SMOKY and BUTTERY are two of the most overused words when it comes to describing grilled meat. After trying the ones at Karama-born Dimyati, I'll be wary about slapping those words onto a lesser kabab again.
One order will land you four glistening baby chops, sweating out their juices as though they’ve just stepped off the treadmill. They seem somewhat lean and inadequate on the plate, but when you tear down the rich fleshy curves hemmed in by bits of black charcoal crust, you realize that two deliberately-savoured chops are enough to sate. Or three. The fourth is bordering on gluttony.
The bony chop handles hold surprisingly plump knobs of tender meat which look like they’ve been pounded and grilled only until the meat fibres break down into butter, not coalesce into rock. I’ve had a lamb chop that sent me into raptures only one other time this year, and that was a few weeks ago in Iran. Now I have them again, on a backstreet in Karama.
I will admit that it hurts to pay 40 dirhams per plate of four lamb chops in Karama – only because my wallet is not trained to pay anything more than 20 dirhams for an entire meal in that neighbourhood. But it hurts even more to think that Dimayti has been serving these lamb chops for the past three decades, if not more, and I never got wind of it. Fellow long-time residents who know their Karama joints swear by this place and many an online reviewer has spilt the juice on these chops, bite by succulent bite. Old timers have got some serious meal mileage from Dimyati, like Delna who’s been eating at this joint “[e]ver since I can remember! I’ve been in Dubai for 30 years now and our home has been ordering Arabic [food] for the longest time. It has been the most popular Arabic neighbourhood restaurant in Karama and the fact it still is speaks a lot about the quality of food!”
And me, I've evidently been sleeping under a rock.
Dimyati is a barebones cafeteria owned by a Palestinian and run by the Egyptians. With a facade painted in sterile shades of blue and interiors lined with multi-coloured tiles, the ambiance – or lack thereof – channels your attention to what matters most, the food. Loyalists know better than to stray indoors, like Kunal Chellani and his family who “never sat down in the restaurant and had a meal, we just drive by the place, do the traditional Dubai "honk honk" and carry it home.”
Can you imagine those lamb chops in the comfort of your PJs? Pajama time on steroids.
It might be 30 years of marinating experience, or maybe decades of meaty nubs leaving their flavour behind on the grill, but some combination of X-factors makes Dimyati kababs way better than your average cafeteria grill fix. Moist logs of lamb with the caramelized tan of a well-oiled grill instantly made me my granny's pet for the week after I brought home a tray of meaty conquests one afternoon. It is true that many places in the city – especially the Iranian ones – have set the bar very high on this kabab category, but Dimyati upholds that bar with grace.
The Arayes is another winner that shouldn’t be neglected on your order. This is no lean meat sandwich – two toasty and well-charred slices of khubz are glued together with a hefty 3mm cream-coloured layer of lamb, making this one of the best meat-for-crisp bread ratios that you might find in the city.
What I will debate – at the risk of having every long-time Dimyati loyalist hunt me down for retribution – is the quality of the hummus. I’ve spoken to ardent Dimyati fans who’ve lapped up Dimyati’s hummus from the times of its first location on the main road near Al Jadeed Bakery (thanks Kunal!) – and each of them have independently nominated the cafeteria’s hummus for an Oscar Award.
I tried desperately to love the hummus. I went in with an open mind and the respect that a 30-year restaurant with a loyal patronage deserves, but I'd be lying if I said I had the hots for this hummus. It’s been mediocre at best, grainy and dry on its weaker days, and marginally improved by the refreshing tatbeela sauce (with green peppers, chillies and lemon juice) that my Dimyati advisory board recommended I specially request for. The Arabic stalwarts of Deira crank out luscious hummus that can spank the chickpeas off of Dimyati's version, but it's not the end of the world. It would be only if Dimyati stopped serving those lamb chops.
Seriously, stick with the meat and you have a better chance of being impressed. The veggie dishes are wholesome without aspiring to be memorable.
The crisp green-bellied falafels served with a watered-down tahina sauce, the chunky fattoush and the hummus with warm fava bean dip (Qudsiya) are all perfectly acceptable – just nothing that makes Dimyati a destination. The lamb chops alone justify a drive to Karama. They are worth taking the risk of inciting a frantic lamb chop rush and then having people throw stink bombs in your blog's comment section in the unlikely event that those nibbly knobs of pulpy charred lamb meat didn’t live up to the hype.
Are you listening to me? Dimyati’s lamb chops. You simply have to try to them.
Al Dimyati & Iskandaron Restaurant
Phone: 04-3964848 || 043966339
Take the right after Al Reef Bakery on Za'abeel Road, then another right at the Day to Day Trading. The restaurant will be on your left, right after an ambitiously named restaurant called Food Paradise. Or refer to my Google Maps hotpot of restaurant hideouts.