I don’t know who was more disappointed, Sheikh Mansoor, who at some point during our meal realised that Delhi, one of his childhood favourite restaurants, was NOT serving the food it once did, or me; having driven from Arabian Ranches, parked on the Corniche and then followed HRH on a wild goose chase through the back streets of Naif to find Delhi, only to end up having possibly the worst Pakistani food I have had in recent memory. Phew! I can still hear Mansoor telling me that this was Nawaz Sharif’s favourite restaurant in Dubai. Well, they didn’t do up the place for him, that’s for sure. Located opposite the Al Farej Hotel on 20th Street, Delhi’s interior was in dire need of a face-lift, but it was clean, I’ll give it that.
I stopped asking Sheikh Mansoor WHY a long time ago; I trust his culinary judgement implicitly – especially if he’s had a bevy or three. Perhaps that’s why I said nothing…even after he ordered a second biryani (chicken, the first was mutton) followed by a plain rice, making it three rice dishes…for three diners. He also ordered Chicken Handi, Beef Nihari, Daal Masoor (Channa to you and me), Bhindi and an Afghani Bread. I started with the mutton biryani. The meat was the revelation of the meal; pity then that this soft and tender mutton was let down by the biryani rice which I found over flavoured with clove. That said, I loved the fact that they had potato in their biryani. The channa was too dry, the bhindi too oily and the handi too bland. I didn’t bother with the chicken biryani.
Mansoor and I gave in to the sadomasochistic sugar cravings’ diabetics get after a meal and ordered Kheer, a Pakistani rice pudding which means penis (in a vulgar way) in Persian. It arrived to our childish sniggers, looking like baby gruel gone wrong – serves us right for thinking it would be any better than the rest of what we had ordered. Seeing that there were no ladies (or sensitive men) at our table, we made jokes about the kheer and giggled our way to the end of what had been a pretty unremarkable meal. Delhi may have been a fantastic restaurant when Sheikh Manoor was a young lad…even when Nawaz Sharif was Prime Minister, but it’s not today. There are too many amazing Pakistani restaurants in Dubai for either you or me to waste our time, money and taste-buds on anything but excellent Pakistani food. Consider other options.
Why is a Pakistani restaurant called Delhi anyway?
#1 Food Blogger on Zomato Dubai – 2018, 2019 and 2020
Xerxes (pronounced Zûrk’seez) 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 his culinary journey on Instagram: @ravenousxerxes or reach out to him via email on email@example.com.