Bu Qtair is famous in Dubai. It has been showcased on BBC World and on Anthony Bourdain’s No Limits Show (the pre CNN series). It is so unlike anything else in Dubai and is a perfect place to take visitors from abroad to show the non-bling side of Dubai.
Set in an old corrugated iron giant shed thing, it was rough but clean (what we didn’t see wouldn’t harm us…). The menu was limited to fish in masala (Sheri and Hamour being the main fresh fish choices) and prawns in the same masala. You got to choose the fish, kilos of prawns and then wait for an hour for it to be fried. Once ready, your name would be called and you would be given a plastic table to sit on with plastic plates, paratha, fish sauce and cabbage salad. Whilst waiting, we would sit on plastic chairs and drink a cup or two of tea and people watching.
Now that has all changed. The cabin/shed thing has disappeared.
The restaurant has moved to the opposite side of the road to a purpose built restaurant (see above). The system for ordering is the same. Queue (for bloody ages) to order fish and prawns. pay the guy, wait in the designated waiting area, get your name called, sit at a table and eat.
Whilst waiting in the order queue you will be pushed out of the way by passer-bys who want to go clean their hands in the sink. Due to non-excellent planning the sink for washing the hands is beyond the order queue. Not clever.
There are seats inside but this area was overrun with customers who had ordered and were waiting for their food. The actual waiting area is outside past the purpose built dining area. A lot of customers didn’t see or understand the concept of sitting in the waiting area (which now has proper benches as well as those old plastic stools to sit on).
It is not clear by the staff or the signs that all customers have to wait in the waiting area and that their name will be called out by the staff. They will then be given a table to sit on.
It was amusing to watch the customers trying to grab tables and then being told to move off the tables for customers with food. However, it got to the point that the waiters were practically begging these people to move off the tables and facing a lot of attitude. I stepped in twice to reassure customers that they would get a table once their food was ready.
The restaurant needs to have a poster or massive sign explaining the process for eating at the restaurant: ordering, buying drinks separately, waiting, sitting and eating. They can read the process whilst waiting in the really slow ordering queue.
The food was the same as normal, although our prawns were a bit cold. So (as another reviewer mentioned recently) same same, but different location.
Is it worth visiting. Absolutely. Do you need to have more patience than before. Yes. We got there for 7ish on a Monday. After that, it was heaving with people. It might be due to the holiday season and cool weather, but it could be the norm now.
On a side note, we wandered around after eating and found a restaurant practically next door selling the same concept, called Al Fanna. The place was completely empty for some reason. It seemed to be very new and I can’t vouch for the taste of the food, but it looked exactly the same as Bu Qtair. Maybe worth trying next time.
Enjoy if you do go visit Bu Qtair.
© 2015 Shelina Jokhiya | All rights reserved – This post is provided for the convenience of Shelo’s Cheeky Rantings readers. Any reproduction of the content within this feed is strictly prohibited.