Al Makan

When the opportunity arose to sample true local dishes in one of Dubai’s prettiest locations, I jumped at the chance. Well-established and situated in the heart of the tourist-friendly Madinat Jumeirah, Al Makan is one of those spots you’ve probably wandered past numerous times without ever realising it offers authentic local food. I kicked things off with yarish soup, a combination of crushed wheat and vegetables that tasted strangely comforting and homely. It wasn’t quite the foreign experience I was expecting – I could have easily pictured it coming from my own mother’s kitchen. My date, meanwhile, ordered the Al Makan salad, which turned out to be a basic mix of fresh tomatoes and garlic, spring onions and olive oil. While it was light and refreshing, it was also a dish we assumed was from the Mediterranean, rather than the Emirati section of the menu. So far, no surprises, and we headed curiously onto the mains. We opted for the chicken biryani (the more exotic-sounding arayssia chicken was off the menu) and the faga fish. Each came with ladles of yellow rice and carrots, with both the chicken and hammour served breaded. While the fish was a little chewy, the chicken was juicy and tender. Both dishes, however, were actually most notable for their simplicity. Perhaps the desserts would be more of a revelation? I opted for khabeesa, a sizzling mix of cooked nuts and brown sugar that was startlingly sweet, if a little dry. My date bravely dipped into the aseedat bobar, a pumpkin puree laced with cardamom which, though rather unusual in both texture and colour, was a pleasant, gooey surprise. Al Makan’s setting is stunning. It is nestled near the Burj al Arab and the Madinat Amphitheatre, and positioned soothingly near a bubbling fountain. The service is also extremely attentive, and the waiters are happy to recommend. While the Emirati dishes aren’t astounding, the restaurant is both reasonably priced and scenic – a combination that’s rare for anywhere serving local food. For those bent on filling up on national dishes, Al Makan makes a sweet spot in which to do it. The bill (for two) 1x Yarish soup Dhs22 1x Al Makan salad Dhs24 1x Chicken biryani Dhs48 1x Faga fish Dhs52 1x Khabissa Dhs14 1x Assidat boubar Dhs16 Total (excluding service) Dhs176

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