Over the years, I’ve been asked frequently to share few of my budget eat options in Dubai and the neighboring Emirates. Although I’ve always been vocal and never typed out my experience and after years of persuasion, I have decided to do a roundup of all my inexpensive outlets which I have had the pleasure of dining at for years or just recent discoveries, all in the heart of Dubai (or Sharjah, soon!) in hundred words or less.
You say Ravi’s, I say Karachi Darbar! The rivalry between the two is well-known, as KD is constantly masked by the popularity shadow of Ravi’s, thus on par with serving quality and satisfactory desi (Pakistani + Indian) cuisine. KD serves up similar dishes with heavy use of flavorsome ingredient’s maintaining the original flavor which satisfies the taste buds. The hearty greasiness of the mutton kadai, chicken mughali (an egg based gravy) with oven fresh rotis makes up for a budget experience with lassi (yogurt based drink) calming the spice factor.
90s Dubai had limited breakfast options and overnight (well, not overnight per say) Venus came along to tickle and satisfy Dubai’s South Indian breakfast cravings. Present, Venus caters that quality breakfast it once did, as my childhood memory still replays the Friday morning drive from Sharjah to Dubai for crispy vadas and fluff idils with fragrant sambar and coconut chutney along with my favorite, Mangalore buns paired with filter coffee. Venus draws a crowd each Friday, so be warned of prior waiting time, albeit short but worth it.
There’s joy in eating from a banana leaf that rebels from the norm of ceramic and porcelain plate dining. At Appa Kadai, I crave for the lunch meal (mainly chicken) which covers all the essentials of a hearty South Indian lunch. Nearly eight to ten items make up the lunch meal, that’s great value for money. For an added cost, one can try appams, essentially one of the many items Aappa Kadai perfects.
A hole in the wall, budget friendly Indonesian cuisine that is welcoming with its homey set up and a menu limited to, and primarily catering traditional Indonesian cuisine served as healthy sharable portions. Go for a quick fix of nasi goring, nasi pedang or the opor ayam (chicken served in lush coconut broth). The satay dish, possibly the most raved about, is heavily laden with a thick and dark homemade sauce coating the skewered chicken. The mains are accompanied with crackers and Indonesian rice for an ultimate and super satisfactory meal.
Did you know there’s more than 100 way to cook an egg? Yes, an egg. Raju Omlet operates as an all-day egg dining restaurant with the menu heavily influenced by eggs made primarily as scrambled, boiled, shredded or half-boiled made with regional Indian ingredients with a touch of Arabic influence. How about an egg tikka masala to tantalize the taste buds with buttery pav or the popular power omelet? Pair the egg feast with karak chai or jeera chass (yogurt drink with cumin). Overall, an eggcellent experience!
A feast of magnitude proportions in shape of a thali. What’s a thali you ask? Thali is what vegetarians dream about, as the endless (unlimited) servings of what typical includes rice, dal, variety of vegetables, roti, papad, and yogurt is the ultimate vegetarian paradise. The impeccable service at Maharaja Bhog is one to rave about, as the meal begins as soon as one is seated and ends till you’ve had your feast. The thail is strictly vegetarian with the meal plan changing daily, thus a surprise for frequent diners to discover.
Seafood In A Bucket
Ever have food served or eaten from buckets, mason jars, plastics bags and cups? Well, at Seafood in a Bucket you can experience all that in one setting. The menu is limited to boiled seafood with simplistic ingredients or a quick fry up, all accompanied with choice of dipping sauce which serves as the main flavor component with complimentary ‘bags’ of rice, bucket of crackers and to complete the meal, options for sides are available. Go for the prawns, calamari, fish with garlic and butter sauce as well as the massive mason jar drinks made from cordial flavors.
Mandi, Madhbi and Madfoon is the ultimate rice and meat feast one can have on an empty stomach and at Cabrito Mandi, you’ll experience just that. The crusty caramalization and subtle spice of the meat or the chicken paired with the glistening flavor induced rice provide well needed comfort to curb your hunger. The tenderness of the lamb cooked in an oven specially designed for the purpose of the meat cooking for hours and hours, to achieve the perfect tenderness to tear apart. Enjoy the feast with lentil soup and spicy red salsa for that added flavor to the dish.
Xiao Fei Yang
I was introduced to the simmering pot of stock, center of table by my dear friend and blogger Anna B. of Lipstick Locker. As the steam from the boiling stock rose, so did my excitement and as a hot-pot newbie, I completely relied on Anna, the veteran hotpot-ess for guidance. I tasted usual and unusual eats (black fungus and prawn balls, ftw), as we added the ingredients to the half portion of spicy stock and mild stock and watched our dinner cook right in front of our eyes. The accompanying assortment of sauces elevated the taste as we dined in what seemed as an authentic hangout for the Chinese residents in Dubai.