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Dubai: Sheep head, lamb intestines on the menu at celebrity chef's new restaurant

Master Chef winner Mehmet Cubuk's Jumeirah bistro offers unique dishes from Turkish cuisine



by

Mazhar Farooqui

Published: Sat 9 Apr 2022, 9:39 AM

Last updated: Sat 9 Apr 2022, 10:43 AM

The appetising aroma of lamb kebabs and charcoal-grilled chicken wafts around you as you step into the newly opened Sirdanci Mehmet restaurant in Dubai.

But it's not until you savour the gastronomical delights on offer that you realise you have discovered a hidden gem in the heart of Jumeirah.

Championing firm Turkish favourites such as adana kebab, kaburga (meat ribs), sirdan (lamb stomach) and kurufasulye (haricot bean), this eclectic eatery may be small in size, but it's certainly big on flavours.

The restaurant is a venture of celebrity Turkish chef Mehmet Cubuk, fondly known as Sirdanci Mehmet.

The winner of the coveted Master Chef Turkyie title, Mehmet is famous for his culinary acumen as he is for his playful demeanour. So don't be surprised if he suddenly sneaks up on you and pretends to spatter your food with hand-squeezed lemon juice.

Videos of his pranks have already gone viral on social media. So much so that many diners wait in excited anticipation to experience it first-hand as they tuck into their meal.

"What's good food without a dash of fun," Mehmet says with a wink.

The road to fame, however, was anything but fun for the affable restaurateur.

"There were challenges every step of the way," says Mehmet. "I started off in the food and beverage industry as a sweeper, but I persevered. My hard work paid off. I was promoted as footboy and then as waiter."

Mehmet said he discovered his true calling when he stepped into the kitchen to take his first order as a waiter.

"The ambience and vibes of the place suddenly filled me with a sense of elation and gave me a new purpose in life," he recalls.

"I said to myself, this is the place I belong to. I immediately signed up for an apprenticeship at the kitchen and went on to become a chef."

More fame awaited him when he bagged the Master Chef title.

Before long, he launched his own restaurant in the Fatih district of Istanbul. Mehmet said his signature restaurant in Dubai is the brand's 10th branch and one of the closest to his heart.

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The eatery has an infectiously homely atmosphere, and the interiors are a rich riot of photographs showing Mehmet posing with celebrity guests.

Prices are surprisingly low, and portions are generously large.

"I want to raise the bar on Ottoman cuisine in Dubai by introducing good, affordable Turkish food in the city. I recreated the same dishes here that that have endeared themselves to legions of loyal customers in Turkey. All these recipes are original, which is why you won't find this taste elsewhere," he says.

The claim was not unfounded. The juicy kebabs and melt-in-the-mouth roasted lamb meat had us drooling in no time. Another equally delectable, though gross-looking dish is mumbar, which is essentially sheep intestine, stuffed with rice and meat.

The pièce de résistance, of course, was Şırdan, a uniquely Adana speciality made of stuffed lamb's stomach. It tasted great but, much like mumbar, was hard to stomach because of its appearance.

'Sirdan is a well-honed art for us, and we make it the best," says Mehmet who claims the dish speeds up metabolism and is more nutritious than meat. 'I want to popularise Sirdan all over the world," says Mehmet.

Businessman Musa Omar Chaudhry who has partnered with Mehmet said they are looking to branch out to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah soon. Mehmet said he is optimistic about their expansion plan.

"We will do great," he said. "I have a gut feeling."

Where: Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqqueim 2

Meal for two: Dh 100

Must try: Adana kebab (Dh70); Mixed grill (Dh150); Sirdan or lamb stomach (Dh30); Mumbar or lamb gut (Dh60)


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