Bu Qtair: Hidden gem in Jumeirah captured

This is perhaps the only restaurant in Dubai that hasn’t changed over the years despite its soaring popularity.

I visited Bu Qtair for the first time in 1999. We had just arrived in Dubai and went all over the moon discovering a run-down small shack in the unexpected of places – on Jumeirah beach, serving lip smacking fried fish. In-fact the only change that must have taken place over the years is the change in name from Bu Qtair Cafeteria to Bu Qtair Restaurant (with an additional tagline - Fish Restaurant, in their modestly printed visiting cards).

The charm of Bu Qtair lies in the contradiction in its location – the sudden discovery of a modest portacabin selling fried fresh fish on the beach with the 7-star hotel Burj Al Arab as a backdrop.

As such a fish shack on a beach is not a novel concept, it’s the most common thing in many beach-front cities and places. But for a city like Dubai, it is a novel concept for sure, that too when it is located in the poshest of posh Jumeirah beach.

Seating arrangement here is basic – plastic dining tables and multi-coloured plastic tools (the later is an investment that the restaurant has done in recent years.No more investments please – the charm of the place would be gone completely!). There is a long queue while placing the order inside the tiny portacabin which also holds the kitchen area and once the order has been placed, there’s a long wait outside.

As the number of people waiting outside after having placed the orders, increase, so does the number of cars that drive in and park by the pavement.

The restaurant staff serves the diners sitting outside simultaneously while they attend to honking cars demanding their take-aways. It’s a manic rush but all’s well that ends well – everyone gets their right orders (no goof -ups there) and each person goes back a happy soul with an overfilled tummy!

Ishita Saha is a Dubai-based blogger who writes culinary travel blogs featuring Dubai and the world beyond.

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