Ashrafi has been recommended to me repeatedly over the years. It’s just stuck in such an awkward location, especially now with all the construction going on and the near impossibility of find parking during the day, that I never got around to visiting it. Evenings are better. So, this time I dropped someone off at Terminal-1, I followed Google Maps through the Millennium Hotel’s entrance, down the back streets of Garhoud, past the temptation of Karachi Darbar next door, to Ashrafi’s.
I arrived just as the Maghrib prayer had started. It was interesting to find the restaurant closed with all the staff assembled near the entrance for Salat al-Jamaat (praying in congregation). It’s a long time since I’ve seen that in modern, cosmopolitan Dubai. Walking into Ashrafi was like stepping into a time machine set for the 1970’s or 80’s, the only tell-tale sign of the present day was the flat-screen TV…which was playing (of course) cricket. Perhaps because of the early hour (it was just before 19:00), I was the only customer there. So, I ordered a takeaway.
I ordered an Egg Biryani, Daal Makhani, Bhindi Fry, Bhuna Gosht, Butter Chicken and a couple of Rumali Roti and plain Nan.
My order was taken by the smiliest of waiters who, because he wasn’t the most fluent in English, kept switching into Hindi pronounced with an English accent. This was so comical that I didn’t let on that I understand Hindi, letting him communicate as he felt best. If it weren’t for this determined young man I would have had to endure the longer than expected wait for my food with nothing but cricket to keep me occupied. Instead, I’d throw a couple of questions to him every time he’d come to ask if I needed anything…and quietly giggle at his explanations. Brilliant.
The food though was a total let down. Only the Bhindi Fry was any good, just. It made me wish I had given into the temptation of going to Karachi Darbar next door. From some of the raving reviews, Ashrafi’s gets, I must assume my experience was just a fluke, or maybe it was simply that the kitchen hadn’t woken up from its afternoon slumber. Whatever it was, the food simply wasn’t on par with any of the budget restaurants I have visited, starting with, but not limited to the one next door.
Waste NOT. Want NOT.