And never more so, perhaps, than during Ramadan when a massive range of iftar buffets become available.
Must Do Dubai decided to check out two very different iftars during the holy month - at the Warwick Hotel Dubai and the enormous JW Marriott Marquis.
The world’s tallest hotel has numerous dining options and Kitchen6 enjoys an eviable reputation for its regular evening buffet.
Not only is it vast and the food choices broad, but the individual preparation and cooking stations dotted around the dining acreage offer a sense of action and theatre – not a bad thing when you have kids in need of visuals while grazing.
Needless to say, Kitchen6’s iftar offering is also a whopper with an incredible 225 dishes available, taking in Middle Eastern cuisine to international flavours.
Yet, while this restaurant can seat 400 – and no doubt frequently does – it doesn’t let the quality slip amid the quantity.
The venue prides itself on “smiling chefs” and certainly two of them beamed when complimented on the finesse of the “curry” section – the moist and delicately flavoured lamb biryani was among the best to pass these jaws in while – and the imaginative salad corner.
While the temptation was to gorge on the healthiest side of the room, the Kitchen6 iftar has plenty of other treasures to discover, including some punchy little spiced prawns and DIY noodle soup where you customize with a selection of ingredients.
The chefs on Middle Eastern duties thankfully excel from cold mezze through to succulent lamb and demanded a second fly-by
With so much savoury on offer it would be all too easy to peak before dessert, of course, but spare a thought and a hole for the sweet station where the culinary conjuring produces a veritable dessert art gallery.
All this amid a restaurant atmosphere that is lively, certainly family-friendly and very multinational, ranging from those customers who have been observing Ramadan fasting to us foreigners and Kitchen6 returnees simply wanting to catch this fine eatery in iftar action.
Located on the third floor, it has a setting that is modern, yet calm while offering contrasting views of the bustle of Sheikh Zayed Road and the passing Dubai Metro trains.
Bayty is a more traditional iftar scenario with its ouzi lamb on a plateau of oriental rice taking pride of place; rightfully so as the meat pulled off the bone was moist, flavoursome and clearly marinated for considerable time.
The chefs here also score well on cold selections with their “salad corner” delivering huge flavours, ranging from Vietnamese and Thai beef salads, beetroot with orange to more traditional Fattoush, a refreshing Moutabal and Baba Ghanoush, Warak Enab (stuffed grape leaves), hot, red pepper Muhammara dip, Spinach Bil Zeit and a Loubieh Bil Zeit of green beans and tomatoes in olive oil.
The section competed well with the hot dishes on offer, from freshly grilled skewers to intensely flavoured stews and the personal highlight, Daoud Basha Lamb – juicy meatballs in a bright and plucky sauce.
Like other iftars, Bayty has traditional drinks available to start all this off.
While we hadn’t been fasting, we arrived suitably hungry and the likes of an apricot-based Kamar El Dine, hibiscus-flavoured Karkadeh and Jallap with pine seeds and raisins, were a refreshing route into preparing for the food to follow.
So, not the biggest iftar on the block, but an economical option if you have family or dining partners who don’t always want to down their body weight in buffet.
Kitchen6, JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay. Iftar costs 195AED for adults and half price for kids aged six to 12.
04 414 3000 or visit www.jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com
Bayty, Warwick Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, DIFC, iftar costs 125AED for adults.
Call 04506 9636, email info@warwickhoteldubai or visit www.warwickhotels.com