Nestled at the foot of the unassuming Jumeirah Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road, an area where soulless chains dominate, this new Levant street food joint is certainly something different. With exposed concrete floors and corrugated iron walls (each adorned with graffiti and stencils of Arabic icons, such as singer Om Kalthoum), the interiors ooze edge and feel genuinely eclectic, rather than staged. ‘I feel like I’m in Cape Town,’ said my date on our visit, while flicking through the carb-filled and decidedly un-South African menu. ‘It feels unique and independent,’ he explained, pointing to the light fittings covered in keffiyeh checks.

The venue boasts outdoor seating, as well as a large wooden area hidden upstairs, but we chose to sit downstairs to watch the theatrical throwing of the giant saj dough pancake. The ratio of bandana-wearing staff to customers was three to one, so it was never hard to catch someone’s eye, yet they still managed to defy the laws of physics and appear rushed off their feet. But after being open only a week, we can forgive them a few shaky hands and forgotten side plates.

We started with a shared signature Zaroob cocktail. The Carmen Miranda of drinks, this wildly flamboyant ‘juice’ looked like something honeymooners would be served upon arrival at an all-inclusive Caribbean resort. It was served in an open jar filled with fresh strawberries, pineapples and kiwis, plus yoghurt, honey, almonds and pistachios, all whole, while the liquid element was a mixed cocktail of avocado, guava, kiwi, strawberry and mango juice.

We began our solids journey via a classic houmous with shwarma chicken that was a cut above the rest, the chicken flavoursome and moist, the houmous near perfect: tangy without biting on the tongue. Our second starter of halloumi was less appetising – the far-too-salty dish led to an ‘eau-du-brine’ enduring on the palette.

For mains we tried a deliciously fresh man’oushe bread wrap filled with herby and flavoursome kofta, plus a clearly calorific fateer bread (Egypt’s contribution to flatbread) stuffed with Kraft cheese spread. The latter was flaky with an oily slick, and was too rich for me. I preferred the pillowy mano’ushe, but my date begged to differ as the cheesy spread dripped down his forearms mid-bite.

At this point we were both stuffed; as I struggled to finish my mammoth juice, I insisted I couldn’t possibly order more. Yet the temptation of crispy-thin wholemeal saj bread housing gooey Nutella, cooked bananas and crushed hazelnuts proved too much.

We left feeling uncomfortably full, yet pleased to have found a venue that stands out from the cookie-cutter crowd with fresh interiors, even fresher bread and over-the-top juices. Rather dangerously, it’s also open 24 hours.

The bill (for two)
1x Zaroob cocktail Dhs39
1x Grilled halloumi Dhs16
1x Houmous with chicken Dhs20
1x Kofta man’oushe Dhs16
1x Fateer with Kraft Dhs15
1x Nutella saj Dhs14
Total (excluding service) Dhs120