Despite opening in a culinarily saturated part of the city, Siraj has had no problem claiming its share of the Souk Al Bahar market. Its appeal very likely owes to the fact it’s the first Emirati-Levantine fusion restaurant to open in the complex; one that is already attracting a reassuringly local crowd.
It’s frustrating, then, that for every sparkling positive there’s a niggling negative. While the food is largely excellent across the board, it’s also unignorably pricey. The restaurant’s interiors are chic, tasteful and comfortable, decked out in cool, sandy hues, but service is rankling at best.
Across the menu, you’ll find an even mix of ubiquitous Levantine classics and dishes native to the UAE that you may be less familiar with. Tourists, curious residents and anyone concerned with eating healthier and more sustainable meats, will all delight in the ready presence of camel meat on the menu (though said sustainability fans should avert their eyes from dishes featuring hammour and baby shark).
An order of hummus comes topped with a tasty helping of the sautéed dromedary, though the portion size of the chickpea blend itself threatens to cause a riot on the dining table for its paltry size, particularly at almost twice the price of a generic version elsewhere. An order of shrimp fatteh gets lost in the haphazard service, but calm is restored with the arrival of the meat margooga, a rich, saucy triumph of tender lamb and soft root vegetables, punctuated by slivers of dumpling-esque Arabic bread dough. Moments later, a wooden block bearing camel tenderloin arrives, boldly chargrilled and perfectly paired with a fragrant slick of zaatar pesto. The restaurant’s chefs should be lauded for their tenderising of such a notoriously tough meat. It’s that care and skill that makes Siraj shine.
The Bill (for two) 1x hummus with Camel Dhs39 1x tabbouleh Dhs36 1x green mango salad Dhs37 1x meat margooga Dhs89 1x xamel tenderloin Dhs144 1x tea Dhs24 1x large water Dhs29 Total (excluding service) Dhs398
The bottom line Excellent cooking and setting undermined by poor service and high prices.