Other than a shopping trip to the mall, historically there has never been much of a reason to venture in Ibn Battuta’s direction. Now, for foodies at least, there are three, at the new Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel – Sicilia, Chor Bazaar, and Shanghai Chic. We visited the latter last week; this time out we sampled the sub-continental offerings at Chor Bazaar. The restaurant takes its name from the famous Mumbai market and serves up contemporary fare courtesy of Chef Ravi Rao.

At the restaurant’s threshold, there is a stall offering us pani puri – crispy puffs of batter filled with a tamarind and green chilli. A nice touch, we thought, before heading inside, where we were greeted by a very clean, minimalist tandoor counter supported by three huge clay ovens. The venue’s layout felt more coherent than Shanghai Chic, which we felt was too compartmentalised, while the colour scheme of gentle yellow, cream and gold worked well.

We were seated by sweet, albeit somewhat confused, waiter and ordered a starter of masala crab tiki and aloo tiki chat. The crab cakes served with chilli sambal, were a non-event – unimaginative both in terms of taste and presentation. Happily, the aloo tiki chat was another story. The three potato patties, each topped with chal peas, yogurt and tamarind, looked and tasted great – rich and tomatoey with a fantastic texture. They proved to be the highlight of the meal.

For our main course, we ordered murgh malabari, biyani, hazari chicken and a tandoori plate, yet our eyes were bigger than our stomachs – the spread was too much for two, though it did afford us the opportunity to sample different aspects of the menu. The tandoori platter featured an array of meats, from shrimp to lamb to chicken – all prepared in the ovens previously mentioned. Each meat was tender and finely cooked, though the spices failed to differentiate the flavour of each, which meant that finishing this sizeable dish soon became a chore. Similarly, the hazari chicken was well prepared, but after a few spoonfuls we became frustrated at its conservatism. As with so many high-end Indian restaurants in the city, Chor Bazaar seemed to shy away from any kind of daring as far as spice was concerned. Not that we wanted our taste buds blown off; rather, we’d hoped the dish would hold our attention, but its lack of imagination was disappointing.

Chor Bazaar is a very similar animal to neighbouring Shanghai Chic – it’s a decent enough restaurant that would do good business if you dropped it a few miles up north in Dubai Marina. As it stands, however, there’s little that dazzles other than the aloo tiki chat, and we’re not sure this is enough of a reason to tackle the trek to Ibn Battuta.

The bill (for two)
1x Tiki chat
1x Masala crab tikki Dhs50
1x Murgh biryani Dhs64
1x Tandoori platter Dhs175
1x Hazari chicken Dhs50
1x Garlic naan Dhs8
1x Butter naan Dhs8
Total (including 10 per cent service) Dhs370