However, other than the decor (and a shisha menu), little sets this venue apart from the ones that have preceded it. This, however, is no bad thing, considering Al Hallab has long served some of the best Lebanese food in the city. Little on the menu surprised my date and I when we visited, and for this we were thankful. The baba ganoush – perhaps the smokiest, most seductive dip in Dubai – was just as tantalising as always. The fattoush had the same superior combination of ingredients (sprightly pomegranate, fresh mint, tomatoes, sumac) as the one I’d often ordered for takeaway in Garhoud, and the fresh bread was just as soft and cushiony as I’d come to expect. In every way, the meal was exactly as I remembered it.
I also took the opportunity to try some new dishes (new to me, that is, not to the menu). While I often go in for the mixed grill – which offers layers of crackly, juicy lamb chops, drooling tubes of minced chicken and lamb kebabs and expertly salted (if slightly soggy) chips – my date and I decided to try the kebab kishkash: tubes of ground meat coated in a homely yet spicy tomato sauce. It sounds simple (possibly even boring), but it was glorious. The meat oozed its juices into the accompanying gravy, and the blend of spices (I could detect a hint of cinnamon) gave the dish some earthy hints.
There’s something lovely about how tucked away the venue is. Though it’s situated in a mall, it feels blissfully separate. Anyone who has time to kill and a hunger to quell should make Al Hallab their go-to spot.
The bill (for two)
1x Guava juice Dhs16
1x Large bottle of water Dhs10
1x Baba ganoush Dhs14
1x Fattoush Dhs16
1x Kebab kishkash Dhs32
Total (excluding service) Dhs88