Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Iftar review: Savour a selection of Arabic classics at Khaymat Al Bahar

The Jumeirah Al Qasr restaurant is serving Arabic classics and international favourites in a traditional setting this Ramadan

Khaymat Al Bahar exteriors with a Burj Al Arab backdrop. Courtesy Khaymat Al Bahar
Khaymat Al Bahar exteriors with a Burj Al Arab backdrop. Courtesy Khaymat Al Bahar

There is always something quite majestic about dining at Jumeirah Al Qasr. The Dubai hotel is home to eight restaurants, including the romantic Pierchic and popular Pai Thai, set down on the Souk Madinat waterways. A wander through the palatial hotel’s lush green grounds will lead you to Khaymat Al Bahar.

Found between the beach and the Jumeirah Al Qasr pool, Khaymat Al Bahar is a luxurious Lebanese eatery that expands across a series of traditional Arabic tents. This Ramadan, it’s serving a classic iftar selection at a buffet in the heart of the restaurant. Tip: before you even make your way to your seat, it is worth wandering around to size up exactly where you plan to start.

Where to sit and what to expect

Dining on the second weekend in May, we were lucky to still have cool enough weather to iftar al fresco. Sat out on the terrace, my dining partner and I enjoyed a view of the Burj Al Arab and a background soundtrack of crashing waves. As my friend noted, it really was a meal made out of Dubai dining cliches, but we lapped up every single one of them. If the mercury has risen a little too high by the time you visit, opt for a table with a view of the traditional oud player.

A traditional oud player. Courtesy Khaymat Al Bahar 
A traditional oud player. Courtesy Khaymat Al Bahar 

The menu

If there is one classic Arabic dish missing from the Khaymat Al Bahar iftar, I challenge you to find it. Every table has dates and dried apricot, so diners can break their fast the traditional way. And then there is the classic selection of drinks including buttermilk, jallab, qamar al-din and, of course, Vimto.

We begin with a bowl of lentil soup, followed by a cold mezze selection of hummus, mutabal, fattoush and ­moussaka. A highlight from the cold mezze selection are the fried cauliflower and aubergine.

Next, it’s time for a round of hot mezze. The chicken shawarma is so good we go back for another, and the cheese rukakat and spinach fatayer are some of the best we’ve had this Ramadan. Fried kibbeh and meat sambousek are also part of this list.

Khaymat Al Bahar's Kabab Halabi. Courtesy Khaymat Al Bahar
Khaymat Al Bahar's Kabab Halabi. Courtesy Khaymat Al Bahar

The mains, we are told, vary from day to day. The evening we visit, there’s a mixed grill selection. We try and love the succulent shish tawook, as well as fried fish and kibbeh bil laban in the traditional Arabic selection.

However, the Khaymat Al Bahar iftar is not limited to regional dishes. Also available are an international selection of pasta dishes, a Thai green curry, aloo gobi and shrimp masala. It’s a challenge not to go up for seconds or thirds of the flavoursome selection.

The dessert selection. Courtesy Khaymat Al Bahar 
The dessert selection. Courtesy Khaymat Al Bahar 

Just make sure you leave room for dessert. A variety of fresh fruit is the perfect way to top off an indulgent iftar, followed by the much-less-healthy but must-have assortment of Arabic sweets, baklava and balah el sham. There are also giant trays of Umm Ali and kunafa to help yourself to, plus other Arabic desserts that were new to me, including mouhalabieh, which is a Lebanese milk flan topped with pistachios.

We finish our meal with a cup of Moroccan mint tea, which is theatrically served out of a traditional teapot right at our table.

Signature dish

The lamb ouzi has to be the star of the Khaymat Al Bahar iftar. The classic Emirati lamb and rice dish takes centre stage at the heart of the buffet, piled high with slow-cooked tender lamb and aromatic rice.

The lamb ouzi. Courtesy Khaymat Al Bahar
The lamb ouzi. Courtesy Khaymat Al Bahar

Another signature is the date juice, served at your table over the shoulder of a server from a large Arabic jug. Combined with rose water, the fragrant and super-sweet beverage is a delicious accompaniment to the meal.

Value for money and contact information

The iftar costs Dh195 per person, which is about standard for the five-star buffet selections this Ramadan. All of the food is freshly prepared, and there is an abundance of choice, making this good value for money.

To make a reservation, contact Khaymat Al Bahar on 800 666 353 or jrgreservations@jumeirah.com.

This iftar was reviewed at the invitation of the restaurant

Updated: May 15, 2019 08:02 PM

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