One more query plagued me, and it involved the venue’s name. How was I supposed to pronounce it? I silently debated whether it was na-three na-three, or perhaps N-A-three N-A-three? No, it’s pronounced na-na, which is the Arabic word for mint (the three represents an Arabic letter that has no equivalent in the Roman alphabet). Apart from the name, there were few visual clues to tell us that Na3Na3 was an Arabic restaurant. The place was awash in cool creams with windows looking out onto a fountain (though not The Fountain). The music was classically panpipe. Physically, the restaurant more closely resembled a spa.
As our waiter cooingly leads us to a table, it occurred to my date and I that the staff were among the warmest we’ve met in Dubai. The service was not only excellent, but genuine. The only time it got a little overbearing was when we approached the buffet, at which point the staff took turns following us around, describing any dish we so much as glanced at. Although, in doing so, they also steered us towards some amazing dishes that we might not have tried on our own. Perhaps the best mezze (and they were universally good) was a houmous imbedded with chunks of hammour and caramelised onions, a rich sultry dip that paired beautifully with the pillowy tears of fresh baked saj bread.
Desserts similarly alternated between sublime and standard. The squares of Turkish delight (which they dubbed Tunisian for some reason I couldn’t fathom) were blissfully sweet and gummy, and a classically made bowl of tiramisu excelled, perfectly balancing the pungent layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers with fresh mascarpone cheese (how it’s meant to be done). On the other hand, a glass of green tea panna cotta was bitter and chalky – definitely one to avoid.
Na3Na3 is a beautiful environment, and is one of the only fine dining ventures actually attached to The Dubai Mall. It also does have some very good food on offer. But ultimately, it is a buffet, and an expensive one at that. They do have an à la carte menu, but the prices of the mains alone make the all-you-can-eat option quite the deal. Even so, I still personally find it difficult to justify spending Dhs165 for a dinner at a midrange restaurant, even if it is a good one.
The bill (for two)
1x Lemonade Dhs35
1x Green tea Dhs22
1x Large Aqua Panna water Dhs26
1x Buffet dinner Dhs330
Total (including service) Dhs413