West Wharf Tower,
Abraj Street, Business Bay
United Arab Emirates

25th December, 2017

A Festivus for the rest of us!” – Frank Costanza

In 1997, Dan O’Keefe, scriptwriter for the popular TV sitcom – Seinfeld – was peer pressured into mixing his personal life with his current work “life”. In doing so, he brought to our screens a fictional (or made up!), yet completely real and surprisingly believable festive holiday – Festivus! Festivus was introduced to us, by way of description, as a somewhat anti-Christmas holiday. The Joker to Christmas’ Batman. Instead of the green and decorated Christmas tree, we had the Aluminium pole; instead of the turkey dinner, we had meatloaf (the food, not the singer!); and instead of thanking the Lord, we had the airing of grievances. And who better to introduce the tradition to us than someone who I perhaps can best describe as Ebenezer Scrooge’s estranged cousin from Queens – Frank Costanza (played by Jerry Stiller). According to Frank, Festivus was all about dodging the pressures and commercialism of Christmas. In other words, he just didn’t want to spend his money on gifts for his family. Bah, Humbug indeed!

Taking a cue from Frank, I decided to invent my own holiday. No! It’s not because I was pressured by the commercial aspect of Christmas. The truth? I could say you can’t handle it and be totally clichéd, but frankly, it’s because I was bored! Given that most Christmases were spent in Dubai, I decided to give my holiday a Middle-Eastern twist/theme. Thus, the Dubmas was born! No! Not Dub-smash! (Sigh! Millennials!) Dubmas – A Dubai Christmas! With the name settled but not yet patented, it was time to decide what the rules were on this festive occasion. A tradition! So let’s walk the walk I walked that day and see if that could become a tradition for future Dubmases.

It was a pretty warm day, even for winter in Dubai. Rather than spend the day indoors, with the air-conditioning on full blast, the fam and I thought it was a good idea to visit the zoo. Yea! The zoo! And not just any ordinary zoo. We decided to go to one of the biggest zoos I have ever been to. The newly opened Dubai Safari. So, the best part of the day (and Christmas) was spent waiting in line at the ticket counter, then walking in and out of different ‘“villages” in the zoo, staring at animals laze away on a sweaty afternoon while we devoured our cold ice-creams and hydrated ourselves. The only saving grace was that the plan was concocted with our neighbours and so we weren’t the only ones suffering in the heat. After an arduous afternoon, we made our way past the exit and headed towards the car. As we walked, we began to discuss our plans for dinner. None of us were particularly in the right frame of mind, but we had to eat (at some point!) and so we decided it would be best to have a nice, light meal at a restaurant we had never been to, that hopefully offered us a nice view. It wasn’t too long before we landed on a place that ticked all of our boxes – Nuraï!

What better cuisine to have on Dubmas than Middle Eastern, am I right? We arrived at the chic Middle Eastern café at half past seven in the evening, though with the sky already pitch black you could be forgiven for thinking it was later. Located on the edge of Business Bay, Nuraï is enviously sat by the banks of the Dubai creek, providing diners seated outside with a landscape view of the hustle and bustle of Downtown Dubai, nestled in the centre of which is the bean-stalk like structure of the Burj Khalifa. We approached the café with slight trepidation of the café being full, given that it was Christmas and most of Dubai would be outside chilling. Fortunately, we were seated with minimal complaint and wait, and we began to enjoy the cool evening breeze and the misty landscape view of Dubai.

When the time came, we placed our order. There was no first course, second course, etc. Well, there was dessert, but we’ll not count that for now. We decided to place our entire order at once, which given the fact that we were seven people was a tougher ordeal – both for us and the waiter. It took a few rounds of “What are you having?” and “You tell, no you tell!” before the waiter finally managed to get everything in his notepad.

“Can I repeat your order? Four Pacific Passion, One Spring Roll, One Spicy Potato Wedges, One Hummus & Kawarma, One Soujouk, One Kafta Platter, and One Moussal Apple. Yes? Thank you!”

Even while writing the aforementioned order, I wondered how we managed to leave the restaurant on a full stomach (Spoiler Alert!) having ordered so little.

 ( From left to right ) - Hummus & Kawarma; Spring Roll; Spicy Potato Wedges; Kafta Platter; Chocolate Fondant; Nuraï Iced Brownies
(From left to right) – Hummus & Kawarma; Spring Roll; Spicy Potato Wedges; Kafta Platter; Chocolate Fondant; Nuraï Iced Brownies

The Pacific Passion(s) were the first to arrive. If you’re wondering what the hell a Pacific Passion is, it’s nothing but a Fruit Punch-inspired mocktail – pineapple juice mixed with passion-fruit and mango syrup and fresh strawberries. While this certainly sounded like it would make a very refreshing drink, which I needed after a long afternoon, it was slightly disappointing when the first, second, and third sips from the straw dealt me and my tastebuds with nothing but strawberries. Along with the Pacific Passion came the Moussal Apple. Now again, what in Saint Nicholas’ (Santa Claus’) beard is a Moussal Apple? Again, not too complicated! It’s just the flavour of the Shisha my sister and I had ordered for ourselves. The most surprising thing, apart from the fact that I could still blow out rings like I used to, was that it wasn’t me who ordered the Shisha. It was my younger sister! Which, I have to admit, did take me by surprise. There’s not much that I can say about the shisha. It was my first after a very long time. It was rough for a few rounds but eventually smoothed out once the coal heated to its maximum. The flavour was certainly present and overall it made for a relaxing past-time, with the weather as it was, while waiting for the food to arrive.

Fortunately, it wasn’t too long before it arrived. To summarise, I would say that the food, while not exceptional, was adequately pleasant. Now bear in mind, that I had puffed a few rounds of the apple shisha and my tastebuds weren’t at their best. Despite that, the accounts (testimony) of my tastebuds would still be described as reliable and trustworthy and would definitely hold up in the court of law.

The Hummus was one of the highlights of the evening. The spices and Tahini were blended perfectly, and the texture was smooth as it was supposed to be. The Soujouk was pretty flawless as well. The fried sausages simmering in a thick onion and tomato gravy was similar to past experiences I’ve had with the dish. The spice wasn’t too overpowering, and the only drawback was that I had to share it with four other people. Similar to the Soujouk, the Kafta platter was unsurprisingly tasty. The kebabs were soft and tender, but could have (in my opinion) been slightly warmer than they were. The side of fries were crispy, warm, and well seasoned. The skewer of cherry tomatoes and onions was unnecessary. They seemed quite raw and I didn’t think they went well with the kebabs. The pita bread, an essential component of any kebab platter, was plain and not spiced as I would have thought it should be.

In terms of the vegetarian dishes on the plate, the spring rolls seemed quite boring from the outside. Even as I write this, I’m wondering why on Earth we decided to order spring rolls at a Middle Eastern restaurant! The crust wasn’t golden brown and crispy as you would normally associate with a spring roll. The filling, however, was surprisingly delicious. However, that doesn’t make up for the fact that it hardly resembled a spring roll. It was a similar experience with the Potato Wedges. While I expected the wedges to be somewhat resembling those you would get at a Nando’s or at a burger joint (like HRC), what instead arrived at our table resembled an Indian potato appetizer. That’s not to say it wasn’t delicious! The spices worked well, and the potatoes were warm and juicy on the inside. Though, to describe them as potato wedges was stretching it a wee bit too far!

We still had plenty of room for dessert, and so we placed our order with the waiter upon his arrival to our table. “Can I repeat your order? One Chocolate Fondant, and Two Nuraï Iced Brownies. Yes? Thank you!” Yea, I know! Lazy writing! The desserts, similar to our previous course, was good but not brilliant. The chocolate fondant was at it was supposed to be – well baked on the outside and a gooey hot mess on the inside (an apt online dating profile). Though, before I get to the taste, there was one thing that irked me from a visual point of view. The squirting, squiggly lines of chocolate and caramel sauce drizzled across the plate on both desserts seemed quite amateurish. It’s a design that would’ve been in fashion nearly a decade ago, and should’ve been extinct a decade ago as well. The desserts (both of them) seemed like they were made by professional chefs but plated by eight year olds. Perhaps it was a ‘Bring your kid to work day’! Like I said, the chocolate fondant, in terms of taste, was nearly flawless. However, the iced brownies were a little tough to get through. I didn’t think they literally meant ‘iced brownies’! The brownies weren’t as warm and soft as I expected them to be. On the contrary, the brownie bites were cold and stuck to the ice-cream. You really had to work your way through this dessert.

After gnawing our way through the brownies, the kids (myself included!) decided to take a stroll by the creek and enjoy what little was left of our Dubmas night, while the parents haggled amongst themselves for the check. I’m not sure if a trip to the zoo and a dinner at Nuraï would become a Dubmas tradition, but it certainly was a good, entertaining, and tiring start. The dinner at Nuraï was not exceptionally wonderful, but it was certainly good and well worth another visit, just for the views and the shisha. It’s the kind of place you would want to hang out after a long day in the office on a pleasant winter’s evening. With the check paid, and our iPhones satisfied with the number of pictures taken, we decided to call it a day and head back home. No Airing of Grievances, no Aluminium Pole, and no Feats of Strength (another Festivus tradition)….well, not yet!

Nurai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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