating experience (or so we thought…)
Just as our brains were finally catching up with our full bellies, Arva took us around the corner to Abshar Restaurant. This Iranian eatery was jam packed with punters enjoying the food and the entertainment on offer. After checking out their fab bread ovens we sat down and had dessert, yes, more food! But the Faloodeh dish was so good, we seemed to find a little space to eat the whole thing!
27. – 28. Abshar Restaurant’s bread oven. 29. Little Majed sampling the Faloodeh – an Iranian version of sorbet or granita. 31. Arva, the super-star foodie, presenting us with our Food Marathon Certificate of Achievement…. 32. And if you were still hungry, this little box contained a treat of camel milk chocolate and other arabic sweets (and no, we didn’t eat it in the bus on the way home).
Whether you live in Dubai or are visiting, we highly recommend scheduling in one of the numerous Frying Pan Mystery Dinner Tours. We are already trying to work out when we can fit the Bur Dubai tour in. Not only did Arva introduce us to some fantastic new foodie experiences but she taught us so much about the culture surrounding the food and the history of the region.
Thanks Arva – we look forward to seeing you again soon!