AUH, SHJ, RAK or somewhere else..?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a Kentuckian mega meal deal bucket for the past year, you’re unlikely to have missed the hype hurricane that has accompanied Saudi fried chicken brand, Al Baik making landfall in the UAE.

So far the eateries have been limited to Dubai, with the inaugural branch opening in June last year at The Dubai Mall. A temporary set-up at the Expo 2020 site followed and then in April of this year, the barons of broasted chicken opened the doors of their latest UAE store, in the Mall of the Emirates.

And if you measure the success of any restaurant by the long snaking lines of human queue outside the restaurant — Al Baik has been nothing less than a cultural and culinary phenomenon. At each of the locations, queuing at peak times for a box of their covetous chicky nuggies can last for over an hour. Which makes the title of ‘fast food’ feel a little generous, but we’ve tried it (spicy nuggets, with the garlic dip), and can confirm it’s more than McWorth the wait.

Coming home to broast

But where to next? Because there is another UAE chapter on the way, full disclosure we just don’t know where yet. But that’s never stopped us from wildly speculating before.

The news was announced on the brand’s social channels — with an image of the logo on a nondescript wall, and a couple wearing local dress featured in the foreground. The caption reads “Our family is expanding to another Emirate. Can you guess where?⁣”


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A post shared by ALBAIK in UAE (@albaikinuae)

Challenge accepted Al Baik. Challenge accepted.

Both current permanent locations for Al Baik can be found in Dubai’s most prominent malls — so if you force us to put a pin in a map, we’d probably say Abu Dhabi. It’s the nation’s capital of course and if Al Baik follow the same high-end mall model, there are plenty of retail hubs to choose from. There’s the known unknowns, Yas Mall is opening a healthy gaggle of new restaurants, as is The Galleria Al Maryah Island and Abu Dhabi Mall. Then there are the unknown unknowns, for example the 80 or so f&b outlets headed for the under-construction ‘Reem Mall’ project — with an estimated completion date of some time this year.

Or how about Sharjah? It is the second most populous emirate (after Dubai) and its culinary scene is currently undergoing something of a renaissance. Sharjah too has its own mega mall and the footfall to feed it. We’d put this as a close second runner in terms of likely locations.

But what about you? Do you think RAK is leveling up after being caught napping in the snacking stakes? Is Fujairah long overdue for an introduction to the nug life? Or maybe Ajman? UAQ? Let us know in our Instagram polls.

Images: What’s On Archive/Instagram