Toraj, which is an old Persian word meaning bitter orange, is Dubai’s newest Iranian restaurant. Sandwiched between the Bosnian Grill and Spar Supermarket on Hessa Street, its interior is split between a full-length glass-walled kitchen and a dining area with the gaudiest gold framed furniture imaginable. There’s an additional full-floor dining area upstairs with an adjoining (still incomplete) private dining room. The owner is from Shiraz but, more importantly, so is the chef, and that is reflected in the menu with favourites like Kalam Polo (a famous Shirazi rice dish with cabbage and meatballs) and Āsh-e Shirazi (a thick soup or potage made with herbs) gracing its pages. Typically, an alternating dish of the day is available every day of the week.
Not since Feri Classic Marina have I had such good Kabab Koobideh in Dubai. In fact, all the kababs at Toranj are good but their koobideh is in a league of its own. So too is their insanely good Shevid Polo ba Gardan (braised lamb neck with dill rice). I’ve also tried their Ghormeh Sabzi and Khoresh Bamiyeh and would happily order them again. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t blown over by the āsh (or aush, depending on how you pronounce it) finding it too thick. Each main is accompanied by freshly baked flatbread, a bouquet of sabzi khordan, a truly delicious vegetable soup, mast-o khiyar and a proper salad Shirazi (made by a Shirazi) making it amazing value. All said, the good news here is that the food is really, really good.
The welcome at Toraj is friendly but you’d expect that from a newly opened restaurant. The problem with Toranj, in my humble opinion, is that the restaurant has almost zero ambiance. It looks and feels like a giant kitchen which also serves food. Personally, I have no problem with that, but I know others will. The other problem is that these boys are not tech-savvy and as a result, are not hooked up with any delivery services as yet – no Zomato, Deliveroo, Talabat, etc. They rely on a small fleet of their own which, on the one occasion I used it, was surprisingly efficient and punctual. Call 050-2401020 or 04-3305775 for delivery, take away or catering, something else they specialise in. If you’re looking for really good Iranian food, call or visit Toranj – they’re worth it.
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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.