On one ordinary day of the year 1996, residents of Mpumalanga City in South Africa paired for the first time, the fiery hot sauces of a new eatery with the most succulent chicken they had ever tasted. Thus, began the journey of Galitos, a brand that soon expanded not just to other countries in Africa but ended up operating 150 restaurants in 15 countries all over the world.
For those who don’t like hot spicy food, maybe they should go grab a salad or something but if like me you do like to dial up the chili, please read on. Galitos’ signature chicken is flame grilled and brush basted to achieve that perfect tenderness but that is not all that they serve. One South African dish that I always wanted to try was the Borewors. These are traditional farmer’s sausages that are a staple at every working-class South African table. Traditionally, they are made from a blend of pork, lamb and beef which is why I never thought I would be able to try them but luckily, Galitos make their borewors from freshly ground beef. These sausages are hand made in store and the labour of love was evident in every bite. They serve a chicken version called Zulu sausages as well but if you don’t like beef or lamb, don’t bother because the sausage casings are usually made of sheep intestines. They also make artificial casings now but even those are made from cellulose found in animal hides so you would still be able to taste the animal. It may be a bit much for most people but I don’t mind it at all.
If you like to play it safe however, I would like to recommend the newly launched mini bold burgers. These cute little sliders come in four variations. Each type comes with a different kind of Galitos signature sauce and I especially liked the baked chicken and pulled chicken.
Other notable mentions are the chicken tacos and perishrooms. Besides the soft tortilla and the fact that they were super spicy, the tacos had little similarity with their Mexican cousins. The chicken was shredded of course but all the flavour and taste came from the special Galitos sauce that it was marinated in. The mushrooms were grilled with tomato and onion cubes before being doused with a generous helping of herb and lemon peri peri sauce. It was served with an unexpectedly flavorsome garlic bread which complemented the velvet like perishroom texture.
Last but not least, my favourite dish of the evening was the Prawn Espedata. Espedata is the Portuguese term used for the technique of cooking meat on skewers. Often, bell peppers and onions are added between the pieces of meat. They can also be prepared with squid, fish or even shrimps. What made the Galitos prawn espedata so special are the signature sauces. Let me warn you though, if you ask for hot and spicy, you better really mean it because Galitos definition of spicy is way more serious than what you could ever imagine. I believe I have mentioned in a previous article that I love super spicy squid, crabs and prawns so this was so much fun for me. Every time I have had seafood that is this hot, it has been cooked with some form of curry; either Goan, Sri Lankan or Thai. I have never had grilled seafood in my life that was this spicy. I enjoyed myself so much that there were tears of happiness rolling down my cheeks or it may have been my natural reaction to the hottest sauce in the world, I am not entirely sure. Whatever it was, I know I am definitely going to do it again and again and again.
With so many brunches around town every Friday, it is getting increasingly difficult to choose one that stands out unless something new and absolutely unheard of is going down in terms of the theme or the food. One thing that makes it easier to make a choice is the value proposition.
With the Fusion restaurant’s Friday brunch at the relatively new Ghaya Grand hotel it becomes easy to make a choice because at 149 AED per head, it is an absolute steal; especially if you take into account all the variety they have to offer. At this price, I would have been happy to settle for one or two different types of cuisine but this place had pretty much everything covered. There was an Italian counter with a live cooking station, an Arabic counter with a full lamb roast, an Indian counter, Dim Sum, a variety of seafood including a lavish sushi selection, and even a selection of Thai dishes.
I have had fish in garlic butter sauce before but the Garlic, Butter and Honey Salmon was unlike anything I had tried before. The subtle honey flavour gave my palate something completely new to work with. It was salty of course but also just a little bit sweet. That, paired along with the unmistakable salmon flavour and rich butter sauce was enough to make me return for seconds.
I also loved the spicy, Crab in Thai green curry. I know Thai food is supposed to be hot but I don’t remember it ever being this spicy, even in Thailand! It may not work for everyone but I just couldn’t have enough of it. I remember having spicy crabs in Colombo some years ago and thinking that ‘this is the only way to eat crab’ at the time. There is something about hot chili that goes down so well with the soft and tender crab meat. I had to stop myself to from going for seconds otherwise I may have missed out on all the other wonderful food that was on display.
One trend that has caught on so well in Dubai is the ‘make your own pasta’ option that is available at many restaurants and brunches across the city. I think this is great because it gives you control over how you want your pasta to be. Unless it is a signature dish or a special creation by the chef, I am all about transferring control back to the customer. I call it eating out 2.0. This is where you decide the ingredients for your dish and if it doesn’t turn out the way you had expected, you have nobody else to blame but yourself. Chef Raheem at the live pasta station at Fusion ensured that we did not completely burn the boat. He was available on site and gently nudged us in the right direction if we appeared to be lost or got too carried away!
The best thing is that all these options come at an unbelievable price. In my opinion, this truly is the best value brunch in Dubai.
When a restaurant has the word ‘pancake’ as part of its name, you walk in with the pre-conceived notion that pancakes are their speciality and whatever else you eat there on that day, your meal has to finish off with a pancake and some syrup.
When a restaurant has the word ‘pancake’ as part of its name, you walk in with the pre-conceived notion that pancakes are their speciality and whatever else you eat there on that day, your meal has to finish off with a pancake and some syrup. The folks at Pancake House do expect most customers to order pancakes as well, just not necessarily at the end of their meals.
To ensure that the pancake is not flattened under the shadow of better-known dishes, the very first section of the Pancake House menu lists variations of the item that made it famous when it first opened its doors to public in the 1970s. Naturally, if the first thing you see on the menu are pictures of glorious, fluffy pancakes, it is hard to go further without ordering at least one. Besides, this restaurant has been serving customers much before I was born, so if they want my meal to start off with a pancake, that is precisely how it would happen!
I was advised to order the caramel, banana and walnut pancake and I have now decided that henceforth, all my meals should start off with a pancake! The crunch from the walnuts complemented the soft bananas and fluffy pancakes in a way that can only be described after you have experienced so many delicious textures in one bite. I realised that the pancake is not really a dessert item as I had previously believed. It has been a source of sustenance since the middle ages and could be eaten as a comfort food, celebratory dish, breakfast item, dessert or an appetiser!
Another thing that I learnt on that day was that a Salisbury Steak is not a steak. It is a sheep in wolves clothing. A more appropriate description would be ‘meatloaf’ that is shaped like a steak. It is also served like a steak and is supposed to be eaten like a steak but it is not a steak. It is basically a dish made from a blend of ground beef and other ingredients, which is formed into oval shaped ‘steaks’ and served with brown sauce and rice. I am not sure how I felt about that but you should have seen the look on my face as I put a piece of this steak into my mouth after cutting it with a table knife.
If you like seafood, I would like to suggest the Tagliatelle Seafood Gambero. This was another dish that was enhanced by so many contrasting textures in each bite. This fettuccine shaped pasta was tossed marinara style, in a tangy tomato herb sauce. The cream dory, mussel and shrimp provided additional flavor and texture to this unique seafood dish.
Before I sign off, let me tell you what my favourite part of the menu at Pancake House was. It was a drink called ‘Ube Milkshake’. The ube is a type of yam or sweet potato which is a vivid violet to bright lavender in color. I am not sure how it tastes on its own but when combined with milk in a blender to form a shake, it becomes the sort of beverage for which you may be willing to drive down all the way to Abu Dhabi.