The Dubai Diaries: Al Shami Restaurant

Located at: Al Muraqqabat Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Visited on: 28 Oct, 2017

This is the place I think of when I’m not in Dubai and crave shawarma. One chicken shawarma and two falafels with some tahini sauce make for quite a happy meal for me. Al Shami is no fancy restaurant, but neat and spacious with indoor and outdoor dining. We usually take away from here, so the picture below is one of my plate, half-way through my sandwich. As the prices of shawarma have soared and/or size has declined at most places across the UAE (from AED 2 per sizeable shawarma about 20 years ago to plus or minus of AED 6 per smaller shawarma today), this place has maintained a consistent level of quality since we first bought food from there. Which was not too long ago, to be honest, but consistency over about seven years in this “trade”, if I may call it so, is considerably noteworthy of mention.

Al Shami’s shawarma doesn’t come in your conventional pita bread. It’s more like a crisper hybrid between pita and tortilla bread. Nice and thin, on the verge of flaky if it were to be toasted anymore. Their Chicken Shawarma Sandwich (AED 6 for the small sandwich) has a generous stuffing of seasoned chicken, which is well balanced out with some pickled gherkin, a few fries and some garlic-tahini like mayo. Moist, succulent, good stuff. Not overwhelmed by the chicken although present in a substantial amount. And the bread is so light that it lets you enjoy the taste of the filling while complementing it. Ofcourse they also give a platter of veggies (carrot and cucumber sticks) and pickles (radish and gherkin).

(Clockwise from top) Chicken Shawarma, Falafel and Tahini Sauce

Their Falafel (AED 1 for two pieces – also a victim of inflation over the years) has always been beautifully crisp, and rarely too oily. We usually start munching on these in the car itself, as soon as we receive our order. The ground chickpea filling has a nice earthy flavour, enhanced by the sesame seeds incorporated into the outer covering – which also gives it an extra crunch. Dip this in their tahini sauce (made from ground sesame seeds), and it’s a wonderful mix of earthy flavours and textures in your mouth. There have been only a couple of occasions that their tahini has been too runny. It’s always usually just the right viscosity to dunk your falafel and have it coated generously without dripping half of it off on the way to your mouth – a statement of their consistency. Oh, and they also serve you a cup of their cool and refreshing date-tamarind drink to sip on in the car while you wait for your order.

I guess one of the things about being a Dubai (or Middle East) kid is that there’s a sort of tendency to go around looking for shawarma. And by that I mean good shawarma. You set the bar kind of high and then when you make a decent find, you don’t tire of it too soon. Which is probably why I’m always delighted to see a parcel of Al Shami shawarmas come all the way to Sri Lanka. (Yes, this happens occasionally. And no, I’m not sharing.) If any of you jet-setters ever happen to try this, I can assure you that keeping it in the freezer for a few hours prior to your flight preserves it well. And about 15-20 minutes in the oven (160-180oC) prior to consumption makes it, I’d say, pretty much as good as new – the bread (as I mentioned earlier on) just becomes a little crisper and slightly flaky. Comfort food. Always a happy place.

Yummy Rating: 4.0 / 5.0

Al Shami Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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