Reviewed: 5 unique iftar experiences in Dubai this Ramadan

Food

If you live in Dubai, or anywhere else in the GCC for that matter, you’ll know that the Arabian-style buffet is massively popular during iftar. But what if you wanted to try something a little more unique this season? We’ve got the lowdown on some of the more unusual dining offerings this Ramadan.

1. MASTI @ LA MER, DUBAI

UAE_Ramadan iftar_Masti at La Mer

Photos of this collage courtesy of Masti Dubai.

Ever since it opened, this new(ish) modern Indian restaurant has positioned itself as an “Instagrammable” spot not just in terms of décor but also for the inventive dishes it offers. The restaurant’s debut iftar offers a set menu selection of some of its signature dishes, including the obligatory lentil soup, curry-spiced in this instance. The meal involves a steady procession of dishes being brought to the table, with highlights including an edamame chaat with flash-frozen yoghurt crackers, matchstick “masti” fries topped with a curry gravy, biryani with crispy kale raita, the spiced brisket bao sandwich (mmmm!) and a delightful “lotus” tiramisu.

UAE_Ramadan iftar_Masti at La Mer_dessert

Photo courtesy of Masti Dubai.

Quirk factor: The creative fusion dishes are as fun as they are filling. You get to enjoy a six-course meal that is modern, innovative and, true to the restaurant’s name, a little bit mischievous.

Price? AED 150 per person

www.mastidubai.com

2. RAMADAN NIGHT’S BY DISH @ WAREHOUSE FOUR, AL QUOZ

UAE_Ramadan iftar_Ramadan Night’s by Dish

Photo courtesy of Ramadan Night’s by Dish

We heart this so much. Back for another year, the UAE-based catering and events company Dish hosts a lovely laidback iftar where it’s all about breaking bread together. Set in a warehouse space lit by fairy lights, the iftar comprises three courses, aptly titled “Beginning”, “Middle” and “End”. Each table is served a series of plates to share, with appetisers including spiced carrot, lentil and saffron soup, roasted garlic hummus and grilled flatbread with burnt eggplant. The most unique one was, without a doubt, the cured sea bass with freekeh tabbouleh, pickled lemon, fennel and zaatar. Fish shouldn’t work during iftar, but it’s so light and non-salty that it does.

For the mains, we sampled corn-fed chicken koftas along with roast pumpkin with coriander labneh, and mixed greens with a mustard and coriander seed dressing. But the showstopper goes to the slow-braised lamb shoulder in Middle Eastern spices with rice. That’s a must-try!

Leave room for dessert, as the “sundae” of pistachio sponge, raspberry sorbet, mascarpone, fresh berries, rose, luqaimat and pistachio praline is an absolute delight.

UAE_Ramadan iftar_Ramadan Night’s by Dish_dessert

A delightful dessert at Ramadan Night's by Dish. Photo by Rachel McArthur.

Quirk factor: The spot resembles a gorgeous garden setting. And yes, due to the warm weather, it’s indoors.  

Price? AED 195 per person

www.dish.ae/ramadan-nights

3. CAFE BATEEL @ MULTIPLE LOCATIONS AROUND THE GCC

UAE_Ramadan iftar_Bateel

Photo courtesy of Cafe Bateel

When it comes to iftar, this laidback eatery offers a refreshing change of pace. The four-course menu offers a lot of choices, and they’re all light and healthy. The quinoa and chickpea soup is a hearty concoction, served in just the right portion, leaving space for salads and mains. The mushroom risotto we had was creamy but light, and you can feel the crunch of the Umbrian grains. The dish of the day, however, had to be the “Qahwa” (Arabic coffee) ice cream, a flavourful end to a wholesome meal.

UAE_Ramadan iftar_Bateel_Qahwa Ice Cream

Photo courtesy of Cafe Bateel

Quirk factor: From ingredients to cooking techniques, every dish is a healthier alternative to what you will find on buffet-laden tables, complemented with signature Bateel dates.

Price? AED 120 per person

www.bateel.com

4. FLOATING IFTAR @ THE QUEEN ELIZABETH 2

UAE_Ramadan iftar_Queen Elizabeth II

Photo courtesy of Queen Elizabeth 2, UAE

Yup, you read that right. The newly opened luxury ship-turned-hotel, The QE2 – located at Port Rashid – is hosting an Arabian majlis, where a ‘floating iftar’ is offered. So called, because you’re obviously on the ship on water!

Here, the fare doesn’t go far from the traditional, so expect the usual Middle Eastern-inspired essentials, such as kibbeh, hummus, lamb and rice and Umm Ali. Whilst the food is nothing to write home about, the floating iftar is one of those ‘got to do once’ experiences that would be especially exciting for family or friends visiting from out of town. 

UAE_Ramadan iftar_Queen Elizabeth II

Photo of The QE2's Ramadan iftar buffet spread taken by writers at the event.

Quirk factor: You’re on a ship!

Price? AED 250 per person

www.qe2.com

5. AL HADHEERAH RAMADAN TENT @ BAB AL SHAMS DESERT RESORT AND SPA

UAE_Ramadan iftar_Al Hadheerah Ramadan Tent

Photo courtesy of Al Hadheerah Ramadan Tent, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa, UAE

It’s about an hour’s drive away from the city and feels like the middle of nowhere, but that’s part of the charm. The atmosphere is almost carnival-like, with stalls offering souvenirs and experiences like henna. There’s entertainment in the form of music and dance and a live show that takes you back in time to the time of horse-and-camel caravans. Food-wise, in addition to the traditional staples, you can also enjoy different cuisines: Emirati, Egyptian, Moroccan, Indian and Iranian, to name a few, not to mention the Turkish ice-cream man’s antics.  

UAE_Ramadan iftar_Al Hadheerah Ramadan Tent

Photo courtesy of Al Hadheerah Ramadan Tent, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa, UAE

Quirk factor: Dinner with a show. Need we say more?

Price? From AED 265 per person

(Writing by Sudeshna Ghosh, Rachel McArthur, Umaima Tinwala; Editing by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@thomsonreuters.com)

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