Following the Tony Bourdain Trail


“I want Bu Qtair shrimp.”

After months salivating over No Reservations’ Dubai episode, I had to have it. And I also wanted to visit and eat at every restaurant Tony Bourdain conquered in that episode. Okay, I admit I am such a lame fan. Would you go this far to follow Tony Bourdain?

This lame fan planned poorly. Even if I wanted to have Bu Qtair shrimps within the 1st hour of our Dubai touchdown, I could not.  Bu Qtair Restaurant is only open at night (Doors open at 7PM as I’ve learned). And so I did wait…

Bu Qtair Restaurant

THE Bu Qtair Restaurant

Like they always say, Patience is a virtue. It is indeed. I FINALLY got a taste of them Bu Qtair shrimps. Marinated in an eerie orange mystery spice and deep fried in X-times used oil.

I <3 you Bu Qtair shrimps!

Oh, my husband ordered fish too. But I wasn’t there for the fish. I was there for the shrimps!

Fish bathed in the eerie orange spice rub

Bu Qtair Fried Fish

They served us an equally eerie orange spicy fish gravy and some “ruffage” (chopped cabbage, red onions and slivers of lemon) to accompany both the fish and the shrimps.

Orange Fish Gravy

Do yourself a favor and squeeze lemon over shrimps / fish

Rice is served at Bu Qtair, but is not recommended. If you want rice, better to bring your own or just take away the shrimps and eat with rice at home (Like what I did the other day…I couldn’t help it! I was craving for them Bu Qtair shrimps!). So we ordered a stack of paratha bread for everyone.

It was perfect. The shrimps. The gravy. The chewy, slightly burnt paratha. The desert humidity. Dubai, I am finally here.

Bait Al Mandi

Bait Al Mandi, Al Barsha

Another evening in our small and ravenous household, the husband decided to whisk me away to another Tony Bourdain spot.

The numbers to call for some Mandi to go :-)

The husband ordered the specialty of the house: the Mandi, an arabic version of rice toppings. It was meat on top of rice. So that’s rice toppings according to my dictionary. Hehehe! There were two variations of Mandi: chicken and meat (Is it mutton? Or lamb?). So we ordered both, so that I could try them.

Meat Meat Meat Meat MEEEEEAAAAAT!!!!

The Mandi came with a clear soup. I could not decipher what kind soup it was. But it was meat and spicy. A good prelude to the main event.

Intro: Clear Soup

They also served us a spicy, tomato salsa-like sauce and a cup of very, very thick yoghurt (it was almost soft cheese like in density). Yoghurt seems to be a staple in this side of the world.

Arabic Salsa

Yummy Yoghurt

Then came the Mandi. Or should I say: MANDI. Oh boy, the servings were good for two (or maybe even three!) people! Good thing the husband has a stomach of three-four “normal” people. Yes, he finished his gargantuan order of Chicken Mandi, ate some from my Meat Mandi and even ordered extra rice! Ayayay! The good thing was that extra rice is free of charge. Hooray!

Chicken Mandi 1/2

I actually liked the Meat Mandi versus the Chicken Mandi. Is the Meat Mandi tastier just because it is double the price of the Chicken Mandi? Hahahaha! Nah. I’m not just a chicken person.

So did Bait Al Mandi set the pace for the ginormous plates to come? Waaaaahhh! Learn more about Bait Al Mandi’s food offerings here.



After another long day of malling (Yes, this is apparently one of the favorite activities of Dubai-nites), Dodong took me to Ravi. I’ve done some preliminary research on Ravi. And it is one of the most popular Pakistani restaurants in Dubai. It serves delicious food that hits the spot, plus it is dirt cheap for Dubai standards.It was the wee hours of the morning and still people were piling up. And the food is enough reason to keep us up late.

Ravi Restaurant at 2AM

Full house outisde AND inside

My favorite was the Chicken Tikka Masala. Rich and spicy, but not the burning kind of spicy (at least for my palette). Best eaten with Naan bread to scoop up every last bit of gravy.

Ravi's Chicken Tikka Masala

Oh, if you find it too spicy for your taste, don’t worry. There’s always yoghurt to cool your taste buds with. This is yoghurt country right? :-)

Yoghurt AGAIN!

And of course, a big bottle of cold desert water plus a box a tissue at arm’s reach :-) Learn more about Ravi’s food offerings here.

This is the end of my Tony Bourdain trail. There is another restaurant though, Verre by Gordon Ramsay. But sad to say, that is beyond our budget. Maybe a few more months to save a lot of dirhams, I’d be able to complete the Tony Bourdain trail full circle. Or maybe somebody would be so kind to treat me there instead? Hahahaha!

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  1. says

    Love that you’re doing the bourdain trail! I completely agree – go to Bu’qtair for the shrimps, not as much for the fish. Did you try their heavenly chai??

    Gonna have to try Bait al Mandi, the one I like is called Al Tawasol, another mandi institution in Deira.

    Happy eating your way through Dubai! :)

    • Didi says

      @ Arva: I so love the shrimps. I promised myself not to eat in the same place twice. But I can’t help it. Oh I forgot that a bottle of beer would have been perfect. We Filipinos love munchees with our beer. But I love the munchees more than the beer. hahahaha!

      I did not try the chai tea. Did not know they had :-( I think you are a chai fan. You had tea at Singapore deli too!

      Hmmm I will ask the husband if we can try Al Tawasol as well :-)

  2. says

    I’ve never seen the Bourdain programme but you’ve made me want to seek it out. I agree the paratha is the best thing to go with the fish and shrimps at Bu Qtair. The chicken tikka and aloo paratha are the only thing I order at Ravis – we usually play spoof for the bill as it is so cheap (and the perfect place to watch the whole of Satwa go by).
    For a Dubai experience I recommend Eat and Drink in Umm Suqeim – just to watch the takeaway business alone.

    • Didi says

      @ Sally: You can view the links and / or search for the missing parts on the magical world of youTube. Thank God for YouTube!

      Ohhh Eat & Drink. If I’m not mistaken, do they have a number of branches in Dubai? Anything “special” I could try? Would love to hear recommendations :-)

  3. says

    Wow… I’ve lived in Dubai for almost 5 years and not tried any of these places (epic foodie failure on my part!)… love how you have dived right into it! :-)