Seoul Eats: Dubai Restaurant Review

Monday, August 03, 2009

Dubai Restaurant is in the heart of Itaewon above the Dunkin Donuts.
Here is a waitress serving the Dubai Kebap.
Dubai Restaurant has a spacious interior with large selection of shisa hookas.
Dubai Restaurant's Hummus is the best I've had in Seoul.
Here is Dubai Restaurant's Mazza with Humma, Baba Ghanoush, and their homemade yogurt.
Dubai Restaurant Review
by Dan Gray

I have a rule about ethnic restaurants: the staff should eat the food that the restaurant serves. If you see empty bowls of Ja Ja Myeon outside of your authentic "Italian" or "Thai" restaurant then it often means that the cooks don't have a taste for the food they serve. This is not the case with Dubai Restaurant in Itaewon. It was built by Arab people for Arab people.

Dubai Restaurant sits in the heart of Itaewon across from Helios on the main drag and they make food that they-and their clientele- like to eat. You will not see kimchi on the menu, they use spices like cardamon or baharat-which might seem alien to some, they don't serve alcohol, and they use all Halal meats.

The first time I went was with my friend Rami from Yemen. He recommended the hummus and the shisa at this restaurant. He is a regular that goes to Dubai Restaurant several times a week to get hummus and bread for dinner. The hummus is a light, airy paste that is lightly flavored with garlic, tahini, lemon, and olive oil. This was wonderful with the light fluffy bread (1,000 each) it was served with for dipping. I can safely say this is some of the best hummus in the city. A perfect appetizer to start with is the Mazza (W9,000) because it comes with Baba Ganoush, Hummus, and their creamy and tart homemade yogurt.

Dubai has several entree specialties that I would recommend. I'm a fan of their Kabsa Lamb (W13,000). It has tender chunks of lamb in with basmati rice, caramon, turmeric, lemon, and tomato. It's a subtle dish; so if you need a bit of spice, ask for some and they'll bring out their housemade hot pepper paste. Their Menazela (12,000) with slowly cooked eggplant and lamb in tomato sauce is excellent as well. My favorite was the Dubai Kebab (W15,000)that had seasoned minced lamb in a Arabic tomato sauce with rice. One of these days, I will have to try the Dubai Royal Mixed Grill (W80,000). It has 2 lamb steaks, 2 shish kebabs, 2 chicken escalope, 1 lamb brochette, and 1 chicken brochette.

Dubai is not the fanciest restaurant on the main drag, so if you are looking to impressive someone there are other places that fit that profile. But if you are looking for a comfortable atmosphere to have a meal and a conversation then this is the place to go.

Dubai Restaurant ** (2 stars)
02-798-9277
Itaewon Exit 3. It's above the Dunkin Don

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