As I previously pointed out in my Making Sense of Dubai Mall Culture post, I knew nothing of Dubai prior to visiting. This was no different when it came to the food. I had a hard enough time imagining what the food in Turkey would be like but was pleasantly surprised there. This lead me to think that Dubai would be no different.
Silly Shaun, time for an education.
Dubai eats are expensive
The first thing I learned out about Dubai eats is that the food in the UAE is expensive. “Shocking” said no one except me. This shouldn’t have been a surprise when the city is all about luxury. Because of this and the mall culture we found ourselves eating at food courts… a lot. Normally I would be disappointed with this situation as I love eating what locals eat when visiting a new country, but by this point in our journey I was ready for a taste of home… just a taste though.
Also to keep our Dubai eats cheap we snacked on things such as these ketchup chips – not just a Canadian thing after all! We also ate at our hotels included breakfast spread each morning even though it was really bad. Neorion it wasn’t.
Dubai Eats are not fresh
Another reason why Dubai Eats are pricey is the fact that over 80% of food in the UAE is imported. Again, this shouldn’t come as a surprise when the country is covered in sand. We really noticed this at our hotel breakfast and when we ate outside of the food court. We ended up at a tourist trap restaurant on the Dubai Creek one day because we were hungry and it had a great patio. I went looking for a more traditional meal but like many of the other tourists that flocked there, we found mediocre food with a great view. Made it worth while I suppose.
So What Dubai Eats are local?
There was talk of stuffed camel, and shwarma but I didn’t readily see this anywhere. This doesn’t mean they don’t exist and I certainly didn’t go out of my way looking for them. Of course there are world class restaurants in Dubai (allegedly) but the menu prices were too much for this travel bloggers budget. Instead I asked where locals eat to which I was told the malls. Makes sense with the mall culture and high heat. When questioned where all the immigrant workers eat I was told that Dubai has really good and really cheap Indian food. For some reason in my mind this equated to great Indian food at a nice restaurant. Instead of searching out one of these cheap places we splurged and ate at a high end place in the Dubai Mall. Although the food was really good, the atmosphere was off. Super modern, funky, and over all trying way too hard for what the food is. Could be my taste but it was over-the-top for some butter chicken and naan.
What Dubai Eats would I go back for?
The best sweet Dubai eats we had was at the Malaysian chain Papparoti…in the Dubai mall. These crispy golden buns are amazing and was completely new to me. Turns out there is over 400 locations world wide…including the brand new location in Vancouver.
Possibly the best thing I put in my face while in Dubai was a hookah. We had a great night people watching over a couple beers and sweet apple shisha. We liked it so much we end up buying a small pipe and shipping it back.
At the end of the day the UAE is not a foodie paradise. It has hot heat, sandy beaches, and mind blowing feats of engineering around every corner, but fresh and unique Dubai eats it does not. There are great meals to be had (allegedly) if you are willing to pay and there is amazing Indian food (supposedly) everywhere. Besides that it is food court Dubai eats for you.
Good thing Dubai has a mall or two.