Thought the area was just hospitals and five-star hotels?
Sandwiched between the dazzling hotels of Umm Hurair, hospitals of Healthcare City and the handbag hawker haven of Karama, Oud Metha is easily overlooked. It’s smaller, quieter and less intuitively laid out. But almost every major cuisine from Asia is represented here – from Chinese to Korean, Pakistani to Indian, Filipino to Malaysian and beyond. Wake up and smell the kimchi.
Benny’s Whether you love Filipino food or are entirely new to it, this casual, friendly spot is the place to go to enjoy it in a fun and thoroughly unconventional fashion. At Benny’s, you need to order the Boodle Fight. Designed for four to six diners, choose three main courses, two side dishes and two appetisers, and watch as they’re laid out, banquet-style, on huge banana leaves (see above) in a line down the centre of the entire table – all for just Dhs190. Perfect for big kids – except those who still haven’t learnt to share food. 8th Street, www.bennyscafeandrestaurant.com (056 134 8594).
Billo Ice Cream If you’re walking down 4th Street after dark, this place is unmissable for its bright pink neon lighting in the window. Priding itself on authentic Indian-Pakistani cold treats and inspired by vibrant truck art, it’s a unique, independent alternative to the city’s omnipresent ice-cream chains. Try Asian ice-cream blends (mmmm, lychee!) and faloodas – a cold, milky drink made with rosewater and tapioca pearls or jelly, not dissimilar to the ubiquitous bubble tea. 4th Street, www.facebook.com/billoicecream (055 941 3658).
Fuyija Supermarket Unless you were looking for it, you might breeze past the blinds that obscure the displays in this small Japanese supermarket. A look inside is rewarding for keen cooks – as well as rows of sauces, dried goods, seaweed, matcha tea powders and sweets (think green tea KitKats), shelves are stacked with soy sauce vessels in every conceivable shape, miso pots, teppanyaki spatulas and all manner of Asian kitchenware. A note of caution though – it’s not cheap. 4th Street (04 337 0503).
Easily one of the best Korean meals you’ll have this side of the East China Sea. Relatively new (it only opened in April) but a boon for the city’s small scene, prepare your palate for fantastically fresh kimchi, entertaining table-top barbecuing and delicious, hunger-busting haemul pajeon. Head here if you’re ravenous – food leaves the kitchen impossibly fast. Corner of 4th Street and 17a Street (04 449 8519).
Lan Kwai Fong This Hong Kong-style Chinese restaurant is probably most widely known as ‘that Peking duck restaurant’ thanks to its conscience-dominating signage, which acts as a homing beacon for hungry bellies. Like Special Ostadi in Bur Dubai and Manvaar in Karama, this place falls into that special ‘if you know, you know’ category of Dubai-insider dining. Peking duck special aside (which is Dhs198 for the full duck – and well worth it) prices across the full menu are very reasonable, with nothing more than Dhs40. 10th Street, near Mövenpick Hotel and Apartments Bur Dubai (04 335 3680).
One of Dubai’s most enduring, unlicensed Thai restaurants, after almost a decade, Lemongrass is still among our favourite places for a low-key meal from the East Asian nation. Dishes are packed with delicate flavours and fiery heat – go for the som tam salad (papaya and shrimp) and the ‘poo pad pong garee’ (crab with a curry sauce) – and served up in comfortable, tranquil surroundings that feel far removed from the bustle outside. Bu Haleeba Building, opposite Lamcy Plaza (04 334 2325).
Tea Junction Hugely popular among the city’s Indian expats, this cavernous tea house (or should that be mansion?) serves up a whole range of different chai blends, including Mumbai street classic ‘cutting chai’ – alongside fruit teas, international teas ranging from Arabian to Russian, plus a number of particularly climate-appropriate iced teas. The focus is on beverages, but snacks are available if you’re peckish, and include pakoras, momos and chilli cheese toast alongside crepes, which seem to be the most popular choice. Corner of 12b Street, www.teajunction.ae (04 357 6677). Rasa Sayang
A brilliant, brand-new spot for authentic Malaysian cooking in Dubai, you’ll find this gem near the Malaysian Trade Centre. Staff are enormously helpful and the menu features some true classics (satay, nasi lemak, chilli garlic squid), all of which the kitchen executes to a high standard indeed. The best part? A meal for two easily comes in at Dhs150 or less. Umm Hurair Road (04 550 9126). Sai Dham Ever tried an Ayurvedic body treatment? Well now you can eat the food to match. Following the principles of the ancient Indian healing practise, Sai Dham serves saatvik food, made without onion or garlic in order to promote balance and serenity. Not entirely convinced of the benefits of the absence of alliums? The Sai Bhog thalis (priced from just Dhs20) are a great way to try a few dishes at once – and might even change your mind. Saleh Bin Lahej Building, 4th Street, www.sai-dham.com (04 335 8788).
Also in the area
Al Nasr Leisureland In addition to tennis, squash, swimming, bowling and ice-skating, this long-standing entertainment complex houses Goan restaurant Viva Goa, Filipino bar Odd Spot, and Indian restaurant Moghul Room – the latter two both offer live entertainment. Behind American Hospital, www.alnasrll.com (04 337 1234).
Lamcy Plaza This mall packs in an impressive amount for its small size. From a food court filled with interesting kiosks that aren’t just your usual burger joints, to stores selling shoes for less than Dhs50 (yes indeed), there is much to discover if you haven’t already – including ‘the world’s first’ perfume-vending machine. 4th Street, www.lamcyplaza.com (04 335 9999).
Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai Opposite the American Hospital, this hotel is home to several noteworthy outlets. Somerset’s, a sports bar and pub, screens football, F1, NBA and more on its 13 screens, with free wi-fi and daily happy hours. Check out popular Indian eatery Chutney’s, or Lebanese mezze and grills at Fakhreldine. 19th Street, www.moevenpick-hotels.com (04 336 6000).