Established in (wait for it) 1975 and self-described as Lebanese and Turkish, Al Sultan Restaurant & Grill is actually older than the UAE…and older than most people who will read this review. It is to Abu Dhabi what Ostadi, Sind Punjab, Chicken Tikka Inn and Ravi (to name a few) are to Dubai – culinary institutions. I am so grateful to my Emirati food guru, the great @yousefalulama for introducing this gem of a restaurant to me. First things first, do not even think of parking in the general vicinity of Sultan if you are a vegetarian…or even if you are one of those foo-foo, finicky people who doesn’t like the smell and/or taste of lamb. Al Sultan smells unmistakably (unashamedly) like…um, lamb kabab – anymore and it would start bleating and baaing! It’s one of those places which prickles your primal instincts from the minute you step in.
I stuck to what Yousef recommended – Arayes and Lamb Chops plus a mixed grill of Tikka and Kabab for good measure. And yes, the waiter did raise a judgmental eyebrow when I ordered all that food. He later raised both eyebrows in surrender when he found I had finished everything. Arayes, for those who don’t know, is the equivalent of a Middle Eastern burger – basically, it’s grilled kofta in pita bread and it’s insanely delicious. Sultan is probably most popular for its chops and although not quite Damyati level, they were as advertised – tender, juicy and perfectly seasoned. I liked the kabab (mini koobideh) more than the tikka but probably wouldn’t order either on my return – the first two are enough to achieve genuine culinary nirvana. Service is more chop chop than kissy kissy but who cares when the food is this good. Do not leave Abu Dhabi without visiting this place…
#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.