All business at this fish market


If you think you've tried everything Arabic on the menus this side of Beirut, think again. The Al Sultan Brahim seafood restaurant at the InterContinental Hotel Dubai puts a new spin on Middle Eastern food, thanks in large part to an inspired selection of mezze.

Those familiar with Lebanon's dining scene are doubtless familiar with the name. Launched in 1968 by three El Ramy brothers, the Dubai outlet is the group's first international venture.

Seated outside by the creek – an unseasonably cool breeze makes it bearable – we're amazed how popular the place is, particularly with UAE nationals and visiting Far Eastern tourists. They're probably all here for the family's particularly piquant secret sauce that makes its way into both salads and mains. It's creamy in texture, slightly tart and just hot enough to dress up the fish.

We ordered a mixed selection of hummus and loved the DownTown variant, which features the secret sauce. But from parsley and fava beans to fried meat balls, you can have your chickpeas any way you like.

What with the vine leaves and the oh-so-fresh Mutabbal, we've almost no room for the fish we ordered from the frozen display tucked away at the back of the restaurant. But the signature Al Sultan Brahim fish (red snapper) comes deep-fried and golden. Crisp on the outside and soft but firm on the inside, it is so fresh it almost tastes of the sea itself. The massive Al Sultan marinated shrimps, are also among the best we've had in the city: plump, succulent and juicy.

If there's one place you must take visiting friends and family to for authentic regional food, this is it.