Say, “Food hall” and gourmet quality doesn’t usually spring to mind. But, listen up! Zaitouna has totally raised the bar when it comes to the concept of combining a variety of food options in one brilliantly designed space. Just think, no more arguing over who wants to eat what. There is an eclectic range of outlets, all serving the spacious, airy courtyard area. The best news is that they are all home-grown initiatives, so don’t expect to stumble across any of the endemic global food chains here.
Seating options range between tables and comfortable colorful chairs, wooden tables and benches; all giving an easy view of the open-kitchen outlets. We loved the wall-sized murals, and the upbeat music selection that streamed directly from Dubai. We heard that there is live music at least five evenings a month, and it was so high-energy at the launch party that everyone was up and dancing. Zaitouna is family-friendly; kids can play to their hearts content at Club Liko, located at the end of the courtyard, but still within eyesight of mom and dad.
So, what about the food? If you are in the mood for Mexican, head towards Gringo’s. Yummy local Egyptian street food? Try Zouki-T. Crazy about Thai? Sabai Sabai of course. Love Scandinavian open sandwiches? You shouldn’t miss out on Rustik. Burgers, hot dogs and wings? Fat Cow, of course. For club sandwiches with a unique twist give Stacked a try. Lorenzo serves up authentic Italian pizza, and Mounir has traditional Lebanese dishes that beg to be tried. Fans of feteer should check out Zaza, it has great grills and sandwich wraps as well. And don’t skip Soul, its wafer-thin super healthy beet, sweet potato, carrot and potato crisps went down a treat with a selection of excellent dips. Wash your meal down with a selection of beverages from Liquid and you are good to go.
Clean, fresh flavors and top-notch ingredients are the big draw here. Rustik truly is a breath of Scandinavia.
Danish open-faced sandwiches, salads and yoghurt parfaits. The menu is concise, so count everything as being a signature item.
We felt like mixing it up a bit, so ordered a platter with a selection of various sandwiches. The presentation was a picture of freshness, with vibrant colors against a simple wooden board. Each combination offered a different taste treat: Roget Laks with smoked salmon, green beans and dill on a cream cheese base, Fisketfilet with fried fish, fried capers and dill resting on a remoulade sauce, Aeg Og Rejer with shrimp, boiled egg and dill on sour cream with a dainty slice of lemon as a garnish. Then on to Leverposte, a delicious concoction of chicken liver pâté, garnished with beef bacon, beets, berry chutney and orange zest, along with Kalkunbryst, with sliced turkey breast, pickled cabbage, orange slices and orange zest, Kyllingsalat, a creamy dollop of pulled chicken breast, sautéed mushroom, green beans, sour cream and mayonnaise. The final sandwich, the Kartoffelmad, sealed the deal with a slice of potato topped with roasted tomato, beef bacon and dijonaise. Mouthwatering!
Everything delivered a unique bundle of flavors and textures, with the home-baked goodness of the bread base providing just the right balance for the toppings.
Other Menu Options that Appealed
Next time we would love to try the salads, maybe the Spinach Salad with apple, red onion, Feta cheese and slivered almonds.
Price range: Moderate
Soul Chips & Dips at Zaitouna
You can kiss unhealthy mass-produced crisps and snacks goodbye. Soul brings you something much better. Wafer thin crisps made from sweet potato, beet, carrot and potato, along with an addictive range of dips! They are great for munching in front of the telly, perfect as party food for kids or adults, and so brilliantly packaged they could make a welcome gift for any hostess instead of those ubiquitous sweets. The box comes in three sizes, to suit any appetite and situation.
To be honest, we couldn’t decide which crisp came out tops, they were all good, and tasted blissfully healthy. You can go with just potato, or sweet potato with or without salt, or mix it up with a combination of all. It is the dips that elevate the experience to another strata. To tempt your taste buds: Green Hummus, Minted Peas, Minted Beets, Dill and Green Onion, Spinach, Tomato Chutney, Pickled Lemon Tahini, Aioli, Herbed Mayo, Green Nham Jim, Wasabi Cream, Blue Cheese, Walnut Pesto or Mexican Salsa. You also have the option of adding Chicken Cubes or Beef Cubes, but we were more than happy with our mixed selection and dips. The Green Nham Jim was a Thai blend of piquant and sweet with a herby punch, and we could happily demolish jar after jar of the Tomato Chutney. Where would you start?
If sugar cravings are getting to you, go for Green Apple with Sugar and Cinnamon. Choose from Hazelnut Chocolate, White Chocolate or Salted Caramel to make the dipping experience complete.
The arrival of Sabai Sabai is a boon for all fans of authentic Asian cuisine on the west side of town, the quality and wide range of dishes are just what we needed. Mainly Thai, with a wide selection of traditional favorites, lovers of Chinese dishes will find a menu to select from as well. And not to be missed, Vietnamese glass noodle rolls, stuffed with crunchy vegetables.
Signatures Dishes & Dishes Sampled
The Vietnamese glass noodle spring rolls are a hit, as well as the other noodle dishes. We would say, just go for it, try something new and you will not be disappointed.
We wanted to try some old favorites as well as explore some new dishes, so we kicked off with Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Salad. The chicken was tender and just right for dunking in the piquant peanut sauce, which we would have liked a little more of, may we add. That made way for a plate full of crisp Spring Rolls with their hot, sweet chilli dip. Always one of our ‘must have’ dishes, they disappeared in a flash.
Even if they look a little unusual, the Poh Pia Viatnam, Vietnamese glass noodle spring rolls with peanut topping were a hit with all of us. Crunchy and fresh, they were a nice balance against the fried and grilled items. Everything was quite filling, so we opted to share a Kang Keaw Warn Kai, or Thai Green Curry to you and us. The tender chicken with cubes of eggplant was fragrant with basil, a subtly spiced dish, rich with coconut milk, this will be a must on any return visit. We also couldn’t say no to the Khow Pud Koon, perfectly seasoned fried Thai rice with shrimp. Another hit, in our opinion.
Other Menu Options that Appealed
Next time around we would love to try Pasta Tom Yang Kung, Thai fusion noodles in a spicy hot and sour mix with shrimp, lemon grass, mushroom, galangal and fresh coriander. Pla Salamon Nueng See Eew, a steamed salmon fillet with fresh sliced ginger, sweet chilli, spring onion and soya sauce would be on our list as well, along with Kaeng Phed Ped Yang, roasted duck in Thai red curry sauce with coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil.
Worthy of note: Our meal came on traditional blue and white Thai crockery with traditional pewter cutlery, but you can request it packaged to go, so any leftovers can be whisked off home rather easily. Takeaway and delivery are both available.
Price range: Moderate
Tel: 0100 170 2827/ 0100 562 2210
By: Mariam Elhamy
Zaza at Zaitouna Food Hall serves everyone’s favorite Egyptian food, including feteer, sogok, shawerma on coal, hawawshi, kebda, and halawa bl eshta. The slogan is, “A taste of real food”, and that is exactly what you get. Looking to satisfy our craving for Egyptian food, we headed straight there.
Signatures Dishes & Dishes Sampled
Zaza is very proud of its savory mix cheese and chicken fajita feteer, its mixed grill platter, and its sweet Custard & Cream feteer.
We tried the Sogok sandwich, which was perfectly seasoned and cooked with black pepper and a nice lime twist. Then we tried the Kofta sandwich, which was coal-grilled to perfection, the meat was tender and the onion added a bit of flavor to the mix. Last dish we sampled was the Chicken fajita, made with red and yellow peppers and sweet onion to balance out the flavors of paprika and cumin. Not oily or heavy at all; the sandwiches were made in soft tortilla bread with a side of tahini and tomeya.
Other Menu Options that Appealed & Beverages Available
We were too full to try out the feteer but we had our eyes on the hotdog feteer, Kiri cheese feteer, halawa feteer and eshta feteer, for next time. Soft beverages are on offer.
Zaitouna Food Hall is vibrant and uplifting, with natural plants and colorful graffiti covering the walls. It’s quiet, unlike any food court at a mall and the tables are comfortable and not arranged too closely together.
Clientele mix: We went for an early dinner at about 5 pm and there were a few school and college students. The place suits families with kids, with a very convenient play area. It’s also a great place to go with friends with varying tastes thanks to the diverse food options.
Price range: Moderate, the quality of the food is great.
Working hours: 12 am – 12 pm
Address: Zaitouna Food Hall, Galleria 40 – Sheikh Zayed
Tel: 0111 111 2475