Veg out at Al Astad

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Veg out at Al Astad

No meat, no problem.

By (David Light)

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Published: Thu 20 Mar 2014, 11:44 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:23 PM

CONTINUING THE “OFF the beaten track” theme, here’s another one from the older end of town to whet your whistle. There are two Al Astad outlets in both Satwa and Bur Dubai. Satwa’s is in the bustling tailoring district and Bur Dubai’s, close to Dubai Museum.

Serving up the same vegetarian fare, either are more than decent restaurants if you’re looking for slap up, cost effective snacks and dishes.

Not being the biggest fan of any meatless meal, it takes a fair amount of persuasion before sitting down in a strictly herbivorous establishment. The smells emanating from the Satwa branch, however, were enough to convince us to pop inside.

The décor is as plain as plain gets - metal tables and benches, white tiled walls, metal water jugs and cups. The lay-out will be a tad underwhelming for some. To judge this book by its cover, though, would be a catastrophic error.

Before tasting what’s on offer, one of the most pleasing elements is the menu, or more specifically the price list. Nothing costs more than Dhs10. That’s right… Dhs10… and that’s for a full thali. Given that dishes can easily top Dhs400 in some of the city’s swankier establishments, that is some saving.

So what is there to eat? Imagine all your traditional Indian goodies, served up fresh and piping hot. Samosas, pani puri, wada pavs and parathas, all hearty and delicious, arrive on a metal plate and good job, for anything less sturdy could disappear in the ferocity of the scoffing.

Nothing really disappoints. For a treat we ordered an open samosa, which is a big old pastry, filled with vegetables, cut open and topped off with chaat ingredients. It’s stunning. Washed down with a masla chai and topped off with an aloo paratha – the whole dinner cost less than Dhs9.

Eating in a place like Al Astad really does gives the sometimes heady Dubai buzz a little perspective. Here’s an honest little place, plating up good food at fair prices. Okay, it may not be the experience UAE residents and visitors often crave, but it does prove that you don’t have to spend a fortune to eat well.

If you happen to be down that way, or are perhaps looking for somewhere very different to take guests to show you’re not that run-of-the-mill Dubai citizen, then give it a go.

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