Friday, October 1, 2010

Dubai Restaurant Review: Tribes, Mall of the Emirates

In a nutshell: Original African concept restaurant with great food and friendly staff

Mall of the Emirates recently opened its new extension, in the place where the jumping fountains used to be - Prada, Chanel and other designer labels are clearly better money spinners than a fancy fountain especially after the Dubai Fountain opened at Dubai Mall. In addition to a slew of shops that I will never be able to buy anything from, there are a slew of new restaurants, some of which are refreshingly new concepts. Old names include Biella (although my last experience of Biella Times Square was a disaster) and More Cafe, with new names including a French bistro with Dhs 30 coffees (!!!), a Chinese restaurant which is where I'll try next and Tribes which is where I ate lunch.

Tribes is an African restaurant and the African theme encompasses the interiors with sheepskin-covered chairs, drums and shields on the walls; the staff who are all from various African countries and are dressed in ethnic uniforms with facial designs painted on; and the menu which offers lots of grills with African-inspired marinades and sauces. In some restaurants it can be hard to choose because nothing really takes your fancy, here it was hard to choose because it all sounded so interesting. There are numerous salads, sandwiches and burgers as well as grilled meats and fish plus desserts of course. Our waitress greeted us in her language of Shona, from Zimbabwe, and offered to take us through anything on the menu. Halfway through our meal a group of staff gathered at the entrance to the restaurant to sing and play the drums - great atmosphere!

Whilst my Dad went for the burger, I opted for grilled red snapper with spicy tomato and courgette and my Mum ordered the watermelon, parmesan and rocket salad. Side orders included sweet potato fries, since sweet potato is meant to be better for you than regular potato as it's full of antioxidants (although the deep frying part may negate all that), I ordered a side of those. At a nearby table I saw sandwiches being delivered which were grilled panini-style and the chips served were tiny julienne'd potatoes that reminded me of these fabulous salt & vinegar crisps you used to be able to get that looked similar - not Chipsticks which are big and made of corn, these were tiny slithers of potato, does anyone know the name and if they still make them?? Hmmm.

My snapper was perfectly grilled so that it retained its moisture but was also firm and the accompanying spicy tomato and courgette was delicious. Fish can be a bit bland sometimes, but this sauce had the perfect level of piquant to give it a great taste without burning your tastebuds off. The sweet potato fries were also excellent, although because sweet potato goes so soft when it's cooked they had been very very lightly battered to keep them together. I liked them, but will order those tiny little potato chips next time. The watermelon salad was saved from potentially being a bit tasteless by the deep fried parmesan cigars that came with it and the burger was juicy and fulfilling. Prices are similar to other mall restaurants although some of the grills were well over Dhs 100 which is quite a lot to pay when you can't have a glass of wine with your meal. Tribes is the only African restaurant that I know of and I will certainly go back: a great new restaurant concept that breaks from the usual mould.


  1. Thanks for the review. Had a great meal there for lunch with a nice atmosphere.

  2. Thank you for your comment, glad you enjoyed it as much as I did!

  3. Watermelon Salad was recommended by a friend. It was pure goodness! I love the ambience and interior decor.

  4. Thanks for the comment. I will have to try that next time myself!

  5. hi. we had a nice dinner in tribes mall emirates and we enjoyed the dance and the music, very nice fibe.
    I met a delightful waiter who spoke numerous languages and i was really surprised that he could chat to me in french and to my two friends in spanish. We were really impressed and felt sorry for him in that he deserves a better position than a waiter. Perhaps something in a more elevated position what with his immense linguistic skills and customer facing skills

  6. Hopefully he'll prove himself and get promoted! Thanks for the feedback

  7. Hello,everybody
    We are from sweden and went to Dubai for 2 weeks , and being in the Mall of Emirates we heard the drums which attracted our attention, we saw a nice well decorated restaurant as if we were in africa, nice ambience, very delightful food , nice way of celebrating a customer's birthday, but what astonished us the most was the fact that one of the waiters could recognise our english accent by saying , are you from sweden? we said yes , and then he greeted us in swedish, what a pleasant encounter.

  8. Glad you had such a great experience! Thanks for posting up on the website.

  9. My first visit to Tribes was not a good experience for me.However,second time it was amazing,very great service from the Moroccan waiter.

  10. The Pacific Green decor was amazing - i can recognise their chairs anywhere.

  11. I have been to Tribes restaurant with a friend of mine for lunch, we asked one hostess from where the meat come, my friend asked her again the originie of the meat cause she could not hear, then this hostess answered" coming from australia I said" impolite person, we had to leave the shop and we havet seen any manager supervising the shop around, dont really know which great atmospher the previous comment talk about, we were left on our own, noisy place, ,, the hostess in question had a curly hair she looked ugly full of arrogance, we went to another restaurant next door and completly cool place,

  12. I dont see what make this restaurant so special for you? was it the noise of the drums? the slow service delevery? or the false african concept where it can only be seen in the decor or maybe on the waiting staff?
    Very Noisy restaurant. .... SEE the way you talk about tribes is like they have paied you to talk so nicely about them in such a way. or you know one of their main top managers... I dont honestly see how this restaurant can be african as one previous comment said " african restaurant but no african food" and he was right. black waiters yes true but very poor general manager who gives more importance to the entertainment than the service. we were looking for our waiter who was standing with the rest of waiters singing and there was the general manager standing singing with his team and we could see that his voice was the laudest one , we were so furious about that and decided to ask for the bill and leave, going back there is mission impossible even if it is a free meal for 4 wont change our frustration

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