The street food concept has grown from a novelty idea into big business made even trendier by the colourful Instagram-ready trucks and dedicated festivals that have been popping up left, right and centre here in the UAE.
So popular is the concept that regulations have been quickly rolled out to safeguard the consumer, which might explain why you don’t often find food trucks at the side of the road as you would in other major cities that have embraced the moving meal makers.
But for those who relish the guerrilla gourmet experience, the good news is that you don’t have to play hunt the trucks, as a new café is taking street food, well, back to the cafe.
Despite the Khalifa City area increasing its draw with the likes of the Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, you could say that Street 9 Café still conforms to the hidden gem tag.
Cosy and a bit quirky, the café is stylishly designed with leather sofas, smooth wooden tables, hanging plants, bookshelves and walls contrasted by shades of white and bright green.
The menu is inspired by street food – no frills fare that benefits from a creative twist.
The volcano prawns – a concoction of baby spinach, bits of shrimp and hot sauce dressing – gets us off to a fiery start. Its strong chilli flavour lends this salad a tasty kick that, at times, overpowers the shrimps’ natural flavour.
But I could eat the nachos all day: the hefty portion comes with either breaded chicken or shredded beef, mixed generously with heaps of crispy nachos, Mexican cheese, beans and guacamole, all topped with a cheese sauce – highly recommended.
For mains, I go for Mama’s prawns curry, a creamy bowl with mushrooms and rice. It’s not your typical curry: the white, béchamel-like sauce hides yellow rice and shrimps, so make sure to eat it while it’s hot to allow the sauce to blend fully with the rice.
The yakisoba composed of noodles, vegetables, wok fried prawns and chicken is a delightful concoction of savoury and spicy, making it a winner for those who love Asian fare.
Suckers for a good cheesecake, we end with the pistachio version, which certainly lives up to the billing, never mind if we’re bursting from all that food.
By the time we finish, the place is starting to fill up with customers from different age groups. It’s safe to say that Street 9 Café has managed to lock down the appeal of street food, an appeal that has captured the taste buds of many food fans here.
Need to know
Location: Al Forsan Village Town Square, Khalifa City
We say: Street food sans wheels
Cost: AED 255 for two
Opening times: Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-11pm
Contact: 02 666 6949