It’s taken longer than the likes of once similarly barren JLT, but TECOM’s dining scene is slowly starting to come into its own. New restaurant and shisha café Nar (the soon-to-be chain’s second outlet, the first located at Al Safa’s Citywalk) is already proving a regular haunt for the neighbourhood’s locals, despite its position on the corner of Hessa Street’s busy intersection.
Many of Nar’s patrons pour in for the shisha (served inside and out) and a menu of traditional drinks such as Arabic coffee and Moroccan tea and food that features several twists on the usual Levantine fare.
Service is nothing out of the ordinary for this kind of establishment – grumpy, a little elusive and that charming combination that straddles helpful and rudeness (our waiter chastised us for ordering too much food, even when we insisted we were really hungry, and reassured him we would take any leftovers home. He eventually – and grumpily – relented).
First to arrive – a halloumi and watermelon salad, presented in a toasted bread bowl inside a bowl, and yielding far more lettuce than either cheese or fruit. Nevertheless, a different, refreshing combination of juicy sweetness and could-have-been-a-little-bit-saltier squidginess.
The next three dishes arrived with impetus – and our thoughts immediately returned to our waiter’s warning. The meat lover’s mishtah had the appearance and ingredients of a mixed manakish, but all the proportions of a Dubai Creek dhow (and probably its crew requirements, just to eat the whole thing). Split into three segments – lahm beajin, kafta and minced beef with egg (a new one, for us) – it was easily the greasiest, guiltiest and indisputably tastiest dish of the evening. An order of the Jordanian mixed sandwich featured two small shawarmas (one chicken and one meat-stuffed) wrapped, for a change, in markouk flatbread and served, unusually, with steak fries.
In the riot of meat juices and new experiences, Nar’s signature mixed grill passed almost unnoticed. While the shish taouk had good texture and traditional, tasty seasoning, the overly fatty lamb cubes and chewy kofta kebabs weren’t worth the stomach space.
Though it’s probably not worth making a detour for, for TECOM residents (and anyone who keen to avoid the Hessa Street rush-hour car park) Nar offers good food done to a reasonably high standard and good value for money – if you don’t over-order.
The bill (for two) 1x Halloumi salad Dhs49 1x Meat lovers mishtah Dhs49 1x Jordanian shawarma Dhs36 1x Nar mixed grill Dhs69 1x Fresh juice Dhs26 1x Large water Dhs24 Total (excluding service) Dhs253