Abshar, which means waterfall in Persian, is one of Dubai’s favourite Persian-Iranian restaurants. Sadly, the original branch in Deira was sold to rival Sadaf in 2016, leaving this Umm Suqeim branch as the sole flag bearer. Located in what looks like it once was a villa, the restaurant is well appointed and presentable, but is not likely to win any interior design awards. It boasts a small, stand-alone Sangak bakery (complete with pebble-bedded oven) as well as a confectionary and dried fruit and nuts shop at the entrance.
Abshar is very much an all-rounder, serving a decent representation of authentic Persian-Iranian cuisine. And while they do most things well, there are a couple of things Abshar does better than others, namely (and my absolute favourite) their Āsh-e Reshteh, a thick herb and noodle soup, hugely popular throughout Iran, which traces its roots back to Zoroastrian Persia…over two thousand years ago. Sadly, it’s only available on Friday. FYI, āsh rhymes with squash.
Arguably the best, and most authentic starter at Abshar is actually free…freshly baked, whole-wheat Sangak flat-bread (ask for an extra sprinkling of sesame seeds), feta cheese, fresh herbs (usually mint and basil/rayhoon) and walnuts…bah bah. Avoid the Hummus, Tabbouleh, Mutabal and Fattoush – none are remotely Persian or Iranian.
Abshar’s kababs are good. In fact, they serve one of the better Chelo Kababs in town. That said, I prefer their Bâghâli Polow; rice steamed with fragrant dill and broad beans, and served with slow-cooked lamb shank (Mahicheh). Their Khoreshts (stews) are very good, the Ghormeh Sabzi in particular. Abshar is one of the few restaurants in Dubai which serves Dizi or Âbgoosht; a one pot, two-course meal which has sustained the poor throughout Iran for centuries. Abshar serves the rich man’s version which is strictly non-veg. If suitable to your diet, I strongly recommend you try this, for the ceremony as much as for the meal itself.
Like many Persian-Iranian all-rounder’s, Abshar also has a daily special. Check what is available on the day you visit. If you are in the mood to try something from the south of Iran, consider trying one of their Biryanis. Iranian Biryanis are a distant cousin of the Indian version; much milder and closer to Mandi rice than a full-on Hyderabadi. If you do choose a Biryani, try the Maygoo (shrimp). It’s really good.
Vegetarians take note, there is a lot on the menu which is pure veg. Aside from all the yogurt dishes, there are two eggplant based dishes, Mirza Ghasemi and Kashk-e Bademjan, both of which are the perfect accompaniment with any of the rice’s as a main, i.e. Kashk-e Bademjan goes extremely well with Bâghâli Polow or Saffron Rice for that matter. Pescetarians too will find more for themselves on the Abshar menu than in other similar Persian-Iranian restaurants. Try the Pomfret.
Service is friendly, accommodating and very colourful with the female servers dressed up in flowing, multi-coloured native Persian-Iranian costumes. Their Friday-only buffet lunch is an epic event which only the Iranian Club can match for variety and authenticity. If you want to try a cross section of Persian-Iranian food, then this is certainly one of the best ways. Dessert? Really, after all that. Well, they actually have some lovely desserts, most notable being (my favourite) Sholeh Zard; a saffron-infused rice pudding, sprinkled with slivers of pistachio and almonds, and (my other favourite) Faloodeh. Bah Bah.