It's probably the finest, most upscale Lebanese restaurant outside Lebanon. A restaurant that feels like home, a home setup and homey food, details that your mother would use on her dining table. That's Em Sherif, a Lebanese restaurant in Bourj Khalifa Dubai Mall.
Em Sherif is about a restaurant that doesn't have a menu, fixed set plates selected by Em Sherif herself, a fine set of cutlery, two forks and two knives, porcelain plates, silver lower plates and glass bowls for serving.
The restaurant is a signature, a copy of Beirut. Eight backlit windows decorate the upper level hosting two large glass tables like dining tables, a ceiling half broken like old Lebanese houses, walls painted in blue and old plates decorating its larger part. In the middle is the signature oven. Mirrored tables, most of them round, are set to perfection with a selection of fine china and a table napkin.
Service starts as you sit. You are served, helped with the table napkin and pampered so you have a permanent smile on your face. The space is indeed beautiful and the food is exceptionally good. If a Lebanese restaurant deserves a star, it's Em Sherif.
A Starred restaurant experience priced at 320 dirhams per person without alcohol.
Food is succulent:
- A tabbouleh like no other, a tender mix of shredded parsley mixed with so little borghol that you don't feel it's there, diced tomatoes and lemon zest. Lightly lemony, lightly oily, this tabbouleh is literally like no other I've had before. The lettuce is cut and cleaned like Starred Michelin restaurants do it.
- Hummus, light, smooth and bright that melts under the palate in perfect balance. That's one of the finest hummuses I've had to date.
- Mashed potatoes, mixed with some spices and covered with tender goat meat. Baies roses, the ones we use on salmon, make of this plate a piece of art.
- The Mankoushe, this little Mankoushe on its thin fluffy bread topped with homemade Zaatar.
- Stuffed Swiss chard wrapped, tender and soft, lightly lemony... Amazing.
- Fattouch with pomegranate molasses and grilled eggplant. New, innovative and tasty.
- Labneh with crunchy walnuts, olives and olive oil beautifully presented in a chunk floating in olive oil and decorated with green peppers.
- Kebbeh sajieh, tender meat and borghol with a light juicy filling. Fried cheese triangles, flaky and oil-free, mini sambousik with tender minced meat and a crunchy envelope... Amazing is the least that can be said.
- Did I tell you that Moudardara is my favorite Lebanese plate? Em Sherif does it like magic. Cooked al dente, it leaves a certain crunchiness and a crispness those mini onions add. Mix it with the lemony cabbage and enjoy.
- Borghol b banadoura... And I melted... And I remembered home, my grandma, mum and in Beirut and the ladies I've visited in the villages of Lebanon. That's a plate I've eaten again and again. Tender and watery, cooked to perfection, tomato juice, smooth borghol and peppers that add a pinch of spiciness. Amazing!
Hot meals followed. A total of 35 plates landed, or would land, on the table. The fatteh is a must try. Mini crunchy bread, fried and crispy, no fat, cold condensed Laban, tender eggplant and pine nuts. It is delicious.
- Fries, simply potato fries the homey way. Thick, crispy, yet tender fries with salt and enjoyment.
- Now for the meat. A wagu meat, tender like butter served next to onions and grilled tomatoes. The chicken tawouk has a certain mix of spices I've never felt before. I would have personally expected the presentation of those two dishes to be better and different when compared to all the other plates.
- Riz 3a Djeij, a homemade rice with minced meat and lots of crunchy almonds and cashew nuts served with tender chunks of chicken. A yummy sauce with long lasting after notes of enjoyment. Amazement is the feeling.
Yasmine, the manager whom I know from Beirut, was here to welcome me. I didn't know Yasmine was here and was so happy to see the dedication put into every single detail of this restaurant. Thank you for your attention, smile and dedication.
The only plate that doesn't fit this Lebanese extravaganza is the orange sauce mixed with shrimp. Tasty it is, but bizarre considering all the others.
The food was so good... The desserts are even better. An amazing Meghlé, an exceptional mouhallabiya, tamriyyeh made in fingers, mistki ice cream, a pomegranate mix (nachawiyet remmen w tamer), chocolate biscuit bites made in balls, Oum Ali the Em Sherif way and mistki ice cream. Impeccable bites of traditional desserts made with added value, an added touch of finesse we can't call a twist, but more like a touch of class.
I'm so happy to have tried Em Sherif, a source of great, exported pride.