If Karama is inextricably linked with great Indian veggie food – and Jumeirah with the city’s best carrot cake – then Deira’s Al Muteena Street is the place to be if you’re looking for amazing Iraqi kebabs. Arbel was the scene of much jubilation a few months ago, when the Iraqi national football team lifted the 2007 Asian Cup against all the odds. But for fans of grilled meat, there’s still plenty of excitement to be found here.
Sit outside on the terrace and your table will fill up with a bumper attendance of pickles, fresh salad, creamy hummus, hot soup and crisp flatbread before you’ve even kicked off. Don’t argue the toss; just get it down you while you wait for the kebab to arrive. The minced lamb is tender, delicate and moist on the inside, scorched, crunchy and dizzyingly flavoursome on the outside. Rolled up with hummus and fresh bread, it’s the culinary equivalent of a perfectly executed bicycle-kick.
If you’re looking to try something slightly more adventurous, you might score an own goal with Iraqi bacha, which consists of a bowl of broth and a mashed up sheep’s head.
Alternatively, you may wish to test your ball control with a plate of lamb’s testicles before you go for the perfect finish, and a cup of strong, sugary Iraqi tea (you might need it after all that). But whether you go for an attacking formation or you play it completely safe, there’s little doubt that Arbel is a winner.