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Memories Are Made of This...

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December 7, 2014 / Lebanese / By

On a recent Friday night, The Tall Guy (TTG) and I entertained a couple of friends passing through Dubai on their way back to Australia for the next 5 months. Before heading to the airport to check in, we dropped into one of Dubai’s lovely hotels - the Park Hyatt on Dubai’s Creek. It’s a particular favorite haunt of ours since it opened around 8 years ago and has 3 wonderful restaurants. On this occasion, we chose to sit outdoors, next to the Dubai Creek and have just a light bite and one drink apiece. To cut straight to it, the bill for 4 small entree-sized plates, 2 glasses of wine, a pint of beer and 2 bottles of water was in the ballpark of 550AED - that’s $US150 / €120. And that’s the way Dubai is, for those of you who’ve sampled its delights; it can be a lot more expensive than that too. But on the way home, TTG, who has been minding the nest in Italy for the past 6 months, was looking a bit shell-shocked. “That’s about 300% more than what it would have cost in our part of Italy and double what it would have been in Rome!” he spluttered. Jet-lag and culture-shock: been on the farm too long! Welcome back, TTG. 

But he wouldn’t let go. “Back when we first arrived here….”, “…a whole night out for $50.00 for the two of us, and we’d still have change..” and so on. Finally, I cracked and gave in to his mad scheme to revisit all our old haunts in deepest Sharjah - the Emirate bordering Dubai to the north, where we began our Middle East adventures almost 16 years ago. His internal compass would have us there in the blink of an eye, he swore. Several thousand blinks, actually, but to give him credit, he got us there with no slip-ups, no wrong turns and no serious road surprises. I don’t know how he does it, because he’s useless in Europe. 

Sharjah’s Jamal Abdul Nasser Street used to be home to a wide range of cheap, but good eating options back in the day. It’s about a 20 minute walk from the area opposite Sharjah’s Al Majaz Park to the end of the road and the same back again.

Some businesses are still there; sadly others, like the wonderfully named “Decent Restaurant” and “Relish”, an amazingly cheap and amazingly good South Indian vegetarian restaurant are gone, but two great Lebanese felafel shops are still trading strongly, as is the “Radio Restaurant.” “Sealord”, which, not surprisingly, is a fish restaurant, is looking decidedly tired.

A felafel sandwich, made right in front of you, is a thing of joy. Eat it on the premises, take it away - the choice is yours, but don’t let it wait too long. Best eaten straight away, or within 5 - 10 minutes, it can be eaten much later, even after it has been in the refrigerator. I really don’t recommend trying to reheat it. Cold is OK, but not as good as right after the felafel itself has been lifted from the oil, placed in the pita bread, with a wonderful yogurt dressing, tomato, mint and lettuce.

Falafil Fareyha Cafetaria (Since 1983!) and its chief competitor Al Comodor Falafil, just meters along the same side of Al Nasser Street are both great eating experiences: you’ll be happy with either.

This whole odyssey started with TTG’s shock horror at the bill at the Creek Hyatt. So, what was the bill for the two felafel sandwiches pictured above - which also come with a complementary dish of pickled vegetables, by the way? 6 AED. For the two, plus pickles. 6 AED is $US1.65, or €1.32. TTG was looking alarmingly smug. He’s threatening a return visit to another of our old Sharjah haunts, the Uttam Vegetarian Restaurant, near the site of the old Sharjah Cinema, in the heart of downtown Sharjah. But that’ll be another story…or the day! 

To get from Dubai to Sharjah, take a taxi. The taxis are metered, clean and safe. From Dubai’s Deira district, the fare will be around 80-90 AED ($US22-25.00). From the Dubai Mall area the fare will be over 100 AED ($US30-40.00) and from further afield, like the Dubai Marina area, more still - expect to pay $US60 or more.

There are  public buses that run to from Dubai to Sharjah: they are new, clean, air-conditioned and safe and certainly a lot cheaper than taxis. You can read about the costs, frequency and stop points in both cities here.

Sharjah’s Jamal Abdul Nasser Street runs roughly parallel with Sharjah’s Al Wahda Street between Al Khan Road and the King Faisal Road Roundabout. All the restaurants mentioned here are located along this strip, with the two Lebanese felafel shops at the King Faisal end, opposite where Al Majaz Park borders the road. Check the geography out first in either Google Maps or Apple Maps. 

Falafil Fareyha Cafetaria

Country: United Arab Emirates

Province/State: Ash Shariqah

City: Sharjah

Address: Jamal Abdul Nasser Street

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: Opposite Al Majaz Park

Phone: +971 6 5537737


Price Guide:$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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