Okay, so not everyone travels to the UAE (the United Arab Emirates), but if you’re planning a trip overseas soon I’d definitely recommend a trip to Dubai. Dubai is a busy cosmopolitan city with people from all walks of life, and it’s chaotic and busy and totally like Sydney, but with an Arabic twist that excites you at every turn. There’s malls, malls and more malls, and then there’s the tourist areas and you also have old Dubai and the traditional souks (markets) to explore as well.
Dubai is a city where the traditional exotic Arab charm meets the modern technologically advanced world head on. So you can find the old parts of town where traditional life still abounds, and the sellers at the souks all want you to buy their watch, their gold or their spices. But you can also find the world’s only 7 star hotel – the Burj Al Arab.
The Burj Al Arab is the sail shaped building you must have seen on TV. Between the Burj Al Arab and the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building) every TV show you’ve ever seen to mention Dubai must have shown you a glimpse of one or the other of these buildings. And they are both quite spectacular. But instead of just taking a look at the outside, why not try breakfast at the Burj Al Arab’s Sahn Eddar Restaurant? In fact, I would highly recommend that you do!
The Sahn Eddar is located just above the lobby to the Burj Al Arab, and it sits at the base of the magnificent building, atop an elevator with aquariums on both sides. The Sahn Eddar sits at the base of the hotel and as you look up your eye follows layers of colours spanning the rainbow that take you up, up and up to the top of this tall and exquisitely furnished building. There’s gold inlaid on the floor and along the walls, and the colours of the rainbow are again reflected all over the building but most noticeably in the fountain that sits at the top of the elevator.
When you’re shown to your table at the Sahn Eddar you have the beautiful building behind you and the blue, blue waters of the Gulf before you. The beach stretches out to either side and the Jumeriah Beach Hotel, it’s pyramid shape so obvious against the coastline, is recognisable a few kilometers away. The tourists walk the beach in their bikini’s and laze on the beach chairs sipping drinks while the real people of Dubai are busy ushering you into the building, taking expensive cars to valet park and driving one of the million taxi’s that have dropped us here at our breakfast experience. But most obvious here is the lack of Emirati people themselves, as they prefer other parts of their magnificent city to reside in and work in.
Breakfast at the Sahn Eddar is no small feat, in fact it’s more like a small feast – one that my husband and I took a luxurious 3 hours to enjoy. Even though its breakfast you are treated to a full 3 course meal with unlimited coffee, tea and juice. You can choose between a continental breakfast (eggs and bacon – though it’s turkey or beef bacon in the UAE), a traditional breakfast (cereals and toast) or an Arabic breakfast, so of course I chose the Arabic breakfast (knowing how much I love Arabic food and the fact I was in an Arabic city – wouldn’t they of all places make the best Arabic meal?).
Our entree was toast and spreads. Nothing unusual there except for the honey. Somehow honey in the UAE tastes different to the honey from Australia – somehow it’s more pure and less sweet than I know. Tea and coffee are served along with Danish pastries made fresh in the Burj Al Arab kitchens. The cherry Danish is to die for!
Then comes a taste each of bircher muesli and yoghurt with strawberry coulis. By this stage I’m regretting the two slices of toast I had because the main meal of ful meddames and eggs is about to arrive. Ful meddames are the Arabic version of baked beans and they taste a million times better than any baked beans you’ve ever eaten. Ful meddames is made using fava beans and it’s mixed with spices and oil to make a beautiful rich and creamy bean mix that will fill you up all day. We were served the best ful meddames I’ve ever eaten, and they were served with eggs, grilled haloumi, labneh balls and sambousek (meat or cheese filled savoury pasties) and spinach fateyah (savoury pastries filled with spinach and sumac, in the shape of triangles).
Pickled vegetables and fresh fruit accompanied the main breakfast items and more orange juice and tea were served at our request. We were grinning from ear to ear by this stage and lapping up the amazing food and the beautiful views. We were content to stay at the Burj Al Arab and in Dubai forever!
And just when we thought we’d eaten too much, along comes dessert (or should that be breakfast dessert?). Kunafa with cheese, a dessert of thin straw-like pastry with gooey cheese in the middle, covered in a sweet sugar syrup. I just couldn’t do it, and had to look on at the kunafa with regret because I could not move by this stage. My husband relished his kunafa with every bite and forced down the best latte he’s ever had as well. In the end, even he had to admit defeat as there had just been too much food, too many amazing tastes and too many eyes bigger than our stomachs.
We sat there looking at the beautiful views and watching the people coming and going through the Hotel. We watched as the Hotel stores opened for a day of trading and as people ventured from the Hotel to the beach for a lazy day in the sand. Mind you, this was 11:30am already and life was just beginning to get going here at the Burj Al Arab – time just goes that much slower when you’re surrounded by luxury and enjoying a 3 course breakfast.
All in all we had an amazing time and were quite sad to leave the Burj Al Arab behind us. We loved every minute of our experience there, even the fancy bathrooms and amazing customer service (I think we had the restaurant to ourselves for the last hour of our meal). It’s not a cheap meal by any means; it was actually the most expensive meal we’ve ever had – but who doesn’t experience things they don’t normally do when they go on holidays in another country? Live a little!
Even if you don’t want to have breakfast at the Burj Al Arab, it is totally worth a look inside the Hotel. It appears you need a booking at their restaurant to get into the Hotel if you’re not a guest, so do make sure you come and at least have a coffee at the beautiful Burj Al Arab – it’s an experience you won’t forget!
And if you want to know where else to eat in the UAE, check out my top picks.
I hope to see you in the UAE in future!