Global Village has come to be known for many things over its 25-year history – from country-specific pavilions and cultural performances to whimsical wares – but one of its biggest calling cards is the plethora of delicious dishes on offer, some of them unique to the annual event.
It’s impossible to leave here without stopping for a snack, with vendors to be found at every corner and selling everything from hot corn in a cup and roasted chestnuts to freshly prepared crepes, pastas and kebabs.
Myriad flavours of bubble tea (chocolate cheesecake, anyone?) await, as do Chips Oman sandwiches and mahshi, a popular Middle Eastern stuffed vegetable dish. It almost feels like there’s nothing you can’t find at Global Village.
Sampling these and more is an exciting prospect, but it can also feel a tad overwhelming if you don’t know exactly what you want or what’s out there.
Here, we profile the most unique and popular foodie offerings available this year.
Dishes available only in Global Village
Kokorec from Turkish Kokorec & Seafood
This kiosk is located in a little lane with food stalls on both sides, with the Indian Pavilion visible on one end and America’s Pavilion seen from the other.
But even packed between numerous tempting kiosks, Turkish Kokorec & Seafood stands out because it is one of the only places in the UAE where you can get authentic kokorec. The hearty dish is made from lamb or goat intestines, and is considered a delicacy in Turkey and surrounding countries such as Greece, perhaps because it's painstaking to make.
Enjoy it at Global Village with toasted bread and herbs such as cumin, oregano and chilli for Dh30. Be warned, though, that this dish is a complete meal in itself.
All things passion fruit at Passion Taste
New to Global Village this season is Emirati-owned Passion Taste, a brand that is yet to launch anywhere else.
The kiosk is located close to the Floating Market. Its calling card? Every dish – both sweet and savoury – incorporates a generous helping of passion fruit. The pina colada (Dh25) is a best-seller, and is both refreshing and Instagram-worthy.
But if you’re looking for something more unusual, the passion fruit dynamite shrimp and passion fruit chicken tikka wrap (both Dh25) offer an intriguing sweet-and-savoury flavour profile, and make for a lip-smacking meal.
Mala noodles and mussels at the Floating Market
Those craving Asian flavours can find no better place within Global Village than the picturesque Floating Market, modelled on the famous one in Thailand. The structure houses numerous kiosks serving well-loved and authentic Asian dishes, many of which are prepared on the spot and come piping hot (perfect for chilly evenings).
Many stalls serve chicken or seafood tom yum soups that are well worth your time (and your dirhams), while tom yum fried rice is also popular. A Global Village special is to be found at BKK Station, which does a mean mala noodles dish (Dh40), with spicy sauce imported from Thailand and tweaked to make it more palatable to UAE tastebuds. Even so, it packs quite the punch heat-wise.
On the way out, stop by for the freshly grilled garlic butter or spicy mussels from Zaab Zaab.
Khachapuri and khinkali from Old Tbilisi
Located just a three-and-a-half-hour flight from the UAE, Tbilisi has always been a popular travel destination for residents. Despite that, you’d be hard-pressed to find many delicious Georgian dishes around the Emirates.
Old Tbilisi, a new addition to the Global Village roster, is set to change all that with its pretty interiors and traditional favourites such as khachapuri, bread filled with cheese, egg or beef [from Dh25]; and cheese or lamb khinkali, flavourful dumplings (Dh25 for three) that take both time and effort to prepare.
Rainbow burgers and taco ice cream from Choices by MT
Located in the same lane as Turkish Kokorec & Seafood is Choices by MT, which is hard to miss thanks to the multicoloured burger posters plastered all over. In fact, rainbow-coloured dishes are the unique selling point of the restaurant, which is Emirati-founded and not available outside Global Village as of yet.
The restaurant serves chicken (Dh32) and beef burgers (Dh35) within colourful buns. If you have a sweet tooth, try the taco ice cream (Dh20); not only is this block of multicoloured ice cream served in a curved waffle perfect for the ‘Gram, but it also features flavours such as pistachio, rose water and saffron, which are popular in the region.
Cakes and custard from Custaphoria
Asian-style cakes have been growing in popularity lately, and this kiosk in Global Village takes things up a notch with custard and Nutella-filled versions. Try the bite-sized Korean cakes (Dh30 for 10), which come in photogenic shapes, or go for a Japanese cake that comes with Nutella, Oreo, custard and even baklava (Dh15). Another must-try is Custaphoria’s hot drink (Dh21), which tastes like you’re sipping on piping-hot, liquid custard.
Time-tested dishes at Global Village
Regag from Traditional Kitchen
There are two Traditional Kitchen outlets in Global Village where visitors can pick up authentic Emirati bites made fresh in front of them. A popular and pocket-friendly street food dish is regag (Dh15) – a thin and crunchy Emirati crepe made by spreading a dough of wholewheat flour over a hot pan and topping with an egg, plus additional fillings such as cheese, Nutella or Chips Oman.
The stalls also prepare fresh luqaimat, a sweet Emirati dumpling dessert that is served hot with sweet date syrup.
Chicken machboos from Al Garhoud Restaurant
For those looking for a sit-down Emirati dinner, Al Garhoud serves authentic flavours in a fuss-free ambience. There are plenty of traditional dishes, including balaleet, a sweet and savoury dish with vermicelli and egg; khameer flatbread; and machboos with chicken or meat (from Dh35), a popular Emirati rice dish served with salad and yoghurt. If you’re wondering what separates it from a biryani, it’s all about the spice combinations.
Cevapi at Bosnian House
Few dishes are as popular, filling and delicious as meaty cevapi or Bosnian kebabs, a delicacy you'll find in all corners of Global Village. Bosnian House, in particular, is popular for its tender and flavourful iteration, and serves the small oblong kebabs with pitta bread, red sauce, labneh and onion. Its cevapi goes for Dh39 for 10 pieces and is a great on-the-go snack .
Cheese wheel pasta from Wheel 35
Craving a cheese overload on a chilly day? Wheel 35 prepares its pasta fresh within a giant ring of cheese. You can also choose between truffle sauce and white sauce, and customise your ingredients and toppings. One generous serving starts from Dh25.
Churros from Churros
Those looking for a sweet snack can’t go wrong with these much-loved fried dough pastries that are native to Spain and Portugal. The sugar-crusted treats are served hot with a delicious chocolate dip and go for Dh25 for six pieces – perfect to share after a hearty meal.
Kebabs from Bundoo Khan’s
The Pakistani restaurant is a bona fide Global Village favourite for its kebabs and biryanis. There’s a reason it’s been coming back to the exhibition since year one.