A Member of the 88%
Today I learned that 88% of residents of the UAE
dine in mall food courts, which was no surprise whatsoever. (And that the waits for a table at the Cheesecake
Factory, which I'm still sore over missing by a few weeks, are as rough, if not
worse, than at any American location. Also, Cheesecake Factory is surprisingly
high on the wish list of a number of New York Times commenters.)
This empty warren of seats at the Mall of the
Emirates during Ramadan isn't technically a food court (there were two of those
elsewhere) but where you could dine "al fresco" if eating at the waiter
service restaurants just to the left of the frame like California Pizza Kitchen
and Chili's, as well as Iranian Pars, Lebanese Al Hallab and South African The
Butcher Shop & Grill.
In the real food court, late night for a second
dinner, I nearly took a chance on the Zinger Shrimpo dishes at KFC (Singapore
isn't the only country with weirdo shrimp on the menu) but decided that with
limited time it would be better to go homegrown. We hit the food court at Mall
of the Emirates late night for a second dinner.
Al Farooj is the UAE's popular fried chicken
franchise. I don't even know if I can call it fast food since it took close to
twenty minutes to get one spicy chicken sandwich, a.k.a. Xtra Fire.
Fried chicken, chicken
sandwiches and wraps that wouldn't be completely out of place in the US are its
main thing, but the sides are where it gets interesting. American jalapeno
poppers and mozzarella sticks mingle with more local tabbouleh, hummus and
stuffed grape leaves. We just got fries.
If I had one more sit-down meal at my disposal it
definitely would've been Persian food since that's scarce in NYC. Instead, I
settled for a mixed lamb and chicken kabobs at Hatam, an Iranian fast food
joint. The butter, that comes in a little plastic packet to drizzle over the (large
for me) serving of rice wasn't solid but liquefied like popcorn butter.
not getting to sample sangak, this giant Iranian bread, or fesenjan, the
renowned chicken, pomegranate and walnut stew, but this wasn't half bad for a
food court meal.