x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Cheap as chips: Istanbouli

Istanbouli is a cheap restaurant serving traditional Arabic food.

Behind a sign bearing the regal visage of Suleiman the Magnificent lies a small, cosy, pine-clad restaurant serving what at first appears to be the usual selections of hummus, moutabal and grills, with plenty of bread and pickles.

If, though, you venture beyond the obvious choices to the daily specials, at Dh25, and the variations on the kofta recipes, a whole new world of Arabic and Turkish food opens up to you.

Unless you speak and read Arabic, you might not be able to work out what they're called, but ask the waitress for a description of these home-made treats. When I went this week, my companion and I picked Mansaf from the specials menu, and the meat of the lamb shank slid off the bone into the tangy yoghurt sauce with just a touch of the knife.

In fact, lamb is at the heart of the restaurant's menu, from the chewy but tasty lamb chops to a full roasted lamb. The kofta Khoshkhash, though, was the standout choice, the minced-lamb kebabs firm and spicy under a layer of fresh diced tomatoes and a side salad of flat-leaf parsley.

The service is helpful and friendly and the constant stream of Turkish soap operas on the TV in the corner is almost as compelling as the food.

Al Falah St, Abu Dhabi between Airport Rd and Muroor Rd
02 621 2557