Cycle your way around Dubai’s favourite foods with Tastecapade
The word “tour” is one that strikes fear into the hearts of many: conjuring visions of minibus travel, lengthy monologues and organised “fun”. Tastecapade involves none of these things. Instead you’ll be cruising along Beach Road on a bike, stopping along the way to sample local food favourites both old and new. And as you freewheel along the side streets behind Kite Beach, the call to prayer in the air, you’ll remember there’s a very different side to Dubai’s dining scene beyond brunch.
Check out the video below:
Sisters Mary and May Freij, who were born and raised in the UAE, have focused on celebrating foods that will resonate with anybody who grew up in Dubai. It takes in everything from classic Emirati childhood snacks, to traditional Arabic dishes, to freshly caught sherry that harks back to Dubai’s days as a small fishing village. There are nods to modern Emirati culture too – including a pit stop for a beachside burger at Salt.
Our first stop was the Bikey stand (01) in front of the entrance to Kite Beach to pick up our wheels for the afternoon.
From there it was a short spin to juice bar Blends (02), chosen because it offers an insight into Dubai’s late-night culture (Blends stays open until 3am to cater to queues of drivers on Beach Road) as well as an introduction to an important regional ingredient. Our Arabian Delight shakes were a creamy blend of yoghurt, almonds, and – what else? – dates.
Next we pedalled our way sea-wards (our cycle perfectly timed to coincide with the sunset) and followed our noses towards the scent of burgers drifting from the beach. Salt (03), which started out as a pop-up food truck posting clues to its location on Instagram, became such a sensation in burger-obsessed Dubai that the airstream trailer now has a permanent spot on Kite Beach, complete with picnic tables. Tucking into jalapeno sliders alfresco, watching everyone from surf chicks to toddlers to women in teetering heels wander past, was a great snapshot of Jumeirah life.
From there we cycled on to the port, where Mary pointed out a fish market we had no idea was there, and explained a little about Dubai’s journey from trading port to major global city as we gazed at the Burj Khalifa beyond the traditional fishing boats bobbing in the harbour. After fresh fish eaten beside the water at Sea View (04), the tour journeyed on to Reem Al Bawadi (05) for falafel and manaeesh, then Turath Al-Mandi (06) for traditional mandi – slow cooked meat served with rice and a mixture of spices – eaten cross-legged on the floor.
From a generations-old dish to something a little more modern, the final pit-stop on our whistle-stop tour was Umm Suqeim’s Local Bites Café (07) for what we learned is the UAE’s unofficial national dish: the Chips Oman sandwich. Brits will be familiar with the crisp sandwich, but this is a more elaborate affair that takes the naughtiest of all naughty treats to a whole new level. A paratha stuffed with gooey cheese sauce, crushed spicy Chips Oman crisps and hot sauce, we just about managed to make room one of these, and we were mighty glad we did. Comfort food at its finest.
With Tastecapade, the Freij sisters (who incidentally are great company) have managed to create an experience that offers a little taste of the many different sides of the multi-faceted, multi-cultural city that we call home. And all without a mini-bus in sight.
Entrance to Kite Beach, daily 3pm to 7pm, Dhs385. Taxi: Umm Suqeim Clinic, Jumeirah Beach Road. tastecapade.com