You know that feeling when your evening date dumps you? And then you have to make a bee-line for that back-up option who’s been twiddling his thumbs, waiting like a lonely pathetic soul for your phone call…knowing he’s second-fiddle? And then that second-fiddle actually turns out to not be such dismal company after all?
I sort of had a similar situation last week. Though my only dates (in that same lonely pathetic soul sort of way) are with restaurants. Luckily in this case, I wasn’t all alone in my misery – Fatma, a fellow blogger who’d once infected me with a ridiculous strawberry and rhubarb pie craving, had agreed to check out this hidden gem with me. Our date was Sindudurg Restaurant, a resto in Oud Mehta that dishes up seafood traditional to a town called Malvan in coastal southern Maharashtra. I’d psyched myself up for this place, despite never having tasted Malvani cuisine before or even knowing what it was, I had that feeling in my bones that this could be amazing.
Fatma and I, now in the woods behind Lamcy Plaza, start walking around the Splendid Hotel building in search of the restaurant. My heart beat steps up a notch…uhhh, why don’t I see a sign for it? Where is it? I scurry inside the building to ask the watchmen, and they respond with the two words no restaurant-dating girl ever wants to hear: It’s shut. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo….
I’d been dumped.
Whatdya know, Sad Sniffling Frowny from my previous Bakefest post is back.
It was comforting to have Fatma with me as we ranted on about why some of the best little joints in Dubai shut down, while the ones with hopelessly sub par food are still thriving. Bluefields was one of those gems that shut down on me last year...I still haven’t moved on.
At that desperate moment, my back-up option in the neighbourhood came to the rescue – Emly & Chilli’s, just steps away from us. This is why I love dating restaurants, you never run out of back-ups. Plus the second-fiddle resto never knows that it’s being used, so you’re really never the hot but heartless prom queen either.
Emly – not Emily which I’d been reading it as forever, until I stepped foot into the tiny Pakistani joint and wondered why in the world would they name their restaurant after an Emily?? - means Tamarind, and this Tamarind Chilli namesake features Pakistani style kababs and parathas and rolls and buns and all those kinds of carby meaty snacky foods that are right up my alley.
This was my first time meeting Fatma in person, but the fact that she zoned in straight for the fried paratha roll over the healthier, oil-free roti made us friends instantly. There could be no worthier companion other than a crispy paratha for that tender yogurt-drizzled beef seekh kabab roll she’d ordered…
That paratha with all its crispy fried craters makes ALL the difference – Fatma and I just broke out into big stuffed-mouth smiles at the naughty greasiness of it all.
We also sampled the healthier roti-wrapped chicken roll…just had to compare...and as expected, nothing spectacular. Don’t make this mistake. If you opt for the dry healthy roti over a thin juicy paratha, just remember that you will have a lonely crying kabab feeling wasted inside.
Yep, that paratha was the right call. Fatma just got what it meant to walk into a hidden gem, not tippy toeing around the more pious menu selections, and going straight for the kill. We connected over our mutual love for tiny unassuming eateries that give off the aromas of true, immigrant, ethnic Dubai…and as we shared our mutual family memories of the paneer pakodas and chicken lollipops at Kwality in Bur Dubai, or of our fathers being naturally brilliant chefs who to this day create magic when left in the kitchen, we’d stop every now and then to dissect what we’d ordered, what the other thought of it, what ingredients had gone in…
...like the kabab in the Shami Bun, which we both agreed felt like it had been processed through an industrial meat mincing tube. I tend to have high expectations of anything that has “Bun” in its name [maybe because of my floofy bun experience at Dubai Mall?], and this just fell flat on its belly. Moral of the story: Not all buns are floofy, and not all will encase things that make you go mmmmmm.
Here was my favourite plate of the day…the bihari boneless chicken kabab. The chickens that made this creation possible on my plate must have been borne of butter. And swum around in a dense yogurt and coriander pool every Sunday of the week.
We left the place still chattering, exchanging tips on other hidden eats in the city, already planning for our next dinner out, lamenting over the disappearance of Fatma's favorite manakish on saj maker at the Global Village. [Frowny face has clammed himself shut in a dark melancholic cave and has refused to emerge for an encore.]
As for Emly and Chilli, this place isn’t the love of my life, but they do have some solid greasy, meaty comfort foods that I’d run back to when lonely at night.
Special credits to a very special uncle who always unearths the best hidden eats and tosses them my way every now and then, like he did with Al Ammor here. Both Sindudurg and Emly & Chilli were his finds – Thank You Mamu :D
Emly & Chilli
Beside American Hospital, Oud Metha, Bur Dubai, Dubai.
Phone: +971 (4) 334-4554 (delivery)