This weekend the Abu Dhabi Food Festival welcomes the region’s first Street Feast on the Corniche where local and international food trucks and pop-up restaurants will offer bites ranging from Dh20 to Dh50 each. The Street Feast has already attracted big crowds at Al Gharbia and Al Ain the previous two weekends. In Al Ain alone, 15,000 people turned up over the three-day event.
Food trucks are the main attraction – 10 have trundled into the UAE from the United Kingdom. Dan Shearman, a home cook who serves lesser-known cuts of meat out of his London food truck The Roadery, says he loves the food-truck movement.
“It’s an adventure,” he says. “That’s what I got into this for – to see a bit more of the world. The plan was to see a bit more of Britain but now I’m in Abu Dhabi. The reception here has been amazing.”
The menu Shearman has brought to the UAE includes three different varieties of “Bracos” (British tacos): halloumi cheese, slow-cooked Wagyu beef cheek and beef tongue. Each comes on a soft tortilla with mint yogurt sauce and blackberry hot sauce.
Check out the other food trucks for lamb cutlets with pea purée, confit broad beans, anchovy and caper butter from Donostia Social Club. Or braised ox-cheek sliders with horseradish crème fraîche and pickled onion rings from London’s ATE Street Food truck.
Zaytinya, a Lebanese eatery that opened in Al Seef Village Mall three months ago, has a pop-up cafe at the Corniche. Akshay Dosaj, the co-managing director of Purple Honey Group, the group behind Zaytinya, says festivals such as these offer a unique opportunity for restaurants. “You get to interact with customers at a festival in a way that you can’t in a restaurant,” says Dosaj. “Here, people want to talk to you. They’re happy to understand your brand and what you’re selling. And there’s a live band, sunshine, fresh air – it just gives you another dimension on how to eat.”
“The street-food scene attracts a certain kind of person and they’re all so excited by it. People just love it,” says Shearman, adding that he’d never trade his food truck for a bricks-and-mortar restaurant. “The only way I would do brick-and-mortar is if it was a brick-and-mortar with a van inside it. And me inside the van. Then I’d do it.”
• The Street Feast is at the West Plaza on the Corniche on Thursday from 6pm to midnight; Friday from 2pm to midnight; and Saturday from 2pm to 10pm. Entry is Dh10 per person; children under 12 are free.
All information on Abu Dhabi Food Festival events, including locations and timings, is provided by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority www.tcaabudhabi.ae