As an non-Muslim expatriate in the UAE, Ramadan is the season when I have to be more modest and extra careful with my actions. The holy month of Ramadan is a time of fasting and reflection for the Muslim community. While for me and most expats, it is a time of cultural immersion. At first, the prohibitions are quite hard to grasp, but with full respect, I eventually learned to appreciate and see the beauty of this season.
One of the Ramadan traditions that I look forward to is the Iftar, an evening meal taken after a day of fasting. It is a traditional feast shared with family and friends. Early this week, I was invited to experience an amazing Arabic Iftar at Na3Na3 at The Address Dubai Mall.
Na3Na3, pronounced as NaNa (an Arabic word for Mint), is a modern Arabic restaurant at lobby of The Address Dubai Mall. The restaurant serves authentic Middle Eastern cuisine in a distinct Arabian ambiance and hospitality.
Ed and I arrived at Na3Na3 just in time for Iftar. A staff presented the marvelous buffet spread before guiding us to our table; starting with the tower of dates surrounded by bowls of nuts and dried fruits and ending with the huge selection of Ramadan beverages. She explained that the Muslims traditionally break the fast with dates and a glass of laban. The custom still fascinates me even though this is already my 6th Ramadan in Dubai.
|a table of dates, nuts and dried fruits at Na3Na3|
Although non-fasting, we couldn't wait to start our dinner when we saw the delightful array of hot dishes and a tantalizing table of Arabic sweets! But first, a time to say hellos and how are yous. We shared a table with a fellow blogger turned good friend, Pinay Flying High, and her companion J. We were later joined by a famous Filipino blogger, SoloflightEd, and his girlfriend. Lucky me to be invited and be seated with two of my favorite Filipino bloggers in Dubai!
|The Bloggers and friends :)|
Na3Na3's buffet spread for Iftar is extensive! I didn't know where to start! Despite being lured by the baklavas, I managed to begin my Middle Eastern culinary journey perfectly at the salad and cold mezze station. No guilt feeling or calorie counting was done as most of the selections are light and healthy. I had a fresh salad and portions of potato kibbeh, moutabel and mushroom salad. My choices from the vast selection of appetizers were really good and flavorful!
|excellent array of Middle Eastern cuisine|
|bread, salad and mezze in a counter adorned with Arabian lamps and decors|
Na3Na3 is famous for Arabic home style cooking. The main dishes were cooked in an open kitchen, and kept traditional and simple. There were excellent varieties of grilled items, hot mezze and authentic Middle Eastern dishes. A few International cuisine, like fusilli pasta and beef tenderloin, were given a delightful Arabic touch.
The highlight of the Iftar is the Ouzi carving station which I skipped at first because I'm not really a big fan of lamb meat. But since it was the 'star of the night', I took a portion and surprisingly loved it! It tastes not as strong as I expected. It is perfectly seasoned; mild yet still with the distinct after-taste.
|hot dishes at the live cooking station|
As always, my favorite part of the buffet is the dessert section. A fine array of Arabic and International desserts were beautifully displayed in the counters. Tucked on one side is a very inviting tower of baklava. I simply love Arabic sweets because they are not that sweet and most have cheese and nuts on them! :) My dessert choices were perfectly paired with the tiny cup of Arabic tea offered by the Arab staff. It was a wonderful and traditional way to end the splendid Iftar at Na3Na3.
|the very inviting Baklava tower|
|a fine selection of delicious Arabic sweets|
|This I love: creamy Arabic pudding garnished with chopped pistachio|
|a table of International sweet treats|
*Iftar buffet at Na3Na3 costs 195 AED (beverages included).
*available daily from sunset to 9:30pm
The Address Dubai Mall
Contact # +971 4 888 3444