When you think of the best Nihari, grills, barbecues, and curries in Dubai, the name that comes to mind is Dubai’s Daily Express Restaurant. In business for more than two decades and open all seven days of the week, this is a name in the food business you can trust.

Sangeet Raj and Junaid Rehman Image Credit: Supplied

Sangeet Raj and Junaid Rehman, co-partners of Daily Express Restaurant believe in pure quality, no-refrigeration of cooked food, and no pre-prepared gravies or curries. Freshly cooked delicacies from the tawa to table is what the owners have strictly followed. The restaurant has now expanded all over Dubai and cover majority of the prime locations such as Karama, Barsha, Deira, Dubai Silicon Oasis and Dubai Investment Park. Be it a quick business lunch, a casual dinner, a large office party or celebration with family and friends, Daily Express has always lived up to the expectations of its loyal customers.

Excerpts from an interview with Sangeet Raj and Junaid Rehman:

Junaid, you are from Pakistan, while Sangeet you are from India. As Business partners what binds you both despite coming from different countries?

We have been friends for more than 30years. Having lived in an amazing city like Dubai which is a cultural melting pot, the thought of us coming from different countries has never even crossed our minds. Except, of course, when there is a India Vs Pakistan cricket match!!

What dishes are a must try at Daily?

We have a limited menu as we do not want to offer scores of dishes just to try and fill up a menu. Most of our dishes are being served for more than 20 years and they are much loved Dubai residents. Our all-time favourites are behari kebab in the BBQ section , nihari and biryani in the main course, mutton peshawari and daal maakhni in the curries and kheer in desserts. These are our time-tested best sellers!

 You have been in the industry for more than two decades. What is the secret of your success?

No compromise on quality, it’s as simple as that!

How do you differentiate yourself from competition?

Quality is the key for success in the restaurant business. To give you two simple examples – We serve only fresh Indian mutton which is costly compared to other mutton options available in the market. A lot of other restaurants compromise on mutton quality or even serve beef in place of mutton which brings the cost and price of the dish down significantly. We do not do anything of the sort and serve only 100 per cent fresh mutton. Second, a common complain we have from our customers is that our food gets over! This is because we have a strict policy no refrigerating our cooked food. We cook onsite, thrice a day for breakfast lunch and dinner in a limited quantity. There is no storing of our food for later use and we do not have prepared curries or gravies.

How has the pandemic effected your business?

Initially it was chaos! Our sales dropped drastically during the lockdown, while our fixed expenses remained the same. We have more than 100 staff members, most of whom have been with us since over a decade. So besides rent and other fixed expenses, we had to pay salaries, provide daily meals and accommodation, while our sales were down by 90 per cent!

How did you manage to survive?

We are blessed with loyal customers who have continued to support us during the pandemic. Our staff also played a major role. We have always stood by our staff during their tough times for the last so many years, and this time around they fully supported us. Most of them approached us on their own and offered to work without salaries to support the company during the lockdown. It is only because of them we were able to survive this terrible phase.

What is your outlook for the future of the restaurant business?

Things are better now! I am glad to say we have reached 95 per cent of pre-Covid-19 sales. The full credit for this goes to the Dubai Government for taking such swift actions. In Dubai you hardly realise that we are in the midst of a global pandemic.

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