I’ve always loved my Baba Ghanouj and my Sheesh Tauks with a passion, but since turning pescetarian (vegetarian with a sea food exception), I’ve been very worried about being able enjoy one of my favorite cuisines- Arabic food! What I just found out is that vegetarian and/or pescetarian Arabic food can be a real delight, while dining at Al Mashrbia, an authentic Arabic cuisine restaurant, at Millennium Plaza Hotel, Dubai.
The setting and ambiance is quiet and sophisticated, while the décor reflects a distinct Arabic influence – I particularly loved the welcome table with a traditional tea set-up for guests. I also liked the flower arrangement in the colors of the Emirati flag – very creative!
Although I’m quite familiar with Arabic food, having lived in Dubai for more than four years now, there was quite a few ‘firsts’ for me at Al Mashrbia. The date dip was a revelation of sorts, which came in as a side for the freshly baked local bread and the staple zaatar- labneh. The date dip was much like Nutella spread in consistency but while it was sweet, it had a very prominent taste of its own, with no added artificial flavoring or sugar! I made a mental note to always order the date dip on my next Arabic food binge.
The second round of appetizers included the crowd pleasers – Tabuleh, the zesty salad, Hummus and my personal favorite, Mutabbal (eggplant based cold appetizer). I must say, the later is exceptionally good at this restaurant and is highly recommended, coming from a person who orders Mutabbal almost everywhere in Dubai.
I was a bit spoilt for choice when it came to the main course and simply couldn’t decided between a grilled platter of sea food or a traditional prawn biryani made with traditional Arabic spices. The menu is quite extensive with a lot to offer, especially for non vegetarians but also for veggies and diet-watchers. I finally opted for the prawn biryani, which quite simply put, was nothing like anything I’ve tasted before. Unexpected, inventive and absolutely delicious- it would be a crime not to try it atleast once here.
Yet another first was a traditional Arabic dessert called Lougimat or Logimat which were these little doughballs, meant to be dipped into a sweet date syrup. Very sweet and super filling- just how I like my dessert!
Overall, Al- Mashrbia scores very high on quality of food and variety in Arabic cuisine. Best mutabbal till date and unbelievable Prawn biryani! At approximately AED 300- 350 for two people, I’d call it value for money. It does have a conservative ambience and no alcohol is served since it’s a traditional restaurant, but I’d most definitely recommend it for anyone who wants an authentic Arabic gourmet experience- ideal for bringing out-of towners and friends.