Eat Like A Local: Abu Dhabi

Nolu’s is definitely worth the drive!

I have always found myself describing meat as beautiful. When I was 7 years old I remember coining the term “laham jameel” [beautiful meat] to describe what is commonly known as filet mignon. It occurs to me now that this may be a little odd. How can you taste something and have it characterized as beautiful, when beauty is so strongly associated with what can be seen? Like a painter’s visual prowess, I am more attuned to my sense of taste. This is my craft.You can find beauty conventionally, e.g. what can be perceived. But I feel beauty in it’s most abstract sense when I’m enjoying my food. Not like, *tosses hair back* “Ooh I’m so beautiful mmm *yum* steak”. Just in the sense that, for the moment, everything is right in the world. And that this animal didn’t die in vain. By now you may have gathered that I’m more of a carnivore than a piscivorous eater.(I’m so sorry vegetarians.)

Here I speak of the Black Angus Beef Kabob, served with Afghani brown rice and a side of marvelous yogurt. If anything is worth a 35 minute drive from mainland Abu Dhabi it’s this. Not to pick up your family at the airport. No. This. (I’m kidding, love you fam…) I won’t go into too much detail but I’ll just say that if this is good enough for the head honcho in town, then it’s good enough for me. (HH.MBZ)

For starters, the Afghani dumplings came highly recommended. Dumplings may seem normal to some but they’re an acquired taste for me as I’m not a huge dumpling fan. Ok ok I’m not a fan at all. But I can admire the beauty of the Mantoo. Look at it, just look at it will you! This is just one dumpling (I think you get 4-5). The herbs, the beefy sauce, the yogurt. That is one good lookin’ morsel of Mantoo (cue wolf whistle.)

There’s even a ‘customize your own burger’ option. The beef itself is wonderful but yet again the bun fails to measure up to its contents. If its going to be a carb day at least make it worth my while! (Who am I kidding? Everyday is a carb day!) I think what I didn’t appreciate was the messiness and inconsistent placement of ingredients. I get some pickle, some onion, some sauce. I like a little of everything all at once. But I get it if they’re trying to be spontaneous, never the same bite twice! Ha! Kind of exciting really. Multi-dimensional food is cool wouldn’t you agree? Over all I was very satisfied, it was delicious.

The desserts aren’t on the menu but if you ask your server or walk by the display I’m sure you won’t be able to resist. The chocolate cake is everything you could ask for from a chocolate cake. True to its DNA, it was chocolatey and creamy and RICH. I was very pleased with my order until I had a little taste of the cheesecake. Mmmm that no bake cheesecake! It’s like the ones you used to make as a kid with your mom or aunt…but BETTER!! [Why do I feel like I’m insulting my own childhood here?] Sooo creamy, sooo sweet, sooo good! I could swear there’s a hint of salt in the crust, which we all know salty/sweet combos are a heavenly mélange. I thought I had won by ordering the chocolate cake. I thought I won… I didn’t.

Oh and if you want to end your meal with a dose of funky, order the Moroccan mint tea. I’m not sure what to make of this. At the time I was really into the color mint green. So when I saw this gliding by our table to our neighbours’, I asked the waiter for “one of those.” It looked pretty. And proved to be a very photogenic beverage. But *sigh* it was weeeird. Like Loch Ness swamp water weird. I believe its a mix of black tea with milk, vanilla, and what I think is mint syrup. Syrup! Props for the (blasphemous) creativity but this little funkalicious specialty tea combo just didn’t work for me. No sir.

The children’s menu looked good! I commend them for the ‘Nothin’ but butter’ pasta option. They do know their little clientele’s taste very well. Oh the times my little brother asked for ‘just pasta, no sauce’ and the servers would look at us quizzically. Kids want what they want, and Nolu’s knows how to deliver to the young and young at heart.

I’m excited to go back and make my own pastrami sandwich, try the Cobb salad or have a weekend breakfast. I foresee an everlasting future for Nolu’s on the Abu Dhabi dining circuit. It didn’t win best restaurant for nothing.

Written by Hessa Al Khalifa

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