Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe

Local Emirati cuisine in nostalgic surroundings Discuss this article

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Tucked into a corner of the Venetian Village, within the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, you’ll find something that is not all too common in Abu Dhabi – an Emirati restaurant. We’ve been told good things about it, so we’re excited to get inside and taste the food.

We sit down in our own section in the outside seating area. We particularly enjoy sitting on a traditional Arabic majilis around a low-down table.

The staff are friendly, and we are impressed with the extensive menu – we want it all. To start, we choose the large mixed appetiser, which includes koftat samak (fish cakes), hobool (fried fish eggs in Arabic spices) and samboosa (a kind of samosa). We also order robyan mashwi (grilled jumbo prawns) and shorbat adas (lentil soup).

First out is the lentil soup. It has a vivid flavour and the lemon provided with it adds sharpness, while the soft flat bread is perfect for dipping and mopping. The mixed platter follows and our companion struggles with the strong fishy flavour of the hobool, not knowing it is fish eggs – it’s an acquired taste. The samboosa and koftat samak are served hot and go well with the dips.

We ask our friendly waiter what his favourite dish is and he suggests the Deyay Nashef – chicken cooked in a rich tomato sauce and Al Fanar’s special spices, served with a side of white rice or bread. We choose the bread as we already have some to nibble on and it’s delicious. Our companion chooses the Beryani Laham – mutton served with rice mixed with onions and raisins.

The mutton is cooked and served on the bone making it succulent and easy to cut. It is smothered in a blend of Arabic spices and goes perfectly with the moist rice it’s sitting on.

The chicken dish arrives covered in an aromatic tomato-based sauce and comes with soft, fluffy flatbread perfect for soaking up the plentiful sauce. Although tasty, our only complaint here is the meat to bone ratio. We prefer more meat to sink our teeth into, but that doesn’t matter, because just as we finish our mains, the grilled prawn starter shows up. And it’s huge. The prawns are plump and juicy having been char-grilled and the lemon adds more moisture and a citrus zing, complementing them perfectly.

Our friendly waiter tempts us with the dessert menu and we choose the Asidat Al Tamor (Arabic date pudding) to share. For something that looks as plain as a chocolate mousse served in a shallow dish, this is one of the most delicious desserts we’ve ever eaten. It is like the Arabic equivalent to a sticky toffee pudding, but without the sponge and with a rich date flavour.

When the bill arrives we are pleasantly surprised – we’ll be back for another hearty fill of fine local cuisine.

The bill (for two):
Large mixed appetiser Dhs45
Lentil soup
Grilled jumbo shrimp Dhs39
Deyay Nashef Dhs45
Beryani Laham Dhs52
Asidat Al Tamor Dhs 22
Total (excl. service) Dhs218

By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.


  • Location: Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi
  • Tel: 02 448 1144
  • Travel: Khor Al Maqta'a
  • Website
  • Cuisine: Emirati
  • Times: Open daily noon-midnight

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