My parents taught me and my other food loving siblings a few guidelines on how to find the best eating places in town. One of them is to follow the crowds. If any restaurant has a line, a consistent line of people at the door every single day, then there’s sure to find good food in there.
And one of the favorite crowds my father, in particular, loves to follow is of the hardworking taxi driver. Yes, the humble non-foodie taxi driver, who certainly does give his time of day to the best restaurants in town, latest food trends, chefs, recipes and more. All he cares about is to get a dirt cheap and delicious meal to fill his tummy, which should get him through the rest of his day. Our chasing down the hungry taxi driver haunts have been very successful; meaning wherever taxi drivers lined up, the food was surely tasty and wallet friendly.
The other night, while on my continuous quest to find good, reasonably priced restaurants in our area, I stumbled upon TimeOut Dubai’s feature on “Where Taxi Drivers dine” and pleasantly discovered that a taxi driver food haunt was sitting right outside our doorstep. Sarhad Darbar, as shared in the feature, is said to be very popular amongst Pakistani drivers. No wonder that there are rows of taxis, delivery vans and mini-buses parked in the empty sand lot in front of the restaurant. Why didn’t I even remember the taxi driver crowd rule? *facepalm* This evening, The Husband and I decided to try it out for ourselves and prove if the taxi driver crowd rule still applies here in Dubai.
So I entered Sarhad Darbar ahead, since The Husband wanted to buy some bananas next door. As I pushed the glass door, a Filipino looking guy followed me with his eyes as I took a seat into the booth behind them, perhaps sensing that I was a fellow Filipino dining at a Pakistani restaurant. But his stare was unusual. First, I thought I made a mistake of taking a seat in the bachelor section of Sarhad Darbar, but I was so sure I was seated in the family section. Second, I thought it was way cool that another Filipino was enjoying a meal at Sarhad Darbar. But when I heard the unfamiliar chatter from their booth, the guy and his companions were definitely not Filipino at all. Shudder! I hate uncomfortable stares!
Good thing The Husband finally arrived in time to order. The waiter was surprisingly knowledgeable when I asked about the bestsellers, which is not usual for taxi driver food haunts. (When I ask “What are the best sellers?” or “What would you recommend?”, I always get a standard “Everything is delicious” answer.) He carefully explained some of the dishes and even asked if we preferred spicy or non-spicy before giving his recommendations. How thoughtful! I am loving the place already, even if I did not get a taste of the food just yet.
As the waiter set the food on the table, I pulled out my camera and started clicking away on the plates. “You take photos of food?”, the waiter asked as he curiously peered into my camera’s LCD screen. Now, he made me uncomfortable as he went in too close. So I replied “Yes.” and continued around my food blogger duty to take food photos. Good thing he scooted away to leave me and The Husband to enjoy our meal in peace. Or so I thought.
Maybe he thought I was from the media because I actually bothered to take photos of our meal. Hence, he showered us with tender loving attention throughout our meal: asking us if we enjoyed the food, asking us if we wanted anything else, asking us if we wanted more drinks and so on. His service was cute in a creepy way, which is still good service, so we gave him a tip for the extra attention.
So now, after being distracted by a creepy fellow dinner and the also creepy but sweet waiter, I am finally going to talk about the food. Though I did not swoon with any dish unlike that dessert I had last week, the food was well-seasoned, delicious, in fact. I particularly enjoyed the butter mutton (If you love butter chicken and love mutton too, this is your best bet). Sarhad Darbar’s butter mutton was so soft that it melted in my mouth. What I most appreciated about it was that the spices did not over power the tomatoes in the gravy, which were not cooked down into oblivion. I could actually feel the cooked tomato skins slide on my tongue.
I also enjoyed Sarhad Dardar’s kheer as well. The Husband doubts that the restaurant outsourced the kheer because it came in covered plastic take-away bowls, but I didn’t care. It was good kheer, each spoonful meant to be savored, thick and smooth with an almost hummus like mouth feel, but mildly sweet, spicy (from the cardamom perhaps?), creamy and a bit of bite from the almond slivers and pistachio bits.
In terms of price, man, I was more than happy with what we saw on our bill. The Husband paid for our filling, delicious meal, dessert and drinks for only:
That’s 28 AED per person! Booyah! It wouldn’t be a taxi driver food haunt if the prices were dirt cheap, right?
And so, does the taxi driver crowd rule apply in Dubai? Yummy food? Check! Filling meal? Check! Dirt cheap prices? Check! Could I now conclude that the taxi driver crowd rule is a universal good eats finder rule? Well, maybe I just need to check out more taxi driver food haunts in other countries to cast this rule in stone as a foodie truth.
But for now, I just want to try the famous Sarhad Darbar breakfast, which is served from 5AM to 11AM. See that Halwa Puri for only 8AED? That is so on my cheap eating list!
Anyone care to join me for breakfast soon?
Delirious about delicious,