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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Seven unusual yet tasty street-food bites at Eat the World DXB in Dubai

Eat the World DXB is in full swing this weekend, with 25 international street-food traders from the United Kingdom, the United States and Singapore serving up street food with vendors from the UAE (each street food trader is cleverly marked by its country’s flag). Held in Burj Park with a close-up view of the Burj Khalifa, the festival has plenty of food on offer, a host of cooking demonstrations from local and international chefs, an entertainment stage, a kids’ zone and more. But the focus, as always, is on the food. Here are seven of the tastiest — and most unusual — bites on offer at this year’s Eat the World DXB fest, which runs through 11pm tonight (Feb 24) and from noon to 11pm tomorrow (Feb 25). Dh50 at the door, Dh40 in advance. www.eattheworld.ae

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The Cheese Truck, UK

This British food truck is dishing up three grilled cheese sandwiches at Eat the World, along with cheesy, truffled fries with rosemary as a side. I went for the French goat’s cheese sandwich with honey, walnuts and rosemary butter. While it’s a bit on the thin side, this sandwich is big on flavour. The rich goat’s cheese — which doesn’t messily melt the way cheddar might — strikes a perfect balance with the sweet, salty, crunchy combination of the honey and walnuts. One of my favourite bites of the night. Dh40

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Sushi and Seoul, USA

This truck specialises in innovative sushi and Korean-inspired street fare. Unless you’ve been to Orlando, Florida to visit this food truck, I’m going to bet you’ve never had an octopus lollipop before. Or at least one that tastes like this. You’ll get four citrus-braised baby octopuses charred with a blow torch (while you watch) and served on a stick. Finished with ponzu and smoked paprika, the octopus lollipop comes with a healthy serving of seaweed salad. By far the most interesting bite I tried at the festival, this lollipop is one of the truck’s bestsellers. Don’t miss it. Dh45

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Chef Shen Tan, Singapore

This food trader has made a mark for herself in Singapore, first with her signature nasi lemak. But chef Tan is confidently serving up one dish only at Eat the World — laksa noodles (spicy noodle soup). Served in a cup, you’ll get a heap of noodles buried in a spicy, flavour-packed coconut broth with prawns, chicken, lemongrass, chilli, fresh coriander and more. It’s a generous portion with just enough spice to keep it interesting. Dh40

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Crabbieshack, UK

This food truck won the Best of London at the British Street Food Awards in 2014 and is considered one of the best food trucks in the UK. It’s famous for its signature soft-shell crab burger and that’s just what I ordered (there’s a king prawn burger and crab fries on the menu too). The crispy fried soft-shell crab, served in a soft bun, comes smothered in sweetcorn salsa, chipotle and lime mayonnaise, lettuce and fresh coriander. It’s a mess to eat, but worth every napkin you’ll need. It’s delicious. You can add red chillies (I ordered them on the side) to kick up the intensity of this unique burger. Dh45

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The Peached Tortilla, USA

The must-try bite from this Austin, Texas street food trader is the pad Thai chicken taco, though there are other tempting bites on offer as well, including a Korean steak taco and kimchi queso steak fries. For the taco, the chicken is marinated in chilli and garlic and then stir-fried in a pad Thai sauce. All that flavour is packed into a soft tortilla with fresh coriander, green onions, crushed peanuts and sprouts. Squeeze lime over the top to add some acidity and you’ve got a taco worth talking about. This is as palate-pleasing as street food gets. Dh35

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Kerbside Gourmet, Singapore

This popular Singaporean street food trader is offering chilli crab bao, shrimp dumplings and vegetarian spring rolls at Eat the World. Order them separately or get the platter for Dh80, which gives you two of each. I opt for the chilli crab bao, which I’m told is Kerbside’s bestseller. It’s easy to understand why. These sticky buns are packed with sweet chilli crab and topped with spicy sauce and scallions. The spice in the sauce adds some balance to these sweet parcels of joy. I love them. This one wins my favourite bite of the night. Dh45

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Gossip Desserts, UAE

This Emirati-American-European fusion cafe, founded by Emirati Shayma Fawwaz, launched a few years ago in the UAE. Gossip is serving savoury mains at Eat the World with bites such as pulled beef sliders, lobster rolls, quinoa salad and Parmesan truffle fries, but I was drawn in by the desserts: four varieties of milk cakes served in little glass jars. I tried two — the plain and the pistachio. To make these, the sponge cake is baked for 90 minutes and then soaked in milk. The plain version feels like comfort food — simple vanilla flavour with a creamy texture and ultra sweet finish. It’s good, but I like the pistachio better. The nuttiness in the mix, enhanced by crunchy pistachio crumbles on top, balances out the sweetness. These are a bit pricey at Dh25 per jar, but this is a smartly portioned sweet way to end your Eat the World feast. Dh25 each

sjohnson@thenational.ae

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