Not one but two of my long-standing food buddies recommended I try Rubban Al Khaleej Restaurant in Muroor the next time I visited Abu Dhabi…for the best mandi in the world, they said. It was one of these two gentlemen who introduced me to mandi in the first place, I had to take this seriously. Thanks to the map on Zomato it was a doddle to find but sacré bleu, what a nightmare finding a table. I walked in to Rubban which was chockablock at its lunchtime peak, and smelly, bustling and noisy with activity, with this dainty young lady in her early twenties (my son’s friend who I was helping pick up a car) – the looks we got ranged from shock to contempt – all though were priceless.
Thankfully, a Pathan took pity on us and stood up from his table after only wiping half of his plate clean with scooped fingers and walked off to the back of the restaurant to wash his hands (I presume). An equally sympathetic waiter ushered us to sit – quickly. He promptly came over and peeled the thin plastic table cover off the table, plate, bowl, glass and all. He then spread a fresh table cover on and hey presto, we were good to go.
They were out of madfoon, my default order at a mandi restaurant, so we ordered mutton mandi and their special mutton dish – both with rice. The complimentary meat broth one is served before the main course at mandi restaurants is my litmus test for the main event; most times, if it’s good, the meal will be good too. Perhaps it was an ominous sign then that I did not think much of the broth. Nor did I like the (also complimentary) bowl of vegetable stew which is something unique to this restaurant. The salsa though was fresh, tangy and fiery, and made up to some extend for the other two.
I waited with baited anticipation for this famous mandi my friends recommended only to be bitterly disappointed with meat which was neither flavoursome nor tender. It was just fast-boiled mutton. The rice was good, but you don’t come a mandi restaurant for the rice, do you? In fact, this turned out to be one of the least memorable mandi experiences I have had in the UAE. Unless there is a significant change and/or Thanos makes all the other mandi restaurants in the world disappear, I will not consider coming back here.
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. 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.