Abu Dhabi’s Najd Palace is a homegrown franchise of restaurants specialising in Khaliji and Arabian cuisine, especially but not limited to mandi. My son and I were there to try their mandi and madfoon. This Dubai branch is located in a stand-alone building on Jumeriah Road, beside First Abu Dhabi Bank and rivals from RAK, Madfoon Al Sadda. Attention please – there’s plenty of free parking within the restaurant compound so don’t waste money on RTA parking outside (like I did).
Where mandi restaurants are concerned, Najd Palace’s interior is nothing less than five star. The upstairs is dedicated to floor seating, with an abundance of private cubicles available for families. There’s also a large public majlis for those wanting to enjoy communal dining. The downstairs, where we ate, is dedicated to conventional table and chair dining.
Our meal started with Fahsa, a traditional Yemeni meat stew which was served bubbling from the heat of the hot cast iron dish it arrived in. It came with a side of fresh flatbread which we broke into scoops to eat the Fahsa with, be it after repeatedly blowing to cool it.
The Fahsa was followed by the customary meat broth served before mandi. It’s my litmus test for whether or not the mandi will be good. If the broth is good, the mandi is usually good. This was great.
Our mandi and madfoon arrived in fancy serving dishes with lids which were ceremoniously lifted off as the dishes were placed before us. I was disappointed to find my madfoon had been taken out of the parcel it was cooked in. But that was soon forgotten as we tucked in, my son with his hands, me with two plastic spoons (I was later given a plastic fork). The rice was fluffy and perfectly balanced, spiced but not overpoweringly so. My son’s mandi meat was, in a word, succulent. Another word – delicious. Another – amazing. My madfoon less so, much less – hmm.
No matter how much we eat, we have to end our meal with kunefe. Unable to choose between cheese and cream, we ordered both…and mint tea, of course. OMG! They were excellent, especially the cheese kunefe; the salt of the cheese contrasting with the sweetness of the sugar syrup – oof! oof! oof! I would come back for the kunefe alone.
Throughout our meal, we were looked after by Mohsin, a super friendly, always smiling, eager to please young Moroccan. He kept a close eye on us, the only non-locals in the restaurant, literally anticipating what we wanted. I have actually been to one of the two original branches in Abu Dhabi. Although I liked the food at the original more, I prefer this one. And that’s because of Mohsin. He made all the difference.
My son loved his mandi and said he would be back for sure. And that’s even though one of his favourite mandi restaurants is sitting next door. Najd Palace is definitely one of the best mandi restaurants in town and well worth a detour.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.