One of the very first places I dined out when I moved to Dubai was Ravi’s a restaurant that is almost as old as Dubai and which seems to have the same menu today as it did seven years ago when I first got here, and I’m told the menu has hardly changed since the restaurant opened. The menu by the way, is a wipe clean affair under a plastic sheet on the table – covered in black marker pen denoting dishes no longer available, it has it’s own rustic charm which I love.
Last week Ishita of IshitaUnblogged and I had lunch at Ravi’s in Satwa with the lovely Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet. Just to show how small the world is Ishita met Anton in London at the Chawster Awards she e-introduced me over Instagram, and I subsequently met him in the Philippines when I attended Madrid Fusion and again in Thailand for TBEX Asia.
By coincidence Anton mentioned he would be doing a quick stopover in Dubai on his way home to the Philippines and so a quick plan was hatched to meet. Now you would think it would be easy to suggest somewhere to meet, after all we have at least five thousand restaurants at last count ! but where to meet to show Anton the essence of Dubai on a busy Diwali day and with time and location pressures on all of us. We choose Ravi, partly because of it’s location, partly because of it’s history and partly, well, just because it’s Ravi and it’s a place close to both of our hearts, and many in Dubai for being what it is, good value, decent authentic Pakistani street food served with no frills but with history a plenty and an interesting story to be told.
Ishita ordered for us (thankfully they had run out of Brain Nihari !) and we dined on some fabulous dishes which we later found had been toned down in spices as the waiter spotted me, the blonde European at the table, and he decided that I couldn’t do spicy – little does he know, I love my spice ! Anyways, even with the spice levels reduced, we dined on tasty Biryani, Chicken Kadai, Keema Nan, Mutton Kebabs and a few other dishes which escape my memory – food and drinks came to a total of 120/AED with plenty to takeaway too – pleasing our guest who wanted to convey a message back to his readers (as do I) that there are plenty of places to eat in Dubai for great prices.
There’s nothing fancy about Ravi, sit outside on pavement based tables when it’s cooler and people watch and take in the full Satwa traffic experience of honking horns and organised chaos. If it’s too hot sit inside and people watch, chat to the busy waiters or watch their busy CCTV system monitoring the other restaurants. Join the queue for a table at busy times and expect to be seated next to all walks of life from taxi drivers to Chief Executives. Everything is served on ceramic plates and dishes and sent out when it’s ready (they invented family style dining before it came “the thing”), drinks are often served in metal cups, or straight from the fridge and watch out, at busy times the table is cleared almost before you have finished eating ! Enjoy it for what it is and you will have fun !
We visited the original Ravi’s which is in Satwa and now has two further restaurants virtually attached to it. Walk along the side of the restaurant and if you are lucky you can get a sneak peak into the kitchen where we saw bread being made at lightening speed, the gravy based dishes are made in another kitchen and you can’t help but be totally seduced into ordering kababs when you see and smell them cooking as you walk along in front of the restaurant and spot them being cooked down a side alley, they are exceedingly good. You can also find Ravi’s in Karama and Al Nahda. Expect to pay approx 50/AED for two people.
I love this description about Ravi’s from Lonely Planet
Everyone from cabbies to five-star chefs flock to this original branch of the legendary Pakistani eatery (dating from 1978) where you eat like a prince and pay like a pauper. Possibly home to the best butter chicken in town, it’s also worth loosening that belt for heaping helpings of spicy curries, succulent grilled meats, creamy dal (lentils) and fresh naan.
Want to know more about the history of Ravi’s then read this article and watch the video, . Ravi’s founder, Abdul Hameed was actually sat in the restaurant when we were there, we only found out who he was when he had left, oh well, there’s always next time.