Gunaydin Dubai claims to be the pioneer of the steakhouse concept in Turkey, and Chef Cuneyt Asan has a reputation for being the fastest butcher in the world. He is known among the butchery crowd as the Professor of Meat, and is also the mentor of viral star #SaltBae Nusret Gokce. So I was intrigued to find out what experience this restaurant could offer for iftar.
The breath-taking views of the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa made it an extra special evening. We walked into the restaurant at Souk Al Bahar in Downtown Dubai and trailed past the open kitchen that housed a display of fresh and dry meat being cured against a pure Himalayan salt wall.
As we sat down, we were presented with an elaborate selection of cheese, soups, salads and mezzes. There was a generous offering of orgo peyniri (braided cheese) and fistikli kebap (lamb kebab with pistachio). I particularly loved the adana kebap, a generous serving of chopped flavourful lamb kebab with Turkish spices and herbs, which stood out from the usual Middle Eastern mezze that we are used to eating during Ramadan.
The open kitchen concept allowed us to watch the chefs create a tempting range of kebabs and grill specialities, which were being prepared to be served as our main course. It included a large platter of succulent meats, which were cooked perfectly. I definitely enjoyed the kusbasili pide — its thin crust is crunchy and the mixture of their tendered chopped beef with spices tastes wonderful. We were then served a lamb tandir to complete the main course. This baby lamb was slow cooked in the oven for several hours until the meat falls from the bones. Traditionally, nothing should be added to tandir, as the lamb should be plenty fatty on its own, but they served it with piping hot savoury Turkish rice on the side. The two complemented each other perfectly.
Then we ended our meal with some dessert, which was a plate of shredded wheat in syrup served with clotted cream and nuts known as fistikli kadayif, a well-renowned Turkish dessert with a twist. We also enjoyed a rose pudding and a baked rice pudding as well as their famous Turkish baklava. It was a sweet end to the meal. The fresh food offered at Gunaydin is usually accompanied with speciality teas.
Iftar at Gunaydin is generous and filling and has a big focus on meat. The food is made with high quality ingredients and each dish is accompanied with a special blended tea. We expected a unique taste of Turkish cuisine and that’s exactly what we got.
Where: Gunaydin Dubai, Souk Al Bahar
Price: Dh220 per person
Timings: Sunset until 9pm
Five other iftars to try
Where: Peppermill, Dubai Festival City
What: Tuck into Indian fare with a choice between Peppermill’s iftar set menu or its buffet. The set serves up delights such as karare palak chaat, while the buffet bowls over with nizam’s murgh korma.
Price: Dh99 per person for set menu and buffet.
Timings: Sunset until 11pm.
Where: Nobu, Atlantis The Palm
What: Order an a la carte iftar at Nobu Matsuhisa and sample its famous black cod or opt for the special iftar menu that serves up mouth-watering sushi.
Price: Dh270 per person for set menu.
Timings: 7pm to 11.30pm on weekdays; 7pm to 12.30pm on weekends.
Where: Majlis, Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel
What: Revel in luxurious settings and tuck into a heaving buffet of traditional iftar fare, with live cooking stations that may this a perfect setting for a family meal or a private dining experience.
Price: Dh129 per person.
Timings: Sunset until 10pm.
Where: Pharaoh Cafe, Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa
What: A wide selection of cuisines on offer, including Arabic, Indian and Pakistani grills. Don’t forget to try the Egyptian koshari, along with chilly pakoras and Umm Ali.
Price: Dh89 per person.
Timings: Sunset until 10pm.
Where: Nosh, Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers
What: Offering a blend of Mediterranean and international delicacies, this iftar buffet includes live cooking stations, ouzi, Arabic grills, shawarma and saj stations and more.
Price: Dh130 per person.
Timings: Sunset until 10.30pm.