Dubai Consumer Mirror

Friday, September 01, 2006

Restaurant Review: Al Sammach

Reviews is something that i wanted to do here for sometime: movies, restaurants, products ..etc. I think i will start with this sea food place I had lunch at yesterday.

My mom was in town this week and I wanted to take her to a nice sea food joint. I have been to the Fish Market at the Dubai Intercontinental Hotel which everyone says it’s the best place in town. Seriously, I have no clue what the hype was all about on that place. Fine, it is a good place to have a decent seafood meal. But it all ends when you get the bill for a not-so-exhilarating experience.

So I made a few phone calls and everyone recommended a seafood place called Al Sammach. In Emarati (or Khaleeji), Al Sammach means the person who deals in anything that has to do with fish: fishing, trading and even processing (cooking, preserving ..etc).

Located in the Beach Centre, a relatively small shopping centre that is one block away from Mercato mall on Jumeirah's beach road. So getting there and parking wasn't really a problem.

So, we got there and walked into the place with mom, mother in law and of course, wife and baby M. Seating area was divided between the actual restaurant and an open-air seating area in the middle of the mall. The outside seating area seamed more cozy with the natural day-light atmosphere. Though it was around 3pm, the place was relatively busy. Never the less, we were seated quickly. Water, bread and a pickle platter were immediately served while browsing the menu.

The menu was straight to the point. 5 or 6 choices for each category, making the ordering/selection task for indecisive people like myself, a much easier thing to do. Mom ordered the Hammour with Lemon butter sauce, wife asked for her favorite Mixed Sea food platter and mother-in-law requested the Fish 'n Chips. As for moi, I selected my own Fresh Hammour, about 1.5Kgs next to 1/2 Kgs of large white shrimps, Half grilled and half fried which I couldn’t resist not ordering.

Cold starters arrived quickly. The Fattoush was REALLY good. The use of good quality Debes Remman (Pomegranate
molasis) was delightfully apparent. Hummos was OK, though it needed to be a bit more creamy and the portion wasn't as generous as its neighboring dish, the Fattoush. Cold vine rolled leaves were refreshing with hint of a red vinegar crisp to it.

Hot starters followed and i have to say, it was the best fried calamari I had in ages. You could feel the freshness of the squid. They weren't too chewy, nor too soft. The tenderness of the breaded fried calamari was close to perfection!

We also asked for the "seafood spring rolls". They came with a bowl of salty soy sauce. I think it would be better served with Sweet Chili, since the rolls were savory enough.

Now, this is where the ball was dropped a bit on the service. main courses were served gradually and as the plate were done, they would slide them in. Mom got her plate first and it looked pretty basic: 2 thick slices of white Hammour fillet swimming in a pool of lemon-butter sauce with fries on the side. I tasted it and it was a bit less zesty that I would've liked it. However, mom enjoyed her dish.

10 minutes later, a plate of grilled prawns landed and we literally ravished the plate. Each shrimp was individually seasoned with an aromatic paste of cumin, lemon and sweet paprika before the large prawns are thrown on a scorching grill.

Mother in law's Fish 'n Chips arrived and were prepared in a traditional, English style recipe. Nothing special about was about the plate. While me and my wife were still waiting for our plates, the 2nd half of the shrimps came cleaned, cut/spread in butterfly shape, breaded and fried to perfection. We dipped them in tartar sauce and the prawns were divine.

Surprisingly, my 1.5kgs fried Hammour arrived while my wife's Mixed Seafood platter is still MIA. My Hammour was very good. But i enjoyed it less cause of the delay of my wife's order.

We prompted a couple of waiters to the missing plate. About 10 minutes later, a agitated waiter (other then the one who took our order) came to our table saying that on the order slip in his hand, he can't find a Mixed Seafood platter and that he was sorry.

Fair enough, honest mistake. The Hammour was large enough for me and my wife. So, we didn't make a big deal out of it. And to be honest, it will definitely not stop us from eating there again. As for the bill, well i was surprised to see that it was only Dhs 250 for all that. I thought they gave us another table's bill, but it wasn't.

Bottom-line: I am adding Al Sammach to my favorite seafood joints in Dubai.


  • Sounds great - must go there!

    By Blogger nzm, at September 1, 2006 at 12:09 PM  

  • I'm not one for seafood but I read your post with huge jealousy! How I miss the good food Dubai offers.

    Back here in England, we seem to accept rubbish food and rubbish service as the norm. Service with a smile is practically none existant. Do you know I can't find one place where I live that I could even call slightly decent. Sad, and really not necessary.

    Most local pubs now only seem to offer food that can be zapped in the microwave. Tasteless!

    Family run restaurants with proper home cooked meals seem to be a thing of the past and the only thing left is fast food.

    Even the supermarkets only seem to offer the cheapest cuts of meat, that once cooked seem to feel like you are chewing on a bit of leather.

    I miss going out for a nice meal - in fact it's on the top of the list of the things I miss about Dubai. No matter what sort of budget you decide on for your meal in Dubai, it's always top notch.

    I feel a holiday to Dubai coming on!!

    By Blogger Desert Lady, at September 1, 2006 at 12:24 PM  

  • Mmm....Now I really feel like seafood.... and I'm sure Sky's mouth will water when she reads this. She's a seafood lover!

    By Blogger Dubai Sunshine, at September 1, 2006 at 12:44 PM  

  • Yum!
    Isn't seafood just the greatest...?

    By Blogger sky, at September 1, 2006 at 1:10 PM  

  • You know your comments about the Inter.Con then Al Sammach sums up the pretentiousness typical of too many of Dubai's western expats.

    Unless a restaurant is in a 5 star hotel most of them won't even consider it. And regardless of how good the restaurant actually is they prance about raving about it. So many of them, the restaurants that is, are also pretentious and certainly not worth the you said about The Fish Market.

    Then you try the simple restaurants, of which there are thousands around town, some in shopping malls, others roadside, and you find great meals at ridiculously low prices. Another close to Al Sammach is Automatic - excellent food & service and amazing value.

    No booze? No problem to my mind. The meal makes up for it, and drinks like fresh lemon & mint go down a treat anyway!

    Eating out is one of our big pleasures and I've been meaning to post reviews for a long time. You've prompted me to get on with it! In fact, I think I'll do Automatic first...

    By Blogger Seabee, at September 1, 2006 at 5:31 PM  

  • NZM - it was good .. plain seafood, no frills.

    Desertlady - i know what you mean. I am very picky when it comes to food. I don't care for the service as much as care about food quality, taste and freshness.

    Sky, better take ur sister out to some seafood indulgence rides... i am sure she will convert :)

    Seabee - i know exactly what you mean mate. Sadly, there is a fake conviction is that the more you pay, the better quality you get. Well, it could be true, but not all the time. I am sure if people look hard enough or, lets say, relax their standards a bit, I am 100% certain they will have much more enjoyable experiences.

    Good call on the Automatic review.. its one of my favorite Ramadan buffets as well..

    By Blogger moryarti, at September 2, 2006 at 11:26 AM  

  • Added to my checkout list:) thanks

    By Blogger Kishor Cariappa, at September 7, 2006 at 6:18 PM  

  • hi.. read the review and loved it.
    can you, or anybody, please help me with details regarding Al Sammach.. like contact and location info please?
    planning to go for a visit this weekend.
    do they, by any chance, have a website?

    By Anonymous maidy, at October 1, 2006 at 10:30 AM  

  • Thanks Maidy... it is located in the "Beach Centre" mall - about a block away from Mercato mall on the Jumeirah beach road.

    Its the same mall that has Burger King..

    Don't have the number, sorry.

    By Blogger moryarti, at October 1, 2006 at 3:39 PM  

  • So since that post, Sammach has become a favourite of ours...Except I've never been to the one in Beach Centre...Only the one in Souk Al Bahar.

    Regardless, we always enjoy our experience there. The food is a close to a homecooked meal as can be. The service is efficient and consistent. And we've been there so many times now, the waiters know us. And I love the unpretentious, homey feel to the place.

    Definitely one of my favourite places in Dubai!

    By Blogger Dubai Sunshine, at July 12, 2009 at 11:35 AM  

  • Your review reminded me of my all time favourite seafood place - its in Al Khan in Sharjah called Samovar or Sanobar. Run by a Lebanese family - they've grown enormously (both the sons who now run the restaurant and the restaurant itself). The last time I went there the food (especially the seafood platter was divine). They pick the freshest ingredients and never overcook the fish.

    It still has a relatively personal touch and for my money still the best seafood.

    By Blogger Mita, at September 16, 2009 at 11:52 AM  

  • Mita - thanks for the recommendation.. should definitely should pay it a visit! :)

    By Blogger moryarti, at September 16, 2009 at 12:08 PM  

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