One Carlo Diaz
Some visit Global Village for retail therapy. Others go for the vibe.
After all, the open-air theme park, one of Dubai’s most popular winter destinations, is dotted with hundreds of vendors selling everything from quirky trinkets to natural beauty products, while live entertainers are scattered across the sprawling venue.
Over the years though, a new breed of Global Village visitor has emerged: Intrepid foodies who embark on an annual culinary pilgrimage to identify the best dishes the multi-cuisine destination has to offer.
Here, The National embarks on a Global Village food trail to create a bite-sized guide of highlights.
Floating and Railway markets for Asian cuisine
At first glance, Global Village is a veritable rabbit hole of endless food outlets. This year, nearly 300 cafes, stalls and restaurants are on-site – a mixed bag of old and new vendors whipping up sweet and savoury dishes and desserts.
Thankfully, the park has designated areas where these are clumped together, some on a random basis, others based on cuisine. The Floating Market houses Asian delights.
This area alone has 32 outlets. Most of them serve the same street food-inspired dishes, notably cheesy baked mussels, grilled baby octopus and chicken barbecue skewers.
The pineapple fried rice from Zubaidah Kitchen is visually exciting and large enough to share. Jasmin rice is tossed with mixed seafood bites and chunks of sweet fruit, all served on a pineapple boat.
All manner of dumplings can also be found here. The filling and tasty Sichuan chicken and prawn dumplings at Sus Dim Sum are a must-try. They’re complemented by a spicy sauce.
Another Asia-inspired food-focused area is the Railway Market, modelled after the popular Mae Klong market in Bangkok. Make this your go-to for desserts.
When in the Middle East …
Asia aside, many other cuisines are represented across Global Village, including delicacies native to the Middle East.
Middle Eastern food stall Fatteh serves Palestinian musakhan rolls. These are crispy on the outside, with the shredded chicken filling within bursting with a tangy sumac-laden flavour.
Excellent lamb chops await at Skewers. Priced at Dh40 for two, the dish delivers on its smoky promise and is served with a tangy sauce that cuts through the meat’s richness.
Turkish street food is well represented, too, with many outlets dishing out Turkish-style ice cream, baked potato and pitta sandwiches. Turkish Kofte & Grill House serves a traditional Inegol kofte sandwich, which I can smell from afar. The kofte, made from ground beef, is juicy, peppery and utterly delicious.
Two dishes I would not reorder are the lobster roll from the aptly named Lobster Roll, as the meat is a bit bland for my liking (although the melt-in-the-mouth bun will appeal to bread lovers); and the stir-fry from Nodo, as the sauce-to-noodle ratio is such that the dish is overly savoury.
Not all mango sticky rice are made alike.
While Global Village is teeming with dessert options, if I have to choose one, it’s Mango Tango’s eponymous dish, which is as authentic as it can get.
The shop uses Thai mangoes and glutinous rice, served with a refreshing coconut sauce (ask for an extra serving if you want your mango sticky rice drowning in tropical goodness).
Food is no longer an afterthought at Global Village. For many, it’s the main event. And it doesn’t have to break the bank either, with prices ranging from Dh20 to Dh60.
Perhaps the most useful tip is to go on an empty stomach – because just when you think you have no room for more, another mouth-watering plate will catch the eye.