Reviewed: Waffle Burgers, Kunafa Shrimp and other global street eats in Dubai
It’s mainly known for its shopping and theme park rides, but Dubai’s Global Village has been attracting an increasing number of street food outlets over the past few years.
When it comes to street food, gone are the days that you need to travel to experience eats from around the world. An increasing number of vendors are signing up to appear in Dubai as part of the annual Global Village experience. With the 2016/17 edition coming to a close very shortly – 8 April, to be precise – we made our way to the venue to scout out the best street food options currently available.
Country of origin? India
Also known as ‘Round Gossips’, this popular Indian street snack is made up of a hollow puri (or golgappa) that’s fried and then filled with tamarind chutney, potato, onion and chickpeas. It’s served with a sour and spicy mint-flavoured water, known as pudina pani. Here, we sampled four for AED 10.
Country of origin? Morocco
Many countries sell buttered corn or corn in a cup, but for the North African and Arab region, grilled/barbecued corn is a winner.
At the Moroccan outlet we visited, we were served grilled corn topped with salt and lemon juice, which added a great twist to the version we’re used to.
Country of origin? USA
Beef burger served between two waffles? We didn’t realise it even existed. But it does.
If you fancy combing a juicy burger, salad and relish with dessert, then this AED 20 sandwich is a winner.
Country of origin? Iran
Not a street food per se, but head to the Iran pavilion at Global Village and you’ll find vendors selling these babies by the box load. Costing AED 25 per carton, Lina is a type of corn-based snack, that’s similar to Wotsits or Cheetos, but definitely richer in taste.
We asked one seller just why they were so popular.
“Apart from being affordable, they tend to remind people of home. It’s like a childhood snack.”
Country of origin? Saudi Arabia
For something sweet that’s healthy, then look no further than the Saudi Arabian pavilion, where they sell pretty much every type of date under the sun.
When we visited, we were met by an enthusiastic seller who was keen to run through all different types of dates.
“Our most popular variety is the Ajwa date,” he tells us, adding that many choose it due to its importance in Islam.
If you don’t like eating dates on their own, why not try them in a cake? The pavilion has teamed up with local bakery @tea_cake_UAE to sell this delicious creation.
Country of origin? Japan
Don’t be fooled by the name. This street dessert isn’t a traditional cheesecake. The Japanese version is best described as a combination of sponge cake and cheesecake that isn’t overly sweet.
Country of origin? Canada
Traditionally, poutine comprises French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy, but the stall we visited offered everything from British to Italian versions. We opted for a Belgian version (fries, ketchup and mayonnaise – added after the photo was taken), as we weren’t too keen on the curds.
Country of origin? Egypt
During a visit to Egypt, there are several things you need to sample – such as koshari, sugar cane juice, foul and falafel – but considering these are widely available across the UAE, we thought we’d go for a less commonly known street food: feteer. Although you’ll see it described in English as a pie, think of it less of a chicken pie and more of a pastry.
At this hut, the bakers tell us that they come to Dubai every year from the Egyptian city of Mansoura to sell their feteer during Global Village season.
“We’re very popular with the Khaleeji visitors and Egyptians, of course,” one tells us. “Everybody likes cheese and plain varieties, but a Nutella-filled one is now the go-to with the younger crowd.”
Kunafa Shrimp Tempura
Country of origin? No idea
And finally, we were unable to find out where the kunafa shrimp tempura originated – and the hut we bought it from was a UAE brand – but whoever invented it deserves an award. Why? In the words of Joey Tribianni, “What’s not to like?”
Friend shrimp? Good. Kunafa topping? GOOOD.