Bu Qtair: seaside seafood on Jumeirah’s shore

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Appearances can be deceptive. In the case of one of Dubai's most popular restaurants this means no menu, paper plates, then and plastic tables and stools outside a hut -a Portacabin really — elbow to elbow with your dining neighbours with the traffic roaring down Jumeirah Beach Road just a few metres away.
But none of this matters when you are eating at Bu Qtair, where the fried pomfret, chilli prawns and marinated hammour have drawn a devoted following for more than two decades.
Each evening the queues begin, in anticipation of the 7pm opening. It is first come, first served, with no telephone reservation line.
The price depends on the type of fish and how much is ordered. Then the wait begins, as much as 45 minutes when the restaurant is busy.
For those yet to visit Bu Qtair, or anticipating their next meal, then consider Pawan Singh's photographs as an appetiser. In an evening spent behind the scenes and front of house, his images capture from the piles of fish marinated in a masala sauce to the anxious faces waiting at the servicing hatch. Everything but the aroma, that is.
Bu Qtair has been owned by the same family from Kerala since it opened on Umm Suqeim beach, moving to its current location with a picturesque backdrop of fishing dhows around ten years ago. The lack of a menu is hardly a problem. You can order anything you want as long as its fish, with a few extras like hot parotha, boiled rice and bottled water.
Abdul Karim, the brother of the owner, explained Bu Qtair's appeal to The National in an interview back in 2011
"We started very small on the beach: fishermen ate here, then the tourists started coming. And it hasn't stopped since then. We buy fish the same morning. That's why the food tastes good, because it is fresh, everything is fresh from our sea."
* James Langton

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