The local appetite for funky fast-food franchises shows no danger of waning, so it was only a matter of time before Shake Shack arrived to purvey grilled goods to Dubai’s already portly populous. Back in the US, Shake Shack markets itself as the modern-day answer to the traditional burger stand (specialising, of course, in milkshakes), with the added bonus of serving grape and hop-based beverages at its numerous East Coast outlets. The franchise’s first venture outside of the US has wound up in Mall of the Emirates, so there’s not an option of enjoying a cold one with your burger, but this hasn’t seemed to deter customers – when we dropped in one Saturday evening, an intimidating mass of humanity jostled for a place in the winding queue.

Luckily, there were as many people behind the counter as there were in front of it and I was soon placing my order with a bubbly cashier, who then issued me with something resembling a taser. Of course, it wasn’t an electroshock weapon, just a beeper to alert me when my order was ready. Dejected, I went to find my date, who had been fighting her way through the hungry hordes to find a table. After a false alarm (it turns out that the beeper always flashes green), I finally exchanged my taser for buns, meat, fries and assorted drinks (chocolate malt shake for me; iced tea for her) and returned to the table triumphantly.

It was worth the wait – well, at least for me. I was impressed by how well-constructed my burger was. Usually burger joints try to cram as many ingredients, topping and sauce as humanly possible in between two buns, a tactic that leads to more burger ending up in your lap than in your mouth. Shake Shack’s burger, however, stays together nicely, allowing you to tuck into the two tender patties, pickles and sauces with minimum mess. Taste-wise, the burger fared well – far better than the equivalents elsewhere in the mall’s food court, though it really should be considering its price.

The hotdog, meanwhile, probably wasn’t the best choice for my demure date. While the generous application of mustard, onions, chillies and assorted pickles proved tasty enough (in hindsight, the toppings were the best bit), they made for messy eating. More importantly, however, the Vienna all-beef hot dog just didn’t cut it for us. The rich, processed taste was too pronounced – too distracting – for a simple, honest dog.

It would, of course, been a crime to visit Shake Shack without indulging in the shakes, which is why I’d ordered the malt chocolate. I was perhaps expecting more of a fanfare to accompany it – for it to be richer, bigger, served with sparklers, anything – but as it turned, out, it was just a simple, well-made shake. The ‘malt’ component came at an additional Dhs3, though I doubt it made much of a difference. A braver man than me would have ordered a ‘Concrete’ – aka frozen custard – but because I value the mechanics of my digestive system, I promised myself I’d save space for it next time. And there will be a next time: Shake Shack proves a fun fast-food alternative for Dubai’s ever-so slightly bloated mall rats.

The bill (for two)
1x Double Shack burger Dhs35
1x Shack-cago hot dog Dhs22
1x Fries Dhs12
1x Chocolate malt shake Dhs25
Total (excluding service) Dhs94