About me

Why food? Why blog? Why me?

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything, remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants.

After my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addiction. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little town called Bentonville (Arkansas!).

After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but a genuine appreciation and passion for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

Will I write if you feed me free food?

Shockingly, no.

I love free food, don’t get me wrong. I’ll stop short of serenading you in public for free food…and in some cases [which will typically involve one or all of the following: melted cheese, smokey kababs, and crusty fresh bread], I’ll even go that far.

BUT, where I draw the line is sponsored reviews of restaurants, events, products, or anything similar that is associated with a commercial group. If you’d like to invite me for a restaurant opening or culinary event, or gift me a free stand mixer [someone do it already!], please know that I will most likely not blog about it…unless it’s one of those rare cases where my loyalties to unbiased reviews get totally swayed by some profound life-changing food experience that I feel compelled to share with my readers. But like I said, those cases are rare. Super rare.

Have a burning private foodie question that you’re dying to ask me?

Ping me on Instagram @fryingpanadventures which is my present gig with my sister, food tours in Old Dubai. My only plea: no spam…no sponsored events requiring coverage…no anything-you-wouldn’t-want-in-your-own-DMs. Just lay your foodie e-love on me…that, and any questions, thoughts, or anything else you think would tickle my appetite.

94 thoughts on “About me

  1. Chris Borunda says:

    Hi! Great Blog!

    I am traveling to Dubai next week from NYC & was wondering if you could recommend any Iranian grocery stores, or spice shops. Thanks in advance

  2. Firouzeh Mirrazavi says:

    Hope that you have enjoyed your trip to Iran. I am the deputy editor of Iran Review.Org website based in Iran – Tehran. I wanted to reprint your delicious post about Iranian food, but I could not find any name. Is it just enough to name the source?
    Warm Regards
    Firouzeh Mirrazavi

  3. Mike says:

    I’m originally from philly,graduated from temple u,and have been working in a famous restaurant in miami beach for over 30 years.Food is my passion as well. I will only have a 10 hour daytime stopover (from 6am to 6pm) in doha and want to know what local dishes and restaurants you recommend.I have been to lebanon,syria,turkey,indianpakistan,so i am interested in tasting food unique to the gulf.Someone suggested kabsa with hammour as the most unique dish to the gulf or to qatar in particular.Any suggestions?I was thinking of eating in the souk waqil for lunch if i can find air conditioning or ceiling fan for a mid august temperature.Your help is greatly appreciated.If i could bring a cheesteak for you i would,to bring back memories of philly!LOL

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      Hi there Mike! Welcome to Dubai :) I’d say go to Al Fanar Restaurant in Festival City for a comprehensive taste of Emirati cuisine. The menu is pretty descriptive so it doubles up as a good learning experience too. Would suggest staying away from hammour – it’s been severely over-fished and is on the red list for http://www.choosewisely.ae. Happy exploring!

    2. InaFryingPan says:

      and crazy, crazy…but I hear someone has started selling philly cheesesteaks in Dubai now!

  4. Yogesh says:

    love this blog too… ive lived in dubai all my life.. and im definitely a foodie… love the attention and the places you go to.. must recommend to everyone.. thanks for updates… work in deira.. so this definitely helps… out to try pak liyari today..

  5. Kebab Bistro says:

    Dear Ms. / Mr. XX
    (as we don’t know your name and would not like to address you as Ms/ Mr. “In a Frying Pan”)
    Thank you for publishing the sad story about Safa Park and for passing by Kebab Bistro. We look forward to welcome you once again to our little place to try the Kebabs, Biryani and Chaats too, and of course with no obligations to write about them.

  6. Khurram says:

    Hi Arva,

    Nice website and excellent blogging! Keep up the good work. I live in Business Bay and have been trying to find a home thali delivery service in our area but sadly i think we live in the worst part of town for that! Unfortunately there are restaurants that provide daily thali lunch combos but these are located far away in JLT or in Karama, Bur Dubai etc and will only deliver to this area if the order is large. Therefore i would be grateful if you could let me know of anyone who could provide thali service for Business Bay. I have tried the food from Currybox and Saravana Bhavan but i would prefer something more homemade and of higher quality than what these places offer. Looking forward to your reply.

  7. Lisa Downs says:


    I wanted to get in touch as I’m looking to find some people to interview for video content we’re producing for a week long event in China that will showcase the best of Dubai, and in particular the best of Dubai food.

    We are looking to interview someone Monday afternoon and was wondering perhaps you might be available?

    If this is something you are interested in, I can send you more detail

    Thank you, I look forward to hearing from you. My email is lisa@thebigfootproject.com


  8. Andrea says:


    Have you heard of the Cafeteria called Oyoun Al Reem aka Chillis Za3beel. It’s been around since Sheikh Rashid’s time. Surrounded by all the villas and it’s proper old school!! Traditional Emirati take on the andaa parotta by adding dakoos and chips Oman or samoon bread with oman chips, cheese and dakoos and last but not least samoon bread with a samosa, oman chips, etc. Definitely worth a visit! Always busy with police, CID, etc having their daily breakfast with chai karak.


  9. Behrouz says:

    hi sir
    Is there any baked falafel shop in dubai?
    thanks much


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