The Kabab Erbil Iraqi franchise goes from strength to strength, this Jumeirah 2 branch is their latest…and greatest. It’s certainly a far cry from the no-frills, cash only original in Al-Muteena Street. Located between Emirates Hospital and arch-rival Samad Al Iraqi Restaurant on Jumeirah Beach Road, this new restaurant occupies a whole building. The interior is very well designed, with a fully exposed facing of ‘Beach Road, lovely at this time of year.
Pride of place is taken by what is sometimes called, the Fire Alter Room, where the famous Semeç Masgûf (سمچ مسگوف) is slow cooked around a wood fire/alter. Masgûf is freshwater Carp, an oily fish indigenous to the Tigris-Euphrates and the de facto national food of Iraq.
Although Kabab Erbil Iraqi offers a menu full of Iraqi (and Kurdish) specialities, it is the Semeç Masgûf you MUST try. Call to order your fish an hour or two in advance, a larger 3kg – 3.5kg fish (good for four) will typically need around an hour something to cook. You might want to order a small fish and also order some of their famous kababs, but I never do, the fish is just too good. Like Samad next door, these boys too are true masters at cooking Masgûf; our fish was brought to the table perfectly cooked.
Service is very, very good. Thankfully the entire staff speaks English so don’t worry about getting help understanding the menu if you are a first-timer. Free valet parking is available (just drive up and honk), although there is plenty of parking available around the back. If you have not yet tried Masgûf, this is an excellent venue to try it for the first time. Prices are reasonable; (depending on season) the price per kilo should be around AED75-ish.
With two Iraqi heavy-weights sitting next door to one another, the jury is out to decide which is better. Samad is the posher of the two. It also feels a little more rushed, most certainly a little more…pretentious. And that’s why I prefer Kabab Erbil Iraqi…a little more.
Waste NOT. Want NOT.