Eric's, a Goan restaurant in Dubai's Karama, is a hidden gem.
Restaurant Review: Excellent value at cosy Dubai Goan eatery
They arrived with very little adornment - a sprinkling of chopped coriander, a wedge of lemon and that was that. But then the delicate, marinated prawns wrapped in a thin layer of crispy, crunchy, golden semolina clearly needed no other accompaniment, save for a dot of mint and coriander chutney pilfered from a nearby pot.
The rawa prawns at Eric's, a charming Goan restaurant in Karama, are very good indeed. But so too were a number of the other dishes that I tried over the course of a happy lunch earlier this week.
The restaurant feels a bit like the front room of a quaint little house. It's small, cosy and homely - white net curtains, neat tables, pictures on the walls - and once you step through the door, the heat and hustle of old Dubai is quickly forgotten.
Bar a portion of Thai green curry (which came recommended, and rightfully so), we eschewed the Chinese and Thai sections of the menu in favour of the Goan specialities. I would suggest that you do the same - not forgetting the curry.
Along with the rawa prawns, we ordered four stuffed papads - two filled with chicken, the others with prawns. Served simply on a bed of shredded carrot, the puckered papad rolls were soft and pleasantly chewy with a peppery aftertaste, the spiced chicken was moist enough to suggest it had been slow cooked and the finely diced prawns clung to their tangy sauce. There was no evidence of clagginess or grease, the papads were just the right thickness - providing texture, without making chewing a chore - and everything was well seasoned.
Whole, fried pomfret came with blistered skin and a blanket of roasted recheado paste. It needed only the gentlest of tugs to pull the tender fish away from the bone and I was surprised - and pleased - to find that it stood up to the warm, complex, smoky flavours of the masala well.
Despite enjoying the other dishes, it was the Thai green curry that sidled in and stole my heart. It wasn't love at first sight, though. On looks alone, I thought the sauce looked too bright a green and a skin had started to form around the edge of the bowl. But a mouthful or two in and the silken, aromatic coconut sauce had me converted. Sliced mushrooms and carrots were crunchy and a scattering of sweet, fragrant basil prevented the whole thing from being too rich. Thai green curry might be considered a bit of a generic dish - a boring choice even - but when the food tastes this good, it's worth being accused of playing it safe. Instead of rice, we opted to mop up our main courses with a basket of pav (squidgy bread buns) which were fine, if not particularly memorable. Our waiter recommended we also try the mini dosa and what a good suggestion that was. The floppy, lacy pancakes, all pale and aerated, provided a welcome counterpart to the intense spices at play in the other dishes. They also tasted pretty good when eaten alone; plain and buttery, with a slight sweetness.
Dessert was a shared slice of dark, treacly plum cake, topped with a large spoonful of proper vanilla ice cream and a few roasted cashew nuts. Like the rest of the meal, it tasted not just homemade, but thoughtfully prepared.
The total bill came to Dh105, which, given the quality of the food, is absolutely exceptional value for money. Do try it.
A meal for two at Eric's restaurant, Ground Floor, Block # B2, Sheikh Hamdan Colony, Karama, Dubai costs Dh105, not including service. For reservations call 043964447. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and all reviews are conducted incognito.
Follow Arts & Life on Twitter to keep up with all the latest news and events @LifeNationalUAE