From the outside, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the simple street-side restaurant, other than the racy red fairy lights adorning a small outdoor ‘terrace’ (a few tables down a side street). But the air was thick with humidity on the night we visited, so we opted to sit inside with the rest of the guests (all Filipino, before you ask). As polite as he was, our waiter struggled to mask his surprise at seeing a couple of sweaty Westerners stumble through the door. ‘Are you on holiday?’ he enquired politely as he handed us our menus. We informed him that we live in Dubai. ‘And you came here?’ he exclaimed. Perhaps not the best advertisement for the food we were about to eat, but we put his incredulity down to the fact that the place isn’t frequented by many non-Filipinos.
Grill Corner serves traditional Filipino fare such as tapsilog and bulalo soup, a selection of Chinese dishes, and burgers. Of course, Chinese food is two-a-penny in Dubai, so, with the exception of the broccoli and tofu in oyster sauce, we stuck to the aforementioned Pinoy favourites as well as a portion of bicol express chicken. It was obvious that I’d over-ordered, but I didn’t care: I was hungry, not to mention over-excited at potentially unveiling a hidden gem of a restaurant. I surveyed the simple interior, peered over to see what the families around us had ordered and gazed up at the restaurant’s one flat-screen TV, showing a Filipino news channel, happy to be somewhere that felt totally different to my usual Dubai dining experiences.
Each dish proved to be an exercise in wholesome, hearty, homely cooking. The taste of the express chicken bicol, made from long chillies, coconut milk and shrimp paste, was reminiscent of Thai green curry, only smoother, while the tapsilog was simple and delicious in equal measure. The highlight for me, however, was the piping hot bulalo soup containing beef bone marrow, which proved the perfect remedy for Dubai’s predilection for freezing A/C during summer. I found myself excitedly buzzing from dish to dish, hardly allowing time for the taste of one to register before moving to the next. And then, without warning, I was stuffed. I could hardly move from the quantities I’d consumed and I sank back in my chair, half amazed and half ashamed that I had managed to eat so very much in such a short amount of time.
I was as pleased by the sight of the bill as I was the taste of the food – less than Dhs100 for a feast. My only regret is that more of Dubai’s Filipino chefs aren’t serving more delicious cuisine from their homeland.
The bill (for two)
1x Tapsilog Dhs14
1x Bulalo Dhs25
1x Bicol express chicken Dhs15
1x Tofu and broccoli Dhs14
2x Fresh orange juice Dhs20
Total (excluding service) Dhs88