By virtue of coincidence and by my obsessive compulsiveness towards daylight, my friends and I experienced a seamless Bu Qtair evening. It’s 3:58 pm on a sunny Friday afternoon on the shores of Dubai. My eyes closed, I lie on my towel with my toes in the sand and enjoy the sounds of the waves crashing onto the shore. Sublime, nothing could be more relaxing. The clock strikes 4:00 pm and my beach bum persona washes away with the earlier wave as the general in me kicks in.
“Alright everyone up… to Bu Qtair we go!”
With two hours left till sundown, I hastily herd my friends over to their cars in order to capture our Bu Qtair experience in daylight.
Upon our arrival at 4:10 pm, the fishermen are weaving their nets, the cats are taking a snooze but no one is in site.
Inquiring with someone in the cabin, we are informed to return at 6 pm when the first order is made at 6:30 pm and no exceptions are made… not even if you say please… not even if you explain that you want to take photos… not even…. Anything. After a leisurely stroll around Jumeirah, we return at sunset and already notice a queue starting in the cabin. As customer number 5, our male friend (hero) selflessly volunteers himself to stand in the ordering queue as we graciously and happily accept while we wait outside.
Fatigued from the beach and the walk around Jumeirah, my friend and I pop a squat on plastics stools.
“Serene… I need to put my camera down somewhere, lets just grab that table over there…”
As we move our stools over and make ourselves comfortable on the table, we notice in that short laps of time, the queue extending out the cabin and onto the road, with not a free stool or table in sight. Phew… good timing!
After enjoying the outdoor breeze and watching people from all walks of life join in, Arab, French, Pilipino, English and more our fish and shrimp arrive along with our side orders of rice, salad, sauce and bread.
Breaking into the dark crusted fish which reveals the ever so white and juicy meat is beautiful. As juicy as possible and yet not as fishy as anticipated each bite, though on plastic chairs and tables, is as luxurious as can be.
I adore fried everything, fried squash flowers to fried potatoes and fried dumplings, but I believe, one ingredient that should never touch the fryer is shrimp. Their meat is too delicate for harsh oils. And so, my attention is subsequently set on the fish. The bread is extra fresh and warm. My bite, enclosing the juicy fish with the warm bread and drizzling the spicy tomato sauce on top… and repeat. Though I prefer a fresh tomato sauce to the cooked version…this version will do just fine. By the end of the evening my friends and I can easily count around 250 people, which is incredible. Bu Qtair symbolizes something I love, if you offer quality food consistently, everyone will come.
Is it the best combination of flavors I have tasted? I’m not sure, I’ve had delicious fish at an Abu Dhabi fish market that I dream of, but I know that Bu Qtair delivers on one of the best food experiences in Dubai.
Eating along side the beach, in open air, a stone throw away from the fishermen themselves, on a sand pit mind you, makes it surreally on some level and an experience I wouldn’t mind frequenting when ever possible. Oh and they’re happy to wrap up anything you haven’t finished, so don’t be shy and order as you please.
Plan of action
- Arrive at 6 pm sharp.
- Ordering starts at 6:30 pm although you should start queuing at 6:00 pm.
- Have one person order and the others wait outside wile securing a spot to eat.
- Order your choice of fish and shrimp.
- Pop a squat on some stools even before the tables are set up.
- Once the tables are out, grab your stool and claim a table.
- When you’re seated and have ordered your fish, a waiter will approach your table to make the order of sides being salad, bread and rice.
Have fun, get your hands dirty and enjoy the fresh air and sunset.
Cuisine: Indian Seafood
Price per couple: Approx AED 100