Al Reef Lebanese Bakery

by Jannat & Pawan Manghnani on May 30th, 2016

About

Al Reef Lebanese Bakery is a legendary outlet open 24/7 since 1986 with 4 branches in Dubai that has got the basics right: The Food. Local, Expat or Tourist, Everyone needs to try this place which is without any doubts, a benchmark for Lebanese food in UAE.  It is also an extremely popular hangout among the party elites of the city who line up here once all the nightclubs shut at 3:00am​​

Review

Growing up as an expat in Dubai, Middle Eastern/Arabic cuisine has been part of our daily lives so much so that we have taken it for granted. While there have been many eateries focusing on the same cuisine, none of them have gotten it right. Yes, They have had varying degrees of success/failure with various elements such as decor, marketing, customer service etc. but not so much with the actual food itself.

Ironically, Al Reef Lebanese Bakery does quite the opposite. While their food is to die for, their marketing is zero, decor and ambiance is blah, and customer service is non-existent, even rude at many instances. Still, we return again and again for the heavenly food that they serve! Having tried at least 100 of their dishes combining weird combinations over the years, below are some that have been my regular orders.
Cheese Manakish:
Plain ol' cheese roti. A classic that needs no introduction. ​Manakish, also manaqish, manaeesh or manakeesh or in singular form man'ousheh is a popular Levantine food consisting of dough topped with thyme, cheese, or ground meat. Similar to a pizza, it can be sliced or folded, and it can either be served for breakfast or lunch. The word manaqish is the plural of the Arabic word manqūshah, meaning that after the dough has been rolled flat, it is pressed by the fingertips to create little dips for the topping to lie in.
​Cheese Spring Rolls:
Super soft cheesy snack. You could ask them to be filled with meat or spinach as well. Goes well with hummous too.
​​Cheese Meat Labneh Manakish Roti:
All that jazz with a dash of hot sauce. You might get a weird look from the person who takes your order but honestly, its so worth it. While this combination might sound appalling/weird to some, it is super delish, took me far worse variations to get here.

My favorite ingredient being Labneh which is basically yogurt that has been strained to remove its whey, resulting in a thicker consistency than unstrained yogurt, while preserving yogurt's distinctive, sour taste. 
​​​Cheese Egg Manakeesh Roti:
I like eggs. I like cheese. I mixed them up. Its awesome, Jeez.
Cheese Hot Dog Manakeesh:
The possibilities are endless with manakeesh. Choose your favorite toppings and just roll with it. Make sure to add cheese or labneh or both to all those rotis though otherwise the bread will feel doughy and dry.
Hummous Khabhous:
Hummous ​is a Levantine and Egyptian food dip made from cooked, mashed chickpeas or other beans, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Today, it is popular throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and in Middle Eastern cuisine around the world.

​The Hummous served here is hands down the best Dubai has to offer, I am yet to find a better one. Though a few of them have come dangerously close. Al Reef's Hummous is like Harry Potter: Magical. Served with freshly baked Khabous (Arabic Bread) one can enjoy it even as a dip.

Spicy Chicken Shawarma:
​The Shawarma is a Levantine Arab meat preparation, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants), and may be grilled for as long as a day. Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Shawarma can be served on a plate (generally with accompaniments), or as a sandwich or wrap. Shawarma is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato, and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips, and amba.

With the right amount of garlic paste and mahmoura (chili paste) smeared in the super soft khabous (Arabic Bread) and pieces of delish chicken grilled to perfection. The shawarma here can be part of your staple diet.
Mutton Shawarma:
Fans of mutton will definitely like this. I find it a bit chewy at times but still juicy and tasty nevertheless. Shawarma is an Arabic rendering of Turkish çevirme [tʃeviɾˈme] 'turning', in reference to the rotisserie-cooked nature of the meat, which "turns" around an axis. Similar naming conventions apply to the Turkish döner and the Greek gyro, both of which reference the turning action of the associated cooking mechanism.​ 
Dolma aka Stuffed Vine Leaves:
This is not to everyones taste, but a healthy snack I have been a fan of. ​Dolma is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes common in the Middle East and surrounding regions including the Balkans, the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia. Common vegetables to stuff include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, eggplant, and garlic. The stuffing may or may not include meat. Meat dolmas are generally served warm, often with tahini, egg-lemon or garlic yogurt sauce
​Cheese Mahmoura Manakeesh:
Order this only if you can take spicy. The chili paste is extremely potent and might burn your intestines. If you are okay with spicy, go all out with this combination.
Cheese Meat Arayes:
​Arayes are pita bread sandwiches stuffed with minced lamb meat, tomato, onion and different spices.  Although it’s a popular market and restaurant food in the Levant region, Arayes are ideal choice for barbecue and cookouts. And also can be easily prepared in house. Baked, grilled or even toasted, it doesn’t matter as long as they are crispy outside and juicy inside. Arayes are preferably eaten fresh from the oven/grill with fresh yogurt and pickled green olives. 

The word Arous (singular of Arayes) was commonly used in the region to refer to all kind of sandwiches, nowadays it precisely refers to this kind of sandwiches.

Have it while its hot, The cheese melts over the soft juicy minced meat covered in a freshly baked crisp bread that will make you fall in love with Lebanese food all over again.
Sfeeha / Fatayer:
​If there is one pastry item that deserves a standing ovation from the Lebanese kitchen, it is sfeeha.

Sfeeha is basically a little meat pie; made extraordinary by the folks in Baalbeck (the number one tourist destination in Lebanon, site of incredible Roman temples). The meat mixture, first of all, is a combination of ground lamb (beef is good too), with onion, parsley, tomatoes, a dash of chili pepper, pomegranate molasses, labneh and (the key!) a bit of tahini. The meat mixture is uncooked and bakes with the dough.

Fatayer is a Middle Eastern meat pie that can alternatively be stuffed with spinach (sabanekh), or cheese (jibnah) such as Feta or A'kawi. It is part of Arab cuisine and is eaten in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and other Arab countries in the region.

​In crux, Bite sized portion of minced meat pies, can be had as snack or a meal if you can have twenty of them in one go.
Baklava:​
Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo-filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire.

Rating

Interiors –
Bad

Location –
Excellent

Ambiance –
Average

Value for Money –
Excellent

Service & Hospitality –
Good

Quality & Taste of Food –
Excellent

Cost–
About AED25-50 Per PAX

Cuisine–
Lebanese

Address–
Branches:
1. Opposite Dubai Central Post Office and Emirates NBD Bank, Karama, Dubai
2. Opposite Dubai Grand Hotel, Damascus Street, Qusais, Dubai
3. Near Safa Park, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah 2, Dubai
​4. Emaar Street, Damascus Street, Qusais, Dubai

Verdict

​Residents love this place to the hilt. And tourists should add a visit to Al Reef Lebanese Bakery to their itinerary. As this place serves the best Lebanese food there is! It doesn't get better than this.
Power Couple & Lifestyle Bloggers Jannat Manghnani (@PriyankaVidhani) & Pawan Manghnani (@AyaashPaw) love food. It's the only thing they eat. They embark on a unique adventure every evening trying to break free from the routine while soaking in a new experience, well detailed into blogs so friends & family can benefit from them. Read about the entire experience by checking out their various blogs. Remember, A drop of ink may make a million think.


Posted in Food ~ The Tasterpreneur    Tagged with al reef, lebanese, karama, street food, legendary, bakery, manakish, shawarma, hummous


1 Comments

VJ - May 31st, 2016 at 11:19 AM
Soooo many memories here

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