Last Friday saw us craving for some good, authentic Arabic grub and the first place that came to mind was Pharaoh Cafe & Restaurant, the newest addition to the restaurant offerings at Arabian Courtyard & Spa, Dubai.
We were invited to the launch of the restaurant, and were totally in awe of the stunning Egyptian-themed ambiance overlooking the Dubai Museum. If you missed my earlier post, please do have a browse of how gorgeous this restaurant looks by clicking here.
We started off our dinner at Pharaoh Cafe & Restaurant with a serving of tangy Moutabel.
Moutabel is a popular Arabic dip made of grilled aubergine. Most places drown the sheer freshness and simplicity of the aubergine in big lashings of tahini (sesame) paste, but the one we were served here had none of that. The Moutabel at Pharaoh Cafe & Restaurant was brimming with the flavors of aubergine and tangy lemon, and we cleared the bowl with massive scoops of khubz (Arabic pita bread).
One of my husband’s favorite Arabic dishes is Arayes, so when he saw it on under the ‘Hot Appetizers’ menu, there was no stopping him.
Arayes is Arabic pita bread stuffed with minced meat. The meat filling was soft and succulent, and mildly spiced. The portions were a little tricky to handle as the bread was falling off the meat. This is a definite must-try for carnivores!
With a generous helping of fries on the side, this ‘appetizer’ can easily graduate to a main course, and the serving portion is enough for two, maybe even three, adults.
An Arabic meal cannot be had without a few pickles on the side. I think I finished most of this platter of olives all by myself!
For our round of mains, we went for the Mixed Grill and the Mediterranean Beef Stew.
The Mixed Grill came sizzling to the table, and consisted of an assortment of meaty grills including shish touk, lamb chops and a chicken kebab.
The lamb chops were our favorite from this platter. The meat was beautifully marinated, and cooked to perfection. With only two pieces on the platter, I wish there was more!
The Mediterranean Beef Stew is an authentic Egyptian beef and potato stew cooked in a tomato gravy. It is served with Egyptian rice, and a deep-fried khubz completes the garnish.
This is a hearty, moreish gravy that would go down beautifully on a cold winter’s night. There is something homely about this dish. It reminds me of the simple day to day cooking from my mother’s kitchen, and we loved mopping up the goodness in that lightly salted Egyptian rice.
For dessert, I decided to try out the ‘Chef’s Specialty’; the Cardamom Cheesecake.
This is not your traditional cheesecake per-say. To begin with, I missed the traditional biscuit crumb crust I expect to get with this dessert. In its place was a plain sponge cake that was topped with a dense mousse. The mousse was accentuated with the mild heat of cardamom, which I believe takes an acquired taste to devour.
This is not to say the dessert was an overall fail. If this dessert was served to me by another name (say ‘Cardamom Cream Pudding’), I would have liked it far better. Try it out if you like a hint of spice in your dessert, but remember this is a mousse, not a cheesecake!
Hubby went with the fruits platter, which turned out to be the wiser choice given how full we were after the mains and I ended up stealing a few slices of melon off him.
Overall, if you are looking for delicious, authentic Arabic food and an ambiance to impress, Pharaoh Cafe & Restaurant should defiantly be given a consideration. I also think this would be the ideal place to entertain overseas guests who want a slice of Arabesque!
For more details on Pharaoh Cafe & Restaurant, visit their website or call 04 3519111 for reservations.