Persians follow the solar calendar hence the first day of spring technically marks the beginning of a new year. To usher in Nowruz (Persian New Year), Shayan Restaurant invited us over a festive dinner featuring traditional Persian dishes.
Entering the doors of Al Ghurair Rayhaan offered a sudden change of atmosphere in contrast to the busy and crowded street outside. On our way to the restaurant, we were welcomed with pretty artworks in the lobby. So far, so good.
Shayan is located on the far end of the third floor. Outside is a table setup called Haft Sin, a display of items symbolizing many things. For good luck, perhaps. Among the things on the table are candles, eggs, a plate of garlic, a mirror and gold fish. Yes, gold fish.
The ambiance of the restaurant leans toward the romantic side, especially when the santoor player began making music. I don’t know if it’s just me but I can hear oriental influences on the sound the santoor makes. Nonetheless it was soothing and entertaining.
We were offered a yogurt drink with mint, dashed with salt and pepper, for refreshments. It was something new for my taste, needing some time to get used to. We were also served traditional bread fresh from the oven. Unlike the normal Arabic bread, it has a nutty flavor that stood out with every bite. The usual salad platter was also present, with a handful of walnuts and cheese tucked underneath the greens.
It was our first time to try Persian cuisine and although we already had hints of what could probably be served, it was still a good experience. For starters, we had Ash E Shole Galamkar – a thick, green-colored soup topped with lamb and fried onions – and Dolme Barg E Mo – grape leaves stuffed with fresh herbs, rice and lentil.
The mains came shortly after. Sabzi Polow ba Mahi (marinated fried hammour fish fillet with Beghali rice) for me and Reshteh Polo (Persian aromatic rice and noodle layered with lamb) for the fiancé. The fish was really good, while the lamb was tasty and tender.
Our tummies were already full but we cannot resist to try this beautifully presented dessert. Golabi Zaferani ba Bastani (poached saffron pears served with ice cream) is a yummy treat. The ice cream balances the sweetness of the wafer and the heavily-soaked-in-rose-water pear.
It was a nice and filling dinner made even better with a new experience (I love the music among everything and I wished the musician played longer) and with meeting people you only know about online.
Happy New Year to all my Persian friends!
Al Ghurair Arjaan & Rayhaan by Rotana, Deira, Dubai
04 293 3000