Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ramadan in Dubai 2016: 7 Iftars To Try

Woah! I can't believe we are already halfway through Ramadan. I know, it just goes so fast right and yet here I am, posting a blog about Iftar previews I tried before Ramadan. Life sometimes gets in the way and I cannot help it but I won't let this season finish without having to share with you all the wonderful Iftars I've tried.

All of the Iftar previews I went to at the beginning of Ramadan serves buffet except for one. I am blessed to received many invitations and I am truly grateful.

If you are going to any Iftar buffet, I encourage you to take just enough of what can be consumed by the body instead of the eyes. There have been reports I've read in the newspaper of how much food is wasted during Ramadan which deviates from its true sense. I do hope that something can be done to address this issue.

Ramadan is the time of giving, togetherness, and reflection. It is a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset where our Muslim brothers abstain from food, drinking, smoking and sex. This is done primarily to cleanse one's body and spirit of all the earthly pleasures.

It also means families and friends gathering at the dinner table at sundown every day either at home, in a restaurant or F&B outlets at hotels around town. There are so many places in Dubai to dine and we are spoiled with options.

Here are some of the Iftars we've tried and what we say about it.

1. Iftar Preview at Dusit Thani Hotel Dubai


The first Iftar preview I attended this year was at Dusit Thani Hotel Dubai Al Wasl Ballroom. This Ramadan, Dusit will welcome you for Iftar at the 24th Floor of the hotel with three participating restaurants, The Californian (International), Benjarong (Thai) and Pax Ristorante (Italian) for the price of AED 149 per person.

The Al Wasl Ballroom is also open for bigger groups and corporate bookings. They have special rates for 50 pax and above at AED 110 per person. For reservations please call 04 3174515 or email dine.dtdu@dusit.com.


Dusit Thani Dubai never fails to impress. We had the pleasure of dining with them numerous times and we have always been satisfied. This Iftar preview gave us the idea of how the actual Iftar will be this Ramadan and I'm sure you're going to love it.

The beautiful setup including a Bedouin style seating, Arabic teapot (I am not sure if it's an ice carving though it looks like one) and the lavish spread of food is simply amazing.


There are premium dates, dried fruits, and nuts of every kind and my favorite Ramadan drinks lemon mint and jallab. 



There's the warm and hearty Lentil Soup and Tom Yum Gai to start with. Thai spicy beef salad for a starter with thin slices of tender beef is a must try. It is spicy but it will jump start your appetite for the rest of delicious dishes on the spread. If you do not fancy spicy dishes, there's an array of cold mezze, fresh salads, and appetizers that are just as tasty to start your dinner with.

I tend to overdo appetizers but not this time. I only had a small piece of each of kibbeh, cheese roll, and dolma; a dollop of humus and moutabal, some fresh fattoush salad, a slice of smoked salmon and caprice salad.


Apart from the fork tender and flavorful lamb Ouzi, Dusit prides itself with their super delicious red duck curry best paired with steamed rice. I also had a piece of beef medallion and a serving of the vegetable lasagna.


In these tagines were chicken freekeh, stuffed baby marrow, and chicken wings.


For desserts, um ali, cheese kunafa and qatayef asafiri bil-kishta are my choices but they have plenty of options you can choose from.




2. Iftar at Centro Sharjah

Centro Sharjah is a beautiful Rotana property just beside the Sharjah International Airport. We were here last year for an Iftar preview and an overnight stay and we only have good comments to share.

This year's Iftar preview was hosted once again by my blogger friend Deepti Chandak of Jive With Deepti (now a PR company) in coordination with Centro Sharjah Hotel management team.


We begin the preview with a cake decorating competition with the guests divided into 7 groups. Each group was given a sponge cake covered in white frosting as the base. Then we were given three to four different colors of frosting to use. The theme is, of course, Ramadan 2016. Each group made some wonderful designs and the winning team received a one-night stay gift voucher from Centro. We didn't win though but it was a fun competition and we all had a good time decorating our cakes and bringing out our creative side impromptu.


Cake Decorating Competition Winner

The unlimited Iftar buffet with live cooking stations at Centro Sharjah is served at c. taste restaurant, Centro Sharjah's all-day dining restaurant at AED 99* only. Suhoor at AED 80 and 20% discount is given for group bookings of 10 and more.


The food was served a la carte for the bloggers that night but the buffet was also open with a variety of food choices.

We started off with a warm and hearty bowl of lentil soup and some good selection of hot and cold mezze served on our table


I was surprised with myself to like this lamb dish Kousa Warak Enab cooked with stuffed vine leaves and stuffed baby marrow. I don't normally eat lamb chops that are not grilled but this one is good.


The lamb thareed was also delicious, it is similar to our beef caldereta. The lamb meat was fork tender and it was very flavorful


The dessert station was filled with Arabic and International desserts. This year, I rekindle my love for Um Ali hence it is always on my dessert plate these days.



3. Iftar at Hyatt Regency Creek Heights Dubai

We've been to Sufra on a Friday Brunch once before and we had a good dining experience. When I was invited to try their Ramadan offerings, I confirmed and took two of my closest for dinner.

The staff, chefs, and management team of Sufra warmly welcomed us.

Iftar at Sufra at Hyatt Regency Creek Heights consists of a selection of regional Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian and Western specialties. Signature dishes will include freshly produced mezzes, salads, kebabs, wood-fired and oven-baked fatayer and sawani, Iranian mixed grill, Turkish charcoal meat and Greek Kleftiko. 



Iftar buffet as the cost of AED140 per person including Arabic juices, soft drinks, and water. AED70 for children between 6 and 12 with those under six eat for free.




What we love the most was their live cooking station where freshly grilled lamb chops and chicken skewers are cooked.


Never leave without giving these desserts a try. As much as I love tiramisu, I didn't touch it since I stopped consuming coffee instead I had Um Ali and few Arabic desserts.




4. Iftar at A La Turca - Rixos The Palm

The Iftar preview at A La Turca at Rixos The Palm was by far the fanciest Iftar I've been this season.

At the entrance, we were greeted by these decorative dates and Turkish delights.




A La Turca serves Turkish food with a mixed of some international cuisine. One hall is just for the buffet spread, outside is a live grilling station and there's a separate dining area for the guest





I started with some lentil soup and some Arabic mezze then moved on to the main course. Apart from the huge selection of delicious Turkish dishes, A La Turca has a live BBQ station with prime cuts of T-bone steak, beef tenderloin, and lamb chops. It was a crowd favorite. You simply chose your meat, put it on a plate and take it to the chef at the grilling station outside. We were asked to come back after 6 minutes and our meat was ready to take down.


While waiting for the meat to cook, we went inside to order pasta


The steak and lamb chops were very flavorful and don't require any BBQ sauce or anything and the pasta was its perfect pair with a glass of lemon mint juice.


Iftar at A La Turca AED 185 per person. Children age 4 – 12 years dine at half the price.
Children age younger than 4 years dines for free.
For reservations call +971 44575454 or email @ dine.dubai@rixos.com
Suhour at A La Turca; prices vary as per menu selection, From 10:30 pm to 2 am

A La Turca's sweets department is a must try to complete your Iftar dinner and go home with a goofy smile on your face. Trust me, works all the time.




The Ottoman candy with flavors of apple, cherry, lemon, strawberry and mango was a hit among kids


Dondurma or Turkish ice cream was a crowd-pleaser. It was creamy and satisfyingly good. I asked for two different flavors I think it's vanilla (or maybe coconut I am not sure) and pistachio.



5. Iftar at Al Khaima - Arabian Courtyard Hotel

If you are looking for some Asian (Indian and Pakistani) and Arabic fare this Ramadan, you can head down to Dubai's ancient cultural district and diplomatic enclosure to find Arabian Courtyard Hotel that offers Iftar buffet at AED 85 per person (AED 43 for children over 5).

Al Khaima Hall is located on the 1st floor of the hotel, the Al Khaimah Iftar is scheduled to run daily for the month of Ramadan from 7 pm to 10 pm. Call 04 3519111 for details.


This time I discovered a new favorite and very comforting soup. It is called Haleem - it is a slow-cooked porridge-like broth made of wheat, lentils, and meat- a traditional staple at Iftar tables in the Indian subcontinent. I traded my favorite lentil soup to this and I'm not disappointed. It really is very delicious, actually, I'm craving for it right now.


One of my other favorite in this Iftar buffet was the pakora station, I learned to eat pakora some eight years ago and I always look for it every Ramadan. The vegetable pakora is similar to Philippines okoy, only it is spicy due to its Indian origin.


Shawarma station


The main course includes chili chicken, chicken kadai, afghani pulao, samak hara, chicken machbous, and beef nihari. I tried most of the ones familiar to me like chicken kadai, machbous, and the mixed grills





For dessert, I had some luqaimat and um ali.


6. Iftar at Liwan and Shayan at Al Ghurair Rayhaan

The last time I had iftar at Liwan was in 2014 and it was nice to be back but this time around Al Ghurair Rayhaan opened Shayan where they served Persian and Lebanese cuisine for Iftar. We were seated at Shayan, it has a more intimate setup and the buffet spread is simpler that Liwan nonetheless the food is good.





Iftar buffet is priced originally as 139 AED per person but can be availed at 89 AED/person when you download a special coupon from Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana website





7. Iftar at The Gallery at BurJuman Arjaan 

Last but not the least, an Iftar dinner at The Gallery at BurJuman Arjaan with my family. 

Ferald and I embarked on our weight loss journey in late May and since Ferald promised me that he will stick to his low-carb diet, this was the first Iftar dinner that he'd join me. It was his cheat day and it's as if the world was favoring him, we were surprised that The Gallery actually has a 4-course set menu for Iftar and not the usual buffet they used to offer. He was happy, we were all happy.



The 4-course set menu is priced at AED 79/person.

After we heard the evening prayer, they started by serving some dates, dried fruits and infused water on each table to break the fast.

Each of us chose a different set of salad for a starter so we can sample all.


Everything was fresh and this was the best kibbeh I've had so far. It was fresh, crunchy and still warm from the fryer.






Mica and I ordered shish tawouk while Prince and Ferald had grilled fish. If I knew that the grilled fish was so good I would have had the same. The shish tawouk was not bad either.



Choosing dessert was easy. Either you want um ali or a platter of fresh fruits. We all had um ali except for Prince who want some fresh fruits.


the Um Ali was nice and warm, very comforting and good way to end a good iftar dinner.


So that's it, 7 iftars you can try this Ramadan. Be sure to check out these Iftars with your family and friends.

Ramadan Kareem!!!

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