Street-food festival rolls into Abu Dhabi
A caravan of food trucks – 10 arriving from the UK – and an array of pop-up restaurants will hit the capital over three weekends next month as part of the brand-new Street Feast, which is part of the Abu Dhabi Food Festival. We have the lowdown on what to find:
From burgers and ice cream...
The street fair hopes to get more people queuing up for the latest food trend from the West that has been gradually showing up in the UAE. Visitors to the Street Feast will have the chance to sample gourmet burgers from Dubai’s food truck SALT – the UAE’s first burger truck – and Desert Chill, an ice-cream truck.
... to tapas and meat sliders
Make sure you come hungry because, for the first time in the Emirates, there will also be 10 UK traders serving up international street food. And they’ve spared no expense to get here: all 10 trucks are on board a ship due to sail into Dubai this week.
... and international flavours
Get ready for Pizza Pilgrims, Big Apple Hot Dogs, Indians Next Door (think delicious lamb raan curry in handmade naan wraps), ATE Street Food (slow-cooked meat sliders), Arabica Southern Fried Chicken (Deep South meets the Middle East), The Cheese Truck (gourmet, melted cheese toasties), Churros Brothers (traditional Spanish churros and chocolate), The Roadery (its menu includes ox cheek and a British halloumi sourdough sandwich), Donostia Social Club (Spanish tapas) and Yogusensi (freshly squeezed fruit juices).
A slice of Spain
Paul Belcher started his food truck – the Donostia Social Club – two years ago in the UK, drawing on his experience working as a chef in Northern Spain. “We call our food Basque-Inspired,” says Belcher. “We take the best of Spanish and French ingredients and give them a modern twist.” Belcher says his team plans to tap food markets in Abu Dhabi in hopes of incorporating local flavours in the dishes. In the capital Donostia will be serving lamb cutlets with pea purée, confit broad beans, anchovy and caper butter; king prawns à la plancha with shallot salsa & aioli; and truffled wild mushrooms with fried quail egg.” “Street food has got huge in the last few years due to people wanting a more affordable alternative to restaurants,” says Belcher. “This has also made street-food traders up their game as people want quality as well as value for money.”
Celebrities on the streets
Andy Bates, the host of The Food Network’s Andy Bates Street Feasts, is a main attraction of the festival. He will host a big chef demo every weekend, sharing tips with the public and cooking alongside other international chefs including Jun Tanaka, Aldo Zili and John Quilter as well as the local celebrity chef Suzanne Husseini and the Fatafeat TV chef and presenter Andrew Mitchell.
Bates says festivals such as Street Feast are an easy way to introduce new food to people.
“It’s a great way to try lots of different world flavours without having to leave your own zip code,” says Bates, adding that they provide “an opportunity for start-ups and small businesses to get out there and give it a go – without the overhead of rent, gas, electricity, contracts and landlords – and to engage with your customers face to face, getting instant feedback on dishes and building relationships”.
A taste of UAE restaurants
Local restaurants bringing the best of their menus to the fair with pop-up shops include Jones the Grocer. Debra Harte, Jones’ brand and communications manager, says: “The Jones brand is very suited to this style of foodie experience. The street-food scene has become one of the most exciting urban food cultures of this time. We’re excited to be a part of it.”
Akshay Dosaj, co-managing director of Purple Honey Group, which is behind Biryani Pot, says the festival gives the eatery a chance to meet customers in a different environment.
“Food festivals allow us to connect with our customers in a way that is not possible in the restaurants,” he says.
“People are happy to chat. We get a chance to interact with our customer directly and understand exactly what they like and how we can continue to bring them the finest food and service.”
• The Street Feast will hit the streets of Madinat Zayed in the Western Region from February 5-7; Al Ain February 12-14 and finish on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche on from February 19-21.
Updated: January 28, 2015 04:00 AM