One would expect a Mohammad Orfali restaurant, especially one which carries his and his brother’s name and reference, Orfali Bros Bistro Restaurant, to specialise in Aleppian cuisine; something this charming, hugely popular celebrity chef is most famous for. But it’s not. If anything, it’s a collection of their favourite recipes and experiences from all over the world – his for the savoury and brothers, Wassim and Omar’s for the sweet. The result is nothing less than culinary bliss. Located in the swanky Wasl 51 complex on Al Wasl Road, it’s no surprise that the restaurant itself is dominated by a two-story kitchen (which reminded me of the “Toot Sweets” song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). There are only a handful of tables inside, no more than eight, so bookings are recommended….and hard to come by.
New to the already amazing menu are two masterpieces, Beef Stroganoff and an insane take on Filipino Adobo – Stuffed Adobo Chicken Wings. Throughout my youth, my favourite foods were Beef Stroganoff and Iranian Fesenjān. As I’ve grown from a boy to a man (and back to a boy again), I have searched for my reference taste of stroganoff…which came from three very different sources: the Imperial Country Club (“Bashgah-e Shahanshahi”) in pre-revolution Tehran, Manda’s ( @mandamakki ) mom and my uncle Shapour – sadly none are with us anymore. Yet through every mouthful of Orfali’s stroganoff I remembered something about them. That’s the power of food. Memories and emotions aside, the medallions of beef in OB’s stroganoff were cotton tender, and the sauce was creamy, savoury – delicious. Each dish at Orfali’s is a masterpiece and has its own story.
My ‘must haves’ are a long list: OB Croquettes, Eat H, Corn Bomb, Guess What, Ultimate Burger and the Burnt Leeks Truffle Pide – each are worth a thousand words especially the unbelievably creative Guess What. I also think the burger is (easily) one of the best in Dubai. And then there are the desserts. The OB Banoffee Cake is out of this world but if you really want to try something sinfully orgasmic – try the Umm Salah Torrijas – it’ll have you making noises like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.
Although Orfali is a casual dining restaurant, its service will shame many fine dining restaurants. In addition to the food, ambiance and service the other element which keeps bringing me back is Master Chef Mohammad himself. His experience and talent are what make Orfali Bros so good but it’s his supernova personality and unabated passion which make it great, and one of the best restaurants in Dubai – well worth a detour.
#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 him on his culinary journey on Instagram: @ravenousxerxes or reach out to him via email on email@example.com.