Warm, flavourful and buzzing with life, Al Ustad Special Kebab is a 40-year old gem nestled in the bylanes of Meena Bazaar. A favourite among kebab lovers in Dubai, Al Ustad is one of the oldest and best kebab restaurants in the city. So, what makes this place a hidden gem? Read on as Social Kandura chats with Abbas Ansari, the man himself.
Al Ustad Special Kebab is the hard work and vision of Mohammed Al Ansari who came to Dubai in 1941. During his initial days, Ansari did a whole lot of other jobs before he started off a food business. Being a chef himself, he made and sold bread in Dubai’s Abra market, back in the 1950s. His passion for food drove him to start Al Ustad in 1978. He started the restaurant with a huge loan of AED 100,000 which he borrowed from his friend.
However, things worked out well and the restaurant saw a massive fan following. Later on, Ansari’s sons Abbas, Taleb, and Majid took over the enterprise, which has grown leaps and bounds today. “My brothers and I are involved in day to day activities. Although we started off in a very small scale, things changed drastically in the 90s after HH Sheik Mohammad became the ruler”, said Abbas Ansari. The charismatic Majid Ansari is the most visible of the three brothers , who together run the Iranian restaurant.
Creating magic in the kitchen
Moving on to the main aspect of the restaurant- the food. Al Ustad is 100% Iranian and serves a range of juicy kebabs with different meat cuts. The skewers of chicken and mutton are marinated in yogurt and then barbecued in open flame and are as popular as ever.
People from different parts of the world come here to indulge in a hearty meal. The palette preference therefore varies with the nationality. “Pakistani and Saudi people find the Yogurt kebab a bit sour, while Indians and Pakistani particularly enjoy Joojeh and Sheesh kebabs. On the other hand, mutton yogurt rice and yogurt kebab is a staple order among most of the locals”, added Abbas.
Abbas also advices foodies to try the mix platter (serves 2) for AED 94, or the bigger one for AED 140 which serves three. All the food are sevred with a side of bread, yogurt and french fries, making it a hearty meal. Speaking of such delicious kebabs, we were curious to know the recipe behind it. While we thought there are a whole lot of secret ingredients that go into the making of this. decadent dish, Abbas laughed and said ‘we keep it simple’.
“We use yogurt, salt, pepper, red onion chopped, and all our meats are tender line- I guess that’s the secret. It’s my father’s creativity. These kebabs are famous in the South of Iran where they call it Kebab Lari.
The restaurant feeds about 800 everyday and the number doubles on Fridays. More than 300 kg of meat and chicken are used on their kitchen on a daily basis. The kitchen is up and running from 11 am until 1 am everyday and 5 pm to 1 am on Fridays.