Stop The Press ! I’m excited to write this post and want to share with you a new seafood place which in my opinion is every bit as good as Bu Qtair and then some, yes, that’s right, I am tipping this place as somewhere to take yourself and guests to which serves up fish fry and curry in a similar style but, which, to be perfectly honest I prefer over Bu Qtair. Contentious yes I know, but hey, it’s my opinion and I’d love to hear yours too. Here’s more about the new find, Al Fannah.
One of my favourite things to do is to discover a new restaurant which nobody else seems to know about yet but which is good and you know will go places. Let me introduce to you Al Fannah which, on my visit with Ishita from Ishita Unblogged yesterday, had been open just fifteen days. I came to know about Al Fannah from my last trip to Bu Qtair when on leaving the parking lot I was handed a flyer about the new restaurant, to be honest I had spotted the sparkly fairy lights of the restaurant and wanted to check them out, but the lure of a last of the year dinner with Ishita in Bu Qtair’s new location had distracted me.
Al Fannah – Fish Grill & Fry
Located inside the Fishing Harbour and just a little bit back from the Quay, the board outside lured us in with simple offerings : Fish Grill & Fry and with some images of Keralan dishes. The majority of staff are from Kerala and you can certainly tell this from the flavours of the food in particular the fish curry sauce and the flaky Porotta which transported me back to a trip to Kerala and a three day trip on a houseboat around the backwaters where we dined on plenty of fish curry and flaky, buttery delicious porotta.
We dined on fried Sherry (40/AED) good for two people with a lunchtime appetite, half a kilo of prawns which were perfectly spiced and deep fried (70/AED) served with flaky Porotta, a small salad and a wonderful coconut fish curry sauce. Ishita also tried the Chicken Biryani (12/AED) which she tells me was good. A few soft drinks, tea and a bottle of water and the bill came to 120/AED all in.
We had our fish fried so we could compare to Bu Qtair you can also ask for your fish to be grilled and for arabic side dishes rather than Indian sides. Our fish was perfectly soft and flaky and easy pulled apart and and was eaten with our fingers, which is how it should be, although proper cutlery is provided if you prefer, but for me there’s always something quite satisfying about pulling off pieces of soft fish, rolling it around in the sauce before mopping everything up in soft porotta and finally stuffing in your mouth as you plan your next mouthful. Top Tip : Ask for your fish to be more or less spicy when you order and the staff will accommodate.
We dined outside as the weather is perfect and the view of the harbour is always refreshing, I’m also a great people watcher so loved watching the fishing guys go about their business too (they live in the accommodation buildings behind the restaurant). You can also dine inside, where the walls are painted by traditional Kerala artists and give the impression of being inside an aquarium.
How to sum up our lunch? An unexpected good find with a traditional menu but with a healthy grilled twist, fantastic prices, certainly an as yet undiscovered Dubai Hidden Gem, a great place to feast like a queen, spend like a pauper and write about like a King 🙂
The set up is similar style to Bu Qtair, order inside where you choose your fish, tell the guys how you want it cooked, grilled or fried, and the level of spiciness. Fish is caught from their boat, and stocks are supplemented by the fish market. Always available, prawns and sherri with other fish like black pomfret, hammour … being available from time to time. Whilst this place doesn’t have the long standing history that Bu Qtair has, it makes up for it with excellently cooked food, great prices and the feeling that you can take your time to dine without feeling the pressure of make way for the next wave of guests (but of course this could change). Currently open for lunch through to 1 am, we were told that they will soon be serving breakfast, think Masala Dosa etc and I’m sure to have to do a return visit for this as it’s one of my favourite Indian breakfast dishes. Currently there’s no Wifi so do something different and sit and chat with your dining companion, go on, I know it’s social media ‘retro’ but give it a go, it can be fun 🙂
For Quality Sake … I went back a second time, this time a larger Sherri, 1/2 kilo prawns, sauce, 2 salads and 4 parathas, 2 cokes and 1 water came to 160 AED and the presentation of the dishes looked a little bit better than the first visit and just as importantly it tasted equally as good as the first time. As always we ordered too much and the staff were happy to pack us a bag to go, which we gave to a few workers that we passed on our way home, from the smile on their faces, we made their day.
Al Fannah can be found at the Fishing Harbour, Umm Sequiem 2
Landmark – it’s behind Dubai London Clinic and then drive towards the Burj Al Arab, it’s on the right hand side with plenty of parking (Tip : Don’t follow the map on their Facebook or Instagram as it points to the wrong end of the Beach Road at the moment)
On Bu Qtair
With a story going back almost forty years, the Bu Qtair that I knew and loved, an old portacabin serving up catch of the day to diners from every walk of life, who queued for ages and dined on plastic chairs on tables set on sand alongside wooden dhows, has undergone a bit of a transformation. Whilst I enjoyed checking out new Bu Qtair in it’s new location (it’s moved across the road from it’s previous site and is now in a fixed building with proper chairs and tables etc), and much is the same – same menu, same owner, same staff, same order system etc sadly for me it’s lost a lot of the ‘charm’ that went with the dining experience. There was something special about dining at old Bu Qtair, feasting on catch of the day in the shadow of Burj Al Arab on plastic tables and chairs, the rawness of the down to earth dining experience in contrast to the dramatic seven start Burj Al Arab was part of the charm and somehow this is lost now it’s in the new location even though actually it’s just across the road. Sometimes progress is not for the better and I do hope that Dubai doesn’t ‘clean up’ too much of the traditional eateries and ‘unsung hero eats” of Dubai and lose some of the historic charms.
You can read more about Bu Qtair and it’s history >> here as Ishita of IshitaUnblogged covers off our last dinner of 2015 in the newly located Bu Qtair and reminisces over it’s history.