Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Al Dejaj Al Shahi - for the love of the broth.

I lived in the Philippines and grew up eating Filipino food for 25 years until coming here in the UAE. That's why I said to myself that I'll enjoy every regional dish I can as long as I'm here and never to eat at Filipino restaurants because it'll feel redundant eating the same food I had growing up, a food I can cook at home.

However, I've been asking people from different countries to eat out with me on their preferred traditional restaurants and when they ask back, the only restaurant that comes to mind is Max's and it's expensive so this is the start of my search to find affordable and authentic Filipino dishes.

I and my wife were eating at this Nepali restaurant when I notice a large number of cyclist parking their bikes to a nearby restaurant and thought this might be Filipino restaurant because it's what we do after cycling, we eat, and it was. Because of the number of crowds frequenting the place, we said we'd come back and try Al Dejaj Al Shahi (yes, that's the name of a Filipino restaurant, the direct translation is Delicious Chicken according to my Arabic colleague) and see what the fuzz is all about, more after the break.

So we did come back, checked the menu and it has both of our favorite snacks, Beef Mami (Beef Noodle Soup) and Pancit Palabok (Stir-fried Noodle in annatto sauce), their best sellers were the Chicken Inasal meal (grilled chicken with refillable rice) and Silog meals (rice and egg with varying meat) but we just had chicken and the rice and egg can be easily done at home so went with the snacks. Placed our order from the guy at the counter who seems to hate his job, and got seated.

The place is spacious, minimalist interior design, and clean, that's a common thing about Filipino restaurants, the priority on cleanliness and hygiene including the staff. Very noticeable though is the stinginess on tissue, not a single table has a tissue box or dispenser.

Our food was served and it's on disposable paper bowls, looked around and everyone else's food was served the same, not the best choice tableware if you ask me, but looked it over and focused on the food instead.

My wife had the Pancit Palabok for 12 AED (3.5 USD), which she hadn't had in ages. I never got the chance to try it because she finished it no time indicating how good it is or just how hungry she was but at the end of the meal when I asked her if she likes more and just said that she'd rather try the Chicken Insal next time. So that means it's average because she would've asked me to order it the next day or have it delivered if it was really good. 

Mine is the Beef Mami, at first glance the broth looked like something I'd get from street vendors in the Philippines (which is a good thing because those hepatitis inducing food are so good) and so took my first sip of it and without a doubt, this taste exactly like those street Mami but clean. All the floating pieces of beef fat, scallions, MSG-filled broth and you get a whole boiled egg. I love it, I love the broth so much I had it refilled in no time. Unfortunately, that's where the praises stop, for 10 AED (2.7 USD) I didn't expect there would be much, but there's barely any beef meat at all and the noodles have a weird texture to it, it's not "al dente" if that applies here. I understand fresh noodles is hard to come by but I would've prepared it a bit more before serving it to make it chewier.

Add a spoonful of the chili oil and it'll make the broth even tastier.

Competing with my son's dinosaur for the first bite.

For a total of 22 AED (6 USD), we had our fill, I was extremely satisfied with the broth, and our cravings sated. If not for my love for soup I wouldn't even consider recommending this (not that anyone cares but still) that being said, if you would like to try a typical Filipino food and this is the closest place nearby, or you're just craving for some items that they serve like us, sure, go ahead but if not then I'd go to a different restaurant.
Al Dejaj Al Shahi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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