Saturday, 7 January 2012
Al Ijaza, Jumeira Rd, Dubai
Could this be the best juice bar in Dubai?
Jumeira Rd. A small, unassuming snack bar just like many others in suburban Dubai, serving shawarma, shish tavuk and falafel by the bucketload, nestling in the shadow of a souvenir shop displaying lifeless inflatables. Don't be fooled by appearances though, this is Dubai's best kept secret.
Al Ijaza has been around for 22 years, but the recent indie film 'City of Life' shot a scene here and since then, Google has gone crazy with people looking for the famed cafe. Despite starring in a film, Al Ijaza has kept grounded and not lost sight of where it started, keeping prices affordable and surroundings basic yet charming. It offers the usual staples like shawarma, burger and chips like its rivals, but at an extremely good price (sandwiches for 3 dirhams, shish tavuk 20 dirham with all the trimmings). However, it is not just its food that pulls the crowds in, but its extensive and affordable drinks menu. Previously, I raved on about Al Mallah's Tahiti drink, praising it for its naughty-but-nice mix of fresh fruit and ice cream; Al Ijaza is its stiffest competitor for the Best Juice in Dubai crown. Unlike its contemporaries Costa and Caribou Coffee, Ijaza offers smoothies made from entirely fresh fruit and no concentrates at a starting price of 6 dirham. The menu comprises of Cocktail drinks which have ice cream added to the fruity mix, and Fruit drinks which are nothing but freshly blended fruit bought that morning from Deira Food Souk. I sampled the fresh and zingy strawberry juice, then as I was feeling naughty, went for an indulgent ice cream cocktail. The cocktails have random yet original names, you won't find a pina colada or a Singapore Sling here, but you can guzzle a Twitter, Facebook, Lamborghini or even a Nissan! I settled for a Tahiti (pictured), mainly to see how it compared to its namesake in Al Mallah. Wow. The size pictured is Medium and yes, it was huge and a bargain at 10 dirham. A concoction of melon, strawberry, ice cream, fruit pieces and even cubes of jelly, this was one almighty dessert in a drink! Not only does Ijaza offer these delectable drinks, their dessert menu is a delightful sugar rush, offering massive helpings of Falooda, butterscotch ice cream and the biggest fruit salad I've seen in my life! If there are any world records in juicing, dessert making or even smoothies, Al-Ijaza probably holds them all.