Kite Beach
2 D Street, Umm Suqeim,
United Arab Emirates

03rd January, 2018

Salt. Fat. Acid. Heat.” – A Netflix Original Documentary

The titular characters of this Netflix documentary play a key role in the presenter’s quest to find an answer to the question – “What makes a good dish great?” Episode by episode, we (the viewers) discover that these characters are more than just ingredients; they are the four building blocks of the culinary world. Every great dish is built on a basic yet firm foundation, and at the heart of this foundation is the interaction between these four characters.

Alright! That’s as far as I’ll go with regards to the documentary. I must confess that I really haven’t watched it. The above paragraph was written based on the documentary’s ImdB profile! If you do happen to watch it (out of your own free will) or read the book on which the show was based on, let me know what you thought about it (or don’t), or better yet write a review!

Hold on a minute! I’m actually not quite done yet. While the show does possess four titular characters with each one, arguably, given even screen-time, one in particular, I believe, deserves a longer story and a place in this blog’s introduction. I’ll give you three guesses! It is the first element in the title – and so happens to be the name of the food truck I will be reviewing – Salt! I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait until I find restaurants named after the other ingredients and review them.

Do you remember Philoctetes? The half-human, half-goat (played by Danny DeVito) who trained Hercules and whose most memorable line in the animated movie was “Rule #95 kid: Concentrate!”. I’m pretty sure there were definitely more rules but none as memorable as that one. So, imagine every chef – celebrity or otherwise – strutting around their kitchen yelling, as loud as their lungs would take them, at every cook “Rule #1 kid: Season!”. Because that is the first rule of cooking – season your food! Especially with salt! Just ask the guy in the gif.

One of my favourite proteins happens to also be one that features prominently on Nusret’s (yes, that’s his name!) “salt” videos as he extravagantly demonstrates the art of seasoning one’s meat. I know what I said! Salting beef is an essential process of preserving the flavour of the meat during the searing, the cooking, and the eating. A well-salted beef is the reason why I keep ordering the damn thing, even if 9 out of the 10 doctors warn you against doing so. It’s also the reason why I chose a burger joint for my next meal with friends…or once again just a friend.

Talking about friends, if one (or more! No need to brag!) should approach you for your advice on a trip they are planning to Dubai, I would highly recommend you tell them to plan their visit during the months of November to March. Unless you really don’t like them, in which case, my advice would be to tell them to visit in June, July, or August. “The weather is just marvellous.” (Entirely sarcastic!) Honestly, though, there’s nothing like winters in Dubai. The weather isn’t as cold or frigid as say Western Europe; rather it’s akin to a pleasant and breezy spring afternoon in the UK. It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to go on a long road trip, or dine outside at a restaurant, or take long walks in the park, or even snuggle under a blanket and read a book at home. What it does not, however, make you want to do is grab your car keys and drive down to a beach! Imagine the cold, crisp wind seeping through the tiniest of nooks and gaps in your shirt and jeans, creeping up your skin, and the rough sand coursing and settling at the sole of your shoes. Brrrr! The stuff of nightmares, am I right? And yet, we found ourselves standing, foot in sand, in the middle of Kite Beach waiting in line for our burgers.

Five years ago, John W. Henry – owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. – tweeted the following: “What do you think they’re smoking over there at the Emirates?”. This was in reference to an audacious bid made by Arsenal Football Club for former Liverpool player, Luis Suarez, though the same could be asked about our trip to the beach in the middle of winter. What on earth were we thinking?! “We’ve got some time to kill before the Arsenal Chelsea match. Do you want to grab a bite before we go to the pub?” – That’s what we were thinking (rather, not thinking)!

It was a cool, crisp, yet pleasantly pleasant winter evening in Dubai and we were driving towards our dinner destination. With the windows rolled down, the wind striking our cheeks with the impact of a Rocky Balboa right hook, and the voice of Dan Reynolds (Imagine Dragons) echoing through the unending night sky, we let the car slide into the parking lot at Kite Beach. Standing under the dim moonlight, its board burning bright against the darkness of the waterfront, was the food truck where we were to dine at – SALT.

 ( From top to bottom ): Original French Fries; Original ( Double ) Burger; Chicken Cheetos; Brownie Softie
(From top to bottom): Original French Fries; Original (Double) Burger; Chicken Cheetos; Brownie Softie

As is the norm with most (if not all) of my previous reviews, this was my first visit to the food truck. However, what this was not was my friend’s first visit as well. I don’t think this was his second either, or third. You get the idea. So, it made perfect sense for me to ask him as to what he thought the best dishes were on the menu, as we waited our turn, standing in what was an unusually short order line at the food truck (even for a weekday!). My query was met with a swift response – “The Chicken Cheetos and the Original”. So, when we finally reached the end of the queue (or is it the start?), and it was our turn to order, we didn’t hesitate even for a second second. While we awaited our burgers and fries to arrive at the pass, we surveyed benches placed around the food truck, clicked a few pictures of the picturesque walkway, found a bench that was completely free, sat our bottoms down on the cool wooden bench, and proceeded to slyly film a family play a precarious game of Jumbo Jenga or Jenga Giant – whatever the big one is!

Our food was ready in a matter for 15 minutes, which was understandable given the crowd that was there before us. I was too lazy to get up from a seat that I just grown comfortable on, and so my friend begrudgingly got up and walked over to the food truck to bring us our order. When it arrived, I noticed the burgers were all served in one tray! Yes, they were that small. To call them burgers, in hindsight, would be committing a crime of culinary mislabelling. Henceforth, I shall call them ‘sliders’ as their size would indicate. Each of these sliders were nestled inside a small white paper bag. To say that I was surprised upon seeing them would not be a true statement for I was given due warning during our wait in the line. Boy! For a short queue we sure had plenty to talk about.

The decision to order two sets of sliders was to enable us to have a go at one of each, as one order of a dish provided us with two sliders. I already told you that beef is one of my favourite proteins, so it only seemed fitting that I devour it in the end. Saved the best for the last (as ‘they’ say!). The first burger was probably the more interesting one on the table – the Chicken Cheetos. I was more than slightly skeptical on the flavour combination when I first heard of the burger (again, in the line), but my fears were allayed as soon as I sunk my teeth into the burger. The fried chicken patty was crispy on the outside yet moist and succulent on the inside. It was probably a good thing that the chicken was simple in its marination – salt and pepper – as the inclusion of the cheetos bits added the kick of spice that the dish totally deserved. I don’t normally talk about the garnish, but the lettuce was crunchier than it is in most fast food joints and the cheese was the perfect counter to the spice of the cheetos to give the entire slider a balanced feel. The only disappointment was the size, which I earlier noted I was prepared for. It took not more than 5 bites before the slider vanished from inside the paper bag.

Before I could feast my hands on my second slider – the beef slider – and devour it in possibly fewer bites, I decided to help myself to a palate cleanser, or in this case the French Fries. Most fast-food chains may pride themselves on perfecting the ‘burger’ or concocting a ‘secret sauce’, and some of them do succeed, but I’ve found that while the entire focus is on the burger, the side of french fries tends to be overlooked. On more than a few occasions have I found my side of fries to be overly seasoned (do they pour the entire salt bucket?!) or completely under-seasoned or simply mushy and soft. So, before I could pop in a finger-full of these fries, I was praying (to the culinary Gods) for a perfect set of fries. Just like the weather outside on the day, the fries were perfect! Each one was seasoned properly and I don’t recall any one chip being mushy and soft. Instead, they were golden brown and crispy. The French would have been proud! (had they invented the damn thing) Having popped the fries like a couple of tic-tacs, I thought it best to turn my attention to the beef slider.

We spoke earlier about salting the beef and making sure the meat is perfectly seasoned before they are seared and cooked. It was time to test whether the chefs at Salt adhered to their food truck name. The first bite told me all. It was perfectly seasoned! However, unlike the previous slider, it lacked the creativity and flavour that I was hoping for. In simple, yet hopefully not brutal words, it seemed a glorified McDonald’s double cheeseburger. While some of you might take that as an insult, I personally love the cheeseburger from McDonald’s. It’s the closest to comfort fast food than any other fast food food. Sorry about that! Though the patties were seasoned and cooked through and through, it just felt that I had paid a questionable amount for a McDonald’s burger. After a slightly disappointing second meal, what I needed was a picker-upper. So, when it came time for desserts, and I had the option between a Lotus and Brownie softie (ice-cream in winter??), there was no way I was going the healthier route (why stop, am I right?). We placed our order and proceeded to stand by the dessert counter and watch as the Salt staff began to swirl in the chocolate softie over a very “healthy” piece of dark chocolate brownie.

With the softies ready and sat on our table, we began to admire the beauty that is chocolate. Little did we realize that the wind was about to gather unexpected pace, and it nearly knocked our softies out of their cups. Fortunately, our years of playing football and cricket weren’t lost on us, and we managed to hold on to our precious desserts! This time, there was no pause for admiration! We grabbed our spoons and began to scoop up as much chocolate as we could. While the brownies weren’t as warm as I would have ideally liked them to be, they were still soft and moist in the centre. With every bite, my sugar levels moved one step closer to catching my pre-existent salt levels. But that didn’t bother me one bit! It was delicious and I wanted more! Fortunately, the good sense in me prevailed and I knew it was time to call it a day. Looking across the table, I knew my friend had the same thought.

We slowly propped up from our bench and made our way back to the car, shoveling sand off our shoes with every step. Based on my friends’ prior visit, I was of the opinion that the burgers at Salt weren’t value for money; that their sliders were priced relatively high as compared with other burger/slider joints. While the implementation of the VAT scheme did little to reduce on those prices (in fact it increased them!), I still felt that the food truck managed to deliver on quality (substance more than style). The only drawback from the evening was surprisingly the beef slider, which in all honestly suffered from a lack of creativity rather than on actual flavour and cooking technique. It was certainly worth another visit, but I wasn’t sure whether I would order the same sliders or have a go at something different. Perhaps I’d go the healthy option and add a little lotus to my brownie softie. Although this time it wouldn’t be on a cold winter day!

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

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