Authentic Sri Lankan curries, butter chicken dumplings, and crazy buns…

One of the highlights of the Dubai Food Festival is the Hidden Gems competition, where some of the city’s best-kept foodie secrets are revealed.

This year’s line-up is a particularly diverse bunch, with everything from Emirati teahouses to Sri Lankan curry joints on the list. We couldn’t wait to try them all – so we checked out three hidden gems in one night. All in the name of food journalism, of course.

Don’t forget, throughout Dubai Food Festival, each hidden gem restaurant is offering a one-day-only special deal where you can enjoy a two-course meal for just Dhs25 per person.

The restaurants listed below just so happen to be offering their special deals over the next three days – so that’s your next three dinners sorted…


This cosy little hole-in-the-wall cafe on Jumeirah Road specialises in one thing – buns. But not just any plain old buns. These buns are filled with ingredients from all over the globe, like Chips Oman and cream cheese, Italian tomato sauce, chicken shawarma, and biryani. There are dessert buns, too – make sure to ask for the oh-so-Instagrammable off-the-menu bun, ‘Once Upon A Time’, flavoured with coffee and white chocolate and covered in edible glitter. That Place Cafe is the brainchild of Arpita Khatri, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in London. We reckon you’ll love her “bunderful” concept.

That Place Cafe, Jumeirah Road, Sun to Thurs 9am to 11.30pm, Fri and Sat 10am to 1am. Special deal: February 26. Tel: (04) 320 0310. More info on website.

Want to see more? Click to play our video of That Place Cafe:

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If it’s authentic Sri Lankan food you seek, look no further than Ayubowan. One of the few Sri Lankan restaurants in Dubai, this little eatery tucked away at the edge of JLT has an incredibly extensive menu, featuring favourites from the island nation like coconut roti, fish curry and hopper baskets. Also be sure to try a dish called “kotthu”, a tasty pile of shredded paratha, meat, and egg mixed through with a curry sauce. Be warned though – spice levels are not for the faint-hearted.

Ayubowan, Lake Point Tower, Cluster N, JLT, Sun to Thurs 8am to 11pm, Fri and Sat 10am to 11pm. Special deal: February 27. Tel: (562) 535 455. More info on website.


What do you get when you combine Chinese dishes with Indian flavours? Wok N Roll, that’s what. This Asian fusion joint in Barsha might be the only restaurant we’ve ever encountered with butter chicken dumplings and chicken tikka bao on the menu, but believe it or not, it really works. Try the Maggi Spring Rolls; perfectly crisp, golden envelopes stuffed with two-minute noodles – while they might sound like something a cash-strapped student dreamed up, they’re surprisingly delicious.

Wok N Roll, Barsha Business Square Building, Sun to Weds 11am to 11pm, Thurs to Sat 11am to midnight. Special deal: February 28. Tel: (04) 395 0881. More info on website.

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