I’m sitting reading Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur on the shores of the Kahlid Lagoon in Sharjah. I’m savouring words like, “Our backs tell stories no books have the spine to carry”, whilst sipping a coffee after lunch at the stylish Al Rawi restaurant at the Al Majaz Waterfront.
For those who are visiting or living in Dubai there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to satisfy every palate but if you venture just a few kilometers to the neighboring emirate of Sharjah you will find this super designer space, a book shop, and restaurant. Not only does it provide a tasty breakfast and all day menu you get to enjoy the setting with decor and interiors designed by Pallavi Dean. Events and creative workshops are held regularly with cookery demonstrations and talks by esteemed chefs and if you are a fan of cookbooks, there are plenty to flick through and purchase among a vast array of books.
For lunch, I share the Za’atar and pumpkin salad that brings a hint of the flavours from the Middle East to the plate. Many local households keep their Za’atar blends a secret but we know its a mix of oregano, thyme and a hint of sumac. It has been heralded as a health food for centuries, long before the term superfood was coined. It is a rich antioxidant with a tangy taste and instead of the usual bread this time it is scattered over a fresh salad with goats curd. Then, for a taste of Thailand, we tuck into the char sui beef which is lovely and tender and the sweet and salty marinade blends beautifully into the meat on a bed of black rice that gives it a perfect texture. Char sui ( caa siu叉燒) means ‘fork burn’ and refers to the fork-like metal skewer that holds the beef over the heat. It’s a filling dish with lots of interesting flavours accompanied by a refreshing apple and saffron cooler to quench the thirst sitting outside enjoying the waterside view.
A highlight is the pistachio cake, made with cardamom. pistachio paste and a buttercream ‘hat’ with a sprinkle of pistachios. Great colour too!
My Al Rawi take away
Good food can be enjoyed in any setting but Al Rawi restaurant offers a cool and cultured space for you to nourish yourself and your time.
The gourmet sandwiches, in particular, mushroom, avocado, beetroot, provolone, frizze, with truffle fries and aioli. I had a taste, it was delish.
A concise menu filled with tasty ingredients and plenty of gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian options.
Things to see in Sharjah
Sharjah International Book Fair (annual event)
Sharjah Museum of Islamic Art & Culture
The Butterfly House on Al Noor Island
Sharjah may not be the obvious choice of Emirate to visit when you have Dubai and all its finery next door, but it’s worth the short drive (it took me less than 30 mins from Dubai Mall) if you fancy a slower pace and a ‘bite’ of culture. There are concerns about traffic delays but I visited on a Saturday and had no issues. Sometimes its good to just go see, who knows what’s out there to whet our appetites and what will lead us to our next story to share. As the title suggests, Al Rawi means, ‘the one who tells stories’, in Arabic, and it is doing just that, reworking the lines that tell a new story within the UAE food scene.