Review of Sthan Restaurant in Dubai – Food beyond borders. Nothing more. Nothing Less.
India. Pakistan. Afghanistan. Countries, once upon a time – long before the British Empire, existed as a single nation. United as one. Today, thanks to political, geographical and various other factors, things probably aren’t the same anymore and it probably may never be. But if there’s one thing that brings us all together, it’s the food. The joy of sitting around a table with your friends and family is second to none, but the food that is served and relished is perhaps what will make the gathering even more memorable.
On the 22nd of December 2017, Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza, both sporting legends from Pakistan and India, respectively, inaugurated Sthan. A restaurant that truly emphasizes on food beyond borders. Now for a food critic coming from an Indian household, in all honesty, I’ve never really been a big fan of dining at Indian/Pakistani restaurants for the sole reason that why would I eat something that I can easily cook at home. Ladies and gentlemen. I’ve been proven wrong for the first time.
For a guy who will perpetually have unrealistic expectations when it comes to food, Sthan does not disappoint. The attention to detail is phenomenal from the interior décor, homely staff, presentation of the dishes, spice bar, the list just goes on.
We started off by being served with some freshly baked tandoori naan and a concussion of curd with some garlic and a few other spices. As a pre-starter, the dip packed quite a punch. Now for a menu with so many signature dishes we found it quite difficult to choose what we wanted to eat. So, we took the easiest course of action. We asked the manager Danish to give us his recommendations and we’ll just follow suit.
Soup for the Soul
There begins an adventure I never saw coming. Now for a lamb fanatic, Paya (trotters) is something I could go bonkers over and the ‘Lahori Kharode’ was beautiful. It’s got a taste of something your grandmother would cook for you at home. The rich taste of meat stock and garam masala was quite predominant. It was refreshing. A teaser for what was to come. We also ordered the ‘Tamatar Mushroom Shorba’ but that wasn’t anything special as it was just like regular tomato soup.
Moving on to salads, we ordered the ‘Cycle Paneer – Dal Salad’ as the manager suggested it was something rather unique. Well we weren’t that impressed but again you can’t blame the dish because I am yet to come across someone who goes nuts over a salad or even make a statement like “Damn! That was the best salad I’ve ever had” because at the end of the day, it’s just salad. An amalgamation of green leafy things. Also, come on, A little healthy is required.
Kickstarting with Starters
Time for the small plates. Kind of a pre-snack to the main course. For a meat lover, the ‘Peshawari Chapli Kebab’ was kick*$$. As described in their menu, a Pashtun styled minced kebab patty made from ground mutton with coriander, crushed chili and spices.
Like I’ve always highlighted in my restaurant reviews, I’m a hardcore non-vegetarian. But every now and then I’ve learnt to appreciate some good old vegetarian ‘khaana’. I don’t usually order vegetarian starters so I made an exception as the manager kept insisting on it and agreed to two vegetarian starters. Yes. What was I thinking right? Sthan nails it again. A fusion of Paneer (Cottage Cheese) and the ultimate Indian snacker/ side dish ‘El Papad’ the ‘Paneer Papdi’ was just wow. I mean it’s just a fusion of two simple ingredients yet leaves an explosive impact on your taste buds.
Now no desi meal is complete with a palate cleanser and that’s where Sthan’s chaat kicks in. The ‘Kadak Palak Chaat’ was an extremely unique dish. A huge departure from the usual mainstream Indian street food. Crispy spinach fritters that were deep fried, nicely garnished with some spiced potatoes that were topped with the traditional Indian mint chutney and some pomegranate seeds. It truly was something different and in a really good way.
Before we moved on to our main course, we obviously had to keep our thirst quenchers in hand and in an interesting addition to their extravagant menu, Sthan has a good number of refreshments served in ‘Bantas’ or ‘Goli Bottle’ as they like to locally call it. Though invented by an English gentleman Hiram Codd in 1872 and brought to India by the late british, it has a very desi touch to it. Though almost extinct in India thanks to soft drink conglomerates like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sthan’s decision to serve a few sodas with a twist is going to make a lot of people feel nostalgic. Our choice of drinks included the Desi Fanta (Regular Fanta with some crushed ginger), Desi mojito, Aam Ka Panna and Shikanjvi all tasted great. However, I wasn’t a big fan of the Khas Chilli Sharbat which was just too sweet for a drink that’s supposed to be mildy spicy and the regular sweet lassi which tasted really bland.
Well here comes the mega bonanza we’ve all been waiting for. The ultimate main course. This is one area where I know Arabian Gazette reporters tend to go all out. So what was the first thing I ordered? The Hyderabadi Haleem. People of the world. I have officially declared this my favorite Haleem. Until now, this coveted position belonged to Jaffer Bhai’s eatery. It was just the perfect ratio of meat and lentils. Served bubbling hot in a small bowl, I had tears in my eyes with every bite. The succulent aroma that filled the air was insane.
Next, we had the Paneer Malai Kofta curry. A simple dish simmered in a kasuri methi flavored gravy. We also had the ‘Afghani Korma’ which had a sweet taste to it but I wasn’t a big fan of it as I felt the chicken could have been a little more tender for a yoghurt dominated curry.
The Indian breads we had along with it were brilliant. They were freshly baked whether it was the Kalonji Dal Naan or the Lucknowi Paratha or even the traditional dhabi di roti, they all went very well with the gravies. These things generally go very well, hand in hand with any gravy.
Given the number of dishes we had, it was obvious we had no space for dessert. After immense pressure from the waiter, we magically created some space in our tummies for a rather sweet and delightful ending. The Jalebi ki chaat, a simple mixture of Jalebi and rabdi gives you the feeling of something you would have back home. But the real star was the ‘Set Lassi’ or as the Bengalis like to call it “Mishti Doi’. Something so light on your stomach yet with each bite you just want more and more. Something I would personally recommend to anyone visiting this restaurant.
Overall, I was extremely satisfied with the restaurant. So, satisfied that a few days later, I took my sister and brother in law to the restaurant as regular customers – because I simply couldn’t get enough of the Haleem. Prices were extremely reasonable as most of their servings are good for two people. You can come here with pretty much anyone only to leave looking forward to your next visit here.
Average price for two would roughly cost you AED 100. Like I said, pretty reasonable. Sthan restaurant is open for business from 12 in the afternoon till 12 at midnight.