A hole-in-the-wall offering some pretty good kebabs
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Time Out Says

Outwardly, Zaina appears to be the type of standard Arabic hole-in-the-wall that come a dime a dozen in Dubai. I doubt I’d have thought to check it out, were it not for the recommendation of a colleague who had somehow stumbled in there over Ramadan and came back cooing about the kebabs. The place is fairly unassuming, with a handful of tables vying for space with a spread of traditional Persian booths (the carpeted, tableless type that allow diners to eat at floor level). My date and I started with what must have been the worst houmous I’ve yet encountered in Dubai. The chickpea paste was watery and disconcertingly bitter. Occasionally I would forget how awful it was and dip my bread into it, and each time I would curse myself and the horrible dip.

The grilled meats, fortunately, were another story. My own Afghani tikka came in the form of several plump and buttery mounds of bright yellow chicken breast. The flesh was tangy and the meat practically drooled into my mouth as I bit into it. I was impressed with my date’s lamb kebab, or at least I as initially. I had two bites that were violently different. The first morsel was tender, yielding and richly flavoured. The second bite was chewy and dense, with a taste and consistency resembling liver. I was stunned by how wildly inconsistent his dish was.

By Dubai standards, Zaina is reasonable, and it does offer the occasional high note. But while the restaurant isn’t expensive, the inconsistency of our meal made it feel overpriced. There are myriad Arabic restaurants in Dubai that for the same price have meals that sing every step of the way.

The bill (for two)
1x Large water Dhs2
1x Lemon juice Dhs10
1x Watermelon juice Dhs10
1x Homous Dhs8
1x Zaina kebab Dhs24
1x Afghani tikka Dhs20
Total (excluding service) Dhs74

By Daisy Carrington  | 04 Oct 2009

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Dubai, Jumeirah, Al Wasl Road Dubai - United Arab Emirates

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