Dubai is surely a foodie's delight with its excellent culinary offerings. The modern cityscape, is generously dotted with some of the best restaurants, of a wide range of cuisines. Having recently moved to this cultural melting pot, I was eagerly looking forward to get on a delicious joyride. And being a food lover and a blogger, the reasons were many. One such good reason came in the form of an invite, to review an African restaurant called Tribes.
Tribes, a casual dining restaurant, opened about 4 years ago in the fashion dome of Mall of the Emirates. Its uniqueness is stamped in its African influence. It offers a cultural and culinary experience, inspired by the varied flavours of Africa and its diverse tribes. Bit unsure of my expectations from the place. Yet excited to do the taste testing, I chose my seafood loving, photographer friend, as my companion for the evening.
A step into Tribes, and we were engulfed by the friendly and cheerful atmosphere. Being a weekend night the restaurant was occupied to its full strength by families of different nationalities. Thankfully our place was reserved, and were seated immediately by some extremely friendly staff. As our eyes got accustomed to the low lighting, the modern and very interesting decor, started glowing from every corner of the restaurant. The place is done by some striking design elements with lovely African influence, away from the cliched masks and animal skins. Along with the earthy hues and the textured walls; the open kitchen with chefs working their magic, just added to the appeal. The infectious ambience, the cheerful music and smiles on faces of all around, gave us all the signs that we were going to have a great evening.
In the words of the restaurant, they offer “a memorable fusion of exotic flavors, taken from the African continent since the Tribal era, influenced by the Spice Islands of the East, the French in the West, the Malay & Dutch in the South and the Arabic flavours of the North.”
The menu had a good choice of salads, sandwiches, burgers, grilled dishes and a good spread of seafood and meat dishes. Along with the tempting varieties in side dishes, mock-tails and desserts. But the lack of choice in vegetarian dishes was very evident.
Along with the menu, we were served a loaf of warm date and walnut bread. It was dense, warm, mildly sweet and oh-so tasty. Just the way a good bread should be.
As recommended by the staff, we ordered for “Hakunamata Platter”, a house speciality. for the starter, which was like flavours of Africa on a plate. It was huge; with 6-7 varieties of dishes – prawns in peri peri sauce, calamari, chicken lollipop, African pie, fish and potato croquette and an interesting salad of bitter gourd and onion.
Mandy being a seafood enthusiast, loved trying all the versions of seafood. Our favourite turned to be the prawns with the delicious Peri peri sauce. The lollipops were nice too. As warned by the staff, the croquette was dense and heavy, good enough to be part of main course. The calamari was a bit chewy though. Overall a good and a large platter. Best ordered for 2-3 people.
For the main course we ordered the "North African chicken burger" and "Seafood Stew". While we waited for the main course to arrive, we were surprised by the gathering of the staff around us with the drums and celebratory attitude. Soon they broke into a song and dance; which uplifted the spirits of the place by several notches. And this was not the solitary performance, during the course of our meal.
To quench our thirst, we were recommended "African sunset" and "Aroma of Africa". We just went with the suggestions and were proved right when we sipped these refreshing mocktails.
After having such a fulfilling meal we thought of skipping the dessert. But not ending the eveing on a sweet note would have been a sin. And so we gave in, to the indulgence of having “Chocolate malwa pudding”, a house speciality again. If the presentation is eye catchy, the taste is simply delicious. Mildly sweet with bit gooey center; served with vanilla ice cream and creme anglaise to contrast the texture, it surely made my taste buds a very satiated soul!
Staff:The most striking aspect of Tribes, is its charming staff. Hailing from different parts of Africa, the staff is a good reflection of the variety that Tribes has on offer. They are warm, jubilant and have a pleasing demeanour. And with the periodic jig of drumming, singing and dancing, they ensure a meal is not just about food. To get a feel of the place, check this video, which shows its fun vibe through an impromptu flash mob style song and drumming session.
Verdict – Tribes is a carnivores delight with its platter of meat and seafood dishes. The flavour inspirations from African tribes, has been suitably matched to dishes that suits everyone's palette. The infectious cheerful atmosphere and friendly staff, will surely make your meal a memorable one. Though if you are looking for a quiet meal or a cosy corner, then be prepared for some surprises! Also hopefully more vegetarian fare is added, in their modern take on African menu.
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Image courtesy - Mandy Toh