Old Dubai restaurants
Time Out Dubai guide to Old Dubai restaurants; places to eat in Bur Dubai, Deira, Wafi by price and cuisine, with reviews, contacts, hours and deals.
A trip to Old Dubai is never uneventful, and exploring the city’s more pedestrian-friendly streets is never short of adventure. Whether in Deira, Satwa or Bur Dubai, there are so many foodie finds there and beyond to encourage you to perhaps veer away from your usual dining destinations. Put your feet up on the banks of the Creek, or experience some traditional Emirati dining. Kiosks, hole-in-the-wall kitchens, and the best manakish in town are all here and the best thing is your wallet probably won’t feel too much lighter after chowing down in Old Dubai.
Absolutely unmissable. If there are only two words you should know about of Calicut Paragon, it’s these. This brilliant budget restaurant deserves every single plaudit it has received over the years and more – even if it’s just for one dish (more on that later).
Nestled in the heart of Dubai’s “Curry Corridor” of Satwa, Karama and Bur Dubai, is Paragon. Forget the no-frills décor, this place is all about incredible Keralan flavours where mains often cost Dhs25.
While there are plenty of meat and vegetarian dishes, it’s seafood that reigns supreme in Paragon. And, for us, the stunning crab tushar takes the crown for the best.
Served in a clay pot is a full crab broken up inside – so be prepared to down tools and jump right in with your hands. It’s coated in a caramel-coloured spicy sauce that earns this dish the title of king. If we only ate this thick, bubbling, fiery-yet-creamy gravy for the rest of our days we’d consider ourselves beyond lucky. Mop it up with up an appam, or five.
If you’re not a shellfish fan then the Peralan chicken curry is a must. Although milder in spice, the coconutty sauce still packs an almighty punch and the poached chicken falls off the bone. Order a palak paneer bhurji and some steamed rice and brace yourself for many, many months of telling anyone who’ll listen about this restaurant. We know we have.
The bottom line
Truly brilliant South Indian eats.
Lan Kwai Fong is not fancy in the slightest, which makes it perfect for any post-work haggardness and a frills-free meal. A perusal of the menu will also cause your mood to lift even further; it’s varied, cheerful and super cheap.
It’s on the shabbier side now – and by no means as good as it was – but service is spot on, with wait staff happy explain the menu and make recommendations and adjustments to dishes.
Food arrives quickly and the portion sizes are very generous – get ready for to take away some leftovers. Stir-fried tofu with vegetables is fresh and crunchy, while wok-fried chicken with black bean and chilli is fragrant and full of flavour.
A handful of sweets with the (modest) bill is a nice touch, and rounds off a decent meal.
For a low-key, cheap and cheerful experience, Lan Kwai Fong is worth a visit. Keep expectations on the low side, and you’ll be happy.
Fuss-free Chinese serving up flavourful dishes
A cute, quaint Thai restaurant in Oud Metha, Lemongrass has a lovely vibe and nice, down-to-earth décor. Staff are pleasant but don’t try too hard to make sure you’re having a good time.
The menu is filled with dishes you’d find across Thailand, with spicy soups, vibrant salads, rice and noodle dishes and curries providing the big hitters. Seafood and wok dishes are less successful, however.
Satay-style chicken is a good option to start, along with fried fish balls. The minced chicken salad is one of our favourites, the sweet, sour, salty and spicy all working in harmony. We find the duck Penang curry a little salty, and the duck is tough, while the crispy red snapper really needs the tangy tamarind sauce with it, as the fish itself lacks some flavour. More successful is the guay tiew tom yum – a spicy noodle soup with minced chicken, prawn and squid.
If you’re in the older part of town and fancy something other than the Indian food that’s more readily available, Lemongrass is as good as anything you’ll find there and it’s pretty decent value, too.
Noodle Bowl is a little diamond in the rough. The venue is cheap and cheerful, the staff are friendly and the outdoor seating lends itself perfectly to a spot of people watching – if you can tear your eyes away from the menu.
The list of dishes is long and everything sounds good. Service is speedy once you decide and our prawn cheng feung dumplings arrive promptly. These little parcels will put your chopsticks to the test, but persevere and you will be awarded in juicy abundance.
The soups we try are packed full of flavour and we are particularly delighted with the hot and sour version, which is fragrant and packs a good spicy punch.
The Singapore noodles are the dish that just keeps on giving – literally. No matter how much we eat, the mound just doesn’t decrease. Not that we’re complaining. The noodles are packed with flavour and have a lovely warming kick thanks to lots of fresh chillies.
The beef in black pepper sauce is succulent, with a tasty mix of spices. It comes with a scattering of onions, peppers and chillies, which add a good crunch and breadk up the heaviness of the meat and rich sauce.
After we finish our meal we’re happy to sit a while longer and enjoy the bustling streets of Satwa.
The bottom line
A welcome change of scene we’d be only too happy to repeat.
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