I was mispronouncing ‘Zou Zou’ as ‘Zaw Zaw’, but I later came to know its ‘Zoo Zoo’, an affectionate feminine Arabic name. Perhaps this beautifully bronze-lit authentic diner is named after a beloved Zou Zou the owner happened to know, a brilliant cook who had a special penchant with Mediterranean flavors and loved to feed a large brood.
Such is the warmth and familial familiarity that exudes from this beautifully decorated ‘Turkish meets Lebanese’ restaurant, located in Insta-friendly La Mer, Dubai.
Located right across the road from Mercato Mall on Beach Road (Jumeirah, Dubai), Ard Zaytoon has been a favorite with the local community for years. Originally a Lebanese restaurant, the establishment has had a change of chef and cuisine and the menu offerings are now of Turkish origin.
The interiors are bright and inviting with perky yellow-green upholstery and smiling staff. Sleek, minimalist and modern, the space has no hint of exotic Turkey… that is, until you meet the curly moustached chef clothed in traditional ‘shalvar’ and head gear.
Citywalk Phase 2 has an eclectic vibe about it. Perhaps it’s the highly Instagrammed graffiti that adorn its surrounding walls, or the cobbled, open spaces, all at once European yet undisputedly Dubai that makes it so endearing. Despite the summer heat, the evenings are bustling with activity here. A group of children play hopscotch near the cascading fountain, young friends chat over coffee and haloed puffs of shisha. Yet above it all is the decadent scent of freshly baked bread and melting cheese.
Follow your nostrils, and you will find yourself in Babaji, Citywalk’s newest restaurant opening. A London import, and restauranteur Alan Yau’s very first international debut, Babaji is a wide and spacious, and has been brimming with diners from the time it opened this May. Word about their famous pide is out! Pide, the traditional Turkish cheese bread with assorted toppings, puts food-court pizza to shame.
‘Ruya’ translates to ‘dream’, a very apt name for one of Dubai’s most anticipated new restaurants, located in the very luxe Grosvenor House (Marina Dubai). This very stylish new Turkish restaurant pays homage to the rich culinary history of the Anatolian region.
Headed by Chef Colin Clague who has some very reputed names under his belt (including the iconic Burj Al Arab, Jean Georges Dubai, Qbara and Zuma), the dishes here are as artistic as the venue itself.
The expansive interiors are done up with a great deal of panache. Dimly lit, suave and chic, the ambiance is all at once inviting and posh. From the traditional oven to the Cag Kebap grill, and the beautifully intricate mosaic in spurts of turquoise, a few typically Turkish accents add a touch of the exotic to the space. Ruya is a restaurant, lounge and bar, and also features an open terrace, boasting of a very scenic view of the Dubai Marina.
Saray Sultan (or ‘Palace of the King’) is one of the newest restaurants on the Jumeirah Beach Road strip. Serving an extensive menu of authentic Turkish dishes, the restaurant boasts of an open terrace area that is ideal for lounging given the gorgeous weather we are enjoying this month.
Saray Sultan is located off Jumeirah Beach Road, in the Jumeirah 3 area. It is on the top floor of Reem Mall.