From small cafeterias and restaurants, international franchises of coffee shops and fast-food joints to a few home-grown eateries, the culinary scene in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) is quite a buzz. A variety of stand-alone eateries dot the entire community, while a few are centred around two community shopping centres – Souq Extra and Cedre Shopping Centre. The cuisines on offer are diverse — from Indian, Arabic and Japanese to Chinese, Thai, Italian, French and more. One can choose from international names as well, such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, or other brands like the French café La Brioche, and popular regional brands such as GrillO, Shakespeare & Co, Circle Café, Little Bangkok, Oregano, Man’oushe Street and Massaad Barbecue.
The cafes and teashops are where many youngsters in the community often converge. There is the ever-popular Starbucks, as well a few popular home-grown brands like Filli Café, CupaGawa and Cha Cha Chai. The Taiwanese tea-based milk drink, Bubble Tea, is served at the cosy cafe Waffle N Tea. One of my favourites is the Japanese restaurant Haru, which specialises in the robatayaki method of cooking. In fact, we have a family ritual to celebrate our special occasions at Haru’s. Tomato and Basilico deserves special mention too. Opened by two Italian brothers, the restaurant serves simple home-style Italian food using the freshest of ingredients. When our taste buds tickle for Indian savouries and traditional sweets, we hop into Indian sweet shop Puranmal.
Beyond specialty coffee
Kaffa Beans in DSO is a hidden gem. This specialty coffee shop serves all-day breakfast and dining. While the menu is curated and crafted with utmost care, a cup of coffee goes beyond just sourcing the right coffee beans or roasting them in-house. The founders of Kaffa Beans, Andy and his wife Meron, are self-confessed foodies and their Ethiopian origin (Andy is half Ethiopian and half Italian, while Meron is Ethiopian) have made them specialty coffee conscious. Every year, they visit the farms from where their coffee beans are sourced. Food ingredients at the cafe are sourced locally as much as possible, and everything is made or baked fresh in the kitchen, which occupies 40 per cent of the interior space. The kitchen is helmed by Kenneth Lester Buan, a talented chef who’s trained at the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA) Dubai. Today, Kaffa Beans has evolved beyond a specialty coffee shop and fine restaurant, it also serves as a one-stop consultancy shop for training baristas, distribution of coffee beans, menu management and the entire process of setting up a coffee shop. If you’re here don’t miss the blueberry pancake, pulled beef Benedict and egg with salmon and avocado from the breakfast menu; grilled Atlantic salmon and schnitzel from the mains; and the cakes for desserts, specially the coffee and saffron milk cake.
A late-night binge
Magic Corn is popular with students and young families. It is your neighbourhood cafeteria-cum-restaurant that serves comfort food at a reasonable price. Must eat: chicken pepper charcoal, chicken lollypop and mixed fried rice from their Chinese menu and mango falooda for dessert.
Local food legend
The Omar Abdullah Cafeteria at the Eppco gas station (Site 49) by the Dubai-Al Ain highway in DSO may not look very fancy, but the reason you need to stop by is to taste its kadak chai and chips Oman sandwich. The cafeteria has been here for a long time now and takes pride in making more than 800 cups of kadak chai and hundreds of Chips Oman sandwich daily. Must eat: kadak chai, hot dog Chips Oman sandwich (ask for the parotta version).