Al Ijaza Cafeteria is one of those unexplainable culinary phenomena of Dubai. Located beside the Bint Al Murr Mosque on Beach Road (opposite Mercato) in Jumeirah 1, the only reason one would pay attention to this unassuming roadside eatery is the eye-popping line of exotic automobiles queued to pick up their shawarma takeaways. The outdoor only seating area is fine at this time of year but hellish in the summer; although they (thankfully) install blowers on either end of the dining area to keep diners cool. There’s a full-length chicken rotisserie just outside the kitchen area and shawarma spits just inside.
Al Ijaza is very takeaway orientated. In fact, I think their takeaway to dine-in ratio is probably around 100-to-1. It’s the coolest thing to watch. Orders will either be telephoned in or cars will pull up and give their order a runner. The orders are then processed and, after a couple of minutes, handed to the waiting cars.
Their signature shawarma is the three-bites-and-you’re-done, Hassan Mathar, which is basically a toasted shawarma with mayo, chili sauce, lettuce and cheese – that’s it. At AED7 they seem cheap until you consider their size and that the delicious IKEA shawarma is still only AED5. That said they taste delicious. You might also want to consider their Arabic Shawarma which is similar but not toasted. Al Ijaza is also famous for its fresh fruit juices and rotisserie chicken (which I have not tried). The rest, hummus, salad, etc. is not worth mention or ordering.
Service is fast rather than friendly, their staff obviously trained to process orders and diners in as little time as possible. So, is it good enough to justify all the hoo-ha? I think their little Hassan Mathar wraps are really good, not OMG fantastic, but good. The fact that our beloved Fazza, the crown prince of Dubai, occasionally visits Al Ijaza has given it a sprinkling of royal pixie dust. And it featuring in the Dubai-made film, City of Lights, may have given it a little celebrity. A phenomenon is something unexplainable and that’s what Al Ijaza is, a phenomenon. It’s also worth a visit if you’re in the area.
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Xerxes physically visits (and dines at) each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat and drink. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews. What you have read was not influenced in any way by the venue. Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on: email@example.com