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Restaurant review: Soul Kitchen Dubai

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Restaurant review: Soul Kitchen Dubai

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This cool new Business Bay eatery is a feast for the senses, but does it satisfy the sense that truly matters? 

Dubai is home to a large number of Lebanese restaurants, but newly-opened Soul Kitchen is not your typical Lebanese restaurant.

A concept by Factory People, a Beirut-based group of artists and music enthusiasts, Soul Kitchen advertises that it’s here to ‘redefine the nightlife scene in Dubai while supporting Arab culture, cuisine, musicians, and artists.’ Intrigued? So were we…

Located in Business Bay, the art-focused venue features a stunning cocktail bar, outdoor terrace, two restaurant areas, and a soon-to-open hidden nightclub.

Located in Business Bay, the art-focused venue features a stunning cocktail bar, outdoor terrace, two restaurant areas, and a soon-to-open hidden nightclub.

The vibrant menu is inspired by the Lebanese diaspora, serving heart-warming Lebanese dishes fused with Latin American flavours. Two cultures that are deeply passionate about cooking, isn’t that a recipe for success?

There’s an energy at Soul Kitchen, even on a Monday night, that makes a visit absolutely worth it, with a cool crowd that made us feel like we were a part of something great. It sort of has the familiar, community feel of a local pub without the smell of stale beer and below-par food. Already top marks from us.

We start the evening with a couple of cocktails at the bar. The signature Arak bellini (Dhs64) is made with prosecco, lychee, lemongrass, and for a Middle Eastern twist, Arak; and the Mastiha basil (Dhs64) is a twist on a classic gin basil cocktail with Mastiha for a fragrant kick. Both go down a treat and perfectly set the tone for the rest of the night.

The restaurant quickly fills up and we take our seats – all eyes on the stage at the back of the room which comes alive with nightly vinyl sets and live bands.

First to arrive at the table are the sharing-style starters. The hummus chimichurri (Dhs68) looks like a traditional Arabic hummus served with crispy fried bread, but the Argentine chimichurri sauce adapts perfectly to the unfamiliar territory, adding a zesty punch that makes this staple dish even more delicious.

Another highlight was the calamari (Dhs85), a common menu item in Dubai yet rarely served to perfection. Here, the calamari is served grilled (instead of fried) and is perfectly charred, delightfully tender, and topped with crispy garlic.

Instead of ordering the seabass ceviche (Dhs85), be sure not to skip their signature take on the dish, the white fish tabbouleh (Dhs75). Fresh local white fish (catch of the day) is served in a bowl of refreshing tabbouleh water and topped with jicama. Each mouthful is creamy with just the right amount of textures, flavours and, acidity. A party in our mouths.

Having had our fair share of seafood to start, for mains, we opt for the tamarind lamb chops (Dhs220) and vegetarian manti (Dhs125). The lamb chops are cooked perfectly pink in a Morita chili and tamarind glaze. But it’s the wonderful crispy layered potatoes that steal the show with a dollop of smoked goat labneh.

The manti are filled with vegetables and feta cheese in a spicy-yet-sweet caramelised tomato sauce and generously sprinkled with more feta. The perfect comfort dish that warms the soul and leaves you wanting more.

Verdict: A beautiful fusion celebrating the very best of two cultures in a magical setting. We’re already planning our next visit.

Soul Kitchen, Marasi Drive, Business Bay, Dubai. Daily 5pm to 1am. Tel:(0)4 836 0900. soulkitchendxb.com

Images: Provided

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