Sallet al Sayad

This new Arabic seafood restaurant adds to the range of budget choices in Karama. Newly opened in Karama, Sallet al Sayad, which means ‘the fisherman’s basket’ in Arabic, is (unsurprisingly) an Arabic-style seafood restaurant. With a display of iced, whole fish and seafood at the front of the restaurant, diners can choose their specimen and cooking method before tucking in. Stepping inside, the restaurant offered dark, plain brown interiors, which were fairly unexciting aside from the large fish tank in the centre of the room. We started by browsing the display counter. While the choice was modest (which is by no means a bad sign in terms of freshness) the selection was varied, with large shrimp, whole crab and whole fish such as unsustainable species hammour (disappointingly), red snapper, sultan Ibrahim, seabream and shaari. While the waitress was friendly and had a very helpful attitude, we struggled to make a selection from some of the advice she offered. She seemed for some time unable to tell us which species the ‘frozen fish fillet’ was (although we did finally get the answer: hammour). Holding up something that looked very much like a large clam, she explained that this was an oyster. She was able to offer the local, Arabic names of the whole fish (as they appear on the menu), but it was only once the Jordanian manager appeared that we were able to have an English translation. Of the brief list of cooking methods (fried, Mexican temodor, spicy) smoked with lemon and garlic seemed the most exciting, although it was unclear from our discussion with the staff what we could possibly opt for to suit this cooking style. Still, the spirit of service was certainly willing and the impression was that we should trust them rather than choose. So, with guidance, we opted for a whole seabream and some large shrimp, both charcoal grilled. We also chose a couple of mezze from the appetiser list to start. Before either mezze or fish arrived, the table was swiftly weighed down by complimentary bites and condiments; olives, pickles, fresh salad leaves, lemon wedges, tahini, chilli dip and garlic aioli. Soon after the mezze arrived. The baba ganoush had a beautifully intense smokiness to it, yet still with a light, fresh edge to the flavour, which we mopped up with excellent hot, fluffy and crispy flat breads. The fatoush, made with a classic mix of fried bread, tomato, cucumber, bell peppers and lettuce, was exceptionally well dressed, with a lovely balance between tangy sourness and a molasses-like caramel depth. The seabream and shrimps arrived promptly afterwards. The flesh of the seabream was deliciously moist, suggesting that it was both very fresh and that just the right amount of cooking time had been applied (and no more). It was also very flavoursome, with a very slight touch of sweetness, heat, lemon and garlic all combined in moderation to make a great dish. The shrimps were also good, equally well cooked under the charcoal and well dressed with the same marinade, although not quite as enjoyable, since they lacked the same quality of vivid, bursting freshness as the seabream. We’d eaten well, and could easily have ordered and eaten more, since the food was highly enjoyable and once the bill came, we were pleasantly surprised at how affordable it was. I’d like to see Sallet al Sayad take hammour off the menu, and brief its waitresses better on what’s available. Then, despite the less-than-inspiring decor, I could happily say it is an excellent new option for budget seafood in Dubai. The bill (for two) 1x baba ganouj Dhs14 1x fatoush Dhs14 1x seabream Dhs51 1x shrimps Dhs25 1x large mineral water Dhs7 Total (excluding service) Dhs112

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