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The Street
            Back to Open Skies

Travel to Dubai


Wasl Square, Dubai

1 July 2014

Words and images by Sandra Tinari

Wasl Square, in Dubai’s Al Safa district, beside the beachside neighbourhood of Jumeirah, is both a highly sought after collection of modern apartments and a haven for shoppers and foodies. The small but diverse community, adjacent to the sprawling garden oasis of Safa Park, hosts an eclectic collection of independent shops, restaurants and cafés. Entire days can easily be lost strolling the grounds of Dubai’s beautiful city garden, before taking a leisurely lunch in Wasl Square, topped off with a languid browse through its unique stores for some retail therapy to source one-of-a-kind gifts and edible treats. 

Al Safa and neighbouring Jumeirah are among the city’s oldest and most exclusive neighbourhoods, and this strip of the coast, with its upmarket shopping and large beachside villas, was once known as the ‘Beverly Hills Of Dubai’. But, thanks to the arrival of Wasl Square and Ripe Middle East’s Friday farmers’ market and café-cultural space The Archive (both closed for the summer) in Safa Park, this neighbourhood has joined others such as Jumeirah’s Beach Road, which now boasts several fashion boutiques and independent stores and cafés, and the industrial area of Al Quoz – now the city’s gallery hub – as an indie alternative to the city’s mega malls.

Chez Sushi

A UAE home-grown restaurant, founded by successful restaurateurs Raed Dabbous and Hiba Kosta, Chez Sushi focuses on being an easy-order sushi restaurant, offering dine in and home delivery. The restaurant’s ‘Let’s Roll’ mantra encourages customers to make their own maki and temaki rolls, choosing their own fresh ingredients, before seeing them expertly rolled by chefs at the open-plan sushi bar. A choice of brown or white rice, a variety of fish and seafood, vegetables and dressings mean that the possible combinations are almost limitless. 

For those less inclined to create a masterpiece of their own, Chez Sushi’s menu includes an extensive range of Bento sets and sushi roll favourites and specialties, such as California rolls, spicy tuna maki and Philly temaki (salmon, cream cheese and cucumber). Healthy salads and hot meals, including a range of teriyaki, tempura and tataki dishes, are also available. Chez Sushi’s mochi ice cream, a Japanese desert comprising a light mochi (pounded sticky rice) outer layer surrounding an ice cream filling, is a must try in the heat of Dubai’s summer. 

Wasl Square
Al Safa, Dubai
Tel: +971 800 78744


Appealing to the curious and nostalgic, S*uce Gifts, a lifestyle concept store from one of Dubai’s favourite contemporary fashion boutiques, is where art, design and quirky gifts intersect. Situated in the northern end of Wasl Square opposite Safa Park, S*uce Gifts offers a carefully curated selection of international and regional design pieces, customised collections and designer collaborations in a fun, gallery-like space, which has been designed to look like a town, complete with soaring electrical towers, miniature houses, a tree with its own unicorn and floating neon clouds. 

Relaxed, cheery creativity sits at the heart of the S*uce Gifts concept, and a smile inducing, eclectic assortment of gifts and unique interior design items happily sit side-by-side in the Wasl Square store. Neon art installations, ironic oversized night lamps and Cara Delevingne sketch t-shirts will please young design aficionados, while a vast array of notebooks, ceramics, candles, handmade kitsch accessories, retro inspired homewares and idiosyncratic crockery will brighten anyone’s day. For unforgettable souvenirs and one-of-a-kind gifts for loved ones and friends, S*uce Gifts is a treasure trove for those seeking an offbeat original. 

Wasl Square
Al Safa, Dubai 

Tel: +971 4 346 3393

Pantry Café

Dominating the corner of Al Wasl Road and Al Hadiqa Street, the Pantry Café’s cavernous dining-hall sized space is abuzz with the chatter of diners from sunrise to sunset. Pantry Café serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between, and it’s focus on quality ingredients (organic where possible) and neighbourhood feel attracts food lovers, who appreciate fresh produce and the laidback atmosphere. 

The menu features dishes from around the world, including European breakfast classics such as eggs Benedict and a full English, Asian dishes such as Thai green curry and bakmi goring, locally inspired zaatar croissants, shakshouka and dukkah lamb chops and Wagyu beef tenderloin steaks and Canadian heritage Angus beef rib eye, which are popular choices among regulars. 

The open kitchen, a cook-to-order pizzeria and a beverage bar add to the lively feel of the café, which offers indoor and outdoor dining, as well as a take-out menu. Soft lighting, high ceilings and industrial touches – exposed brick and utilitarian-style fixtures and fittings – also add to the relaxed, community atmosphere. 

Wasl Square
Al Safa, Dubai 

Tel: +971 4 388 3868

Yamonate Atelier

This Japanese bakery creates delicate pastries, savouries and sweet treats. A first-of-its-kind in Dubai, the bakery fuses the best of European recipes and baking traditions with the artful mastery of Japanese cuisine. Think cutesy bunny and kitty custard cream buns, freshly made pain au chocolate and curry doughnuts (delicious deep fried butter doughnut rolls filled with minced beef curry). 

Under the watchful eye of Master Baker Kuni Maeda, Yamanote’s breads, pastries, cakes, croissants, sandwiches and sweet bakery items are all prepared on site with high-quality, seasonal ingredients to preserve the purity and authenticity of the Japanese culinary culture. 

Wasl Square
Al Safa, Dubai 

Tel: +971 4 388 1811

Aces Shawarma House

The innovative black and red interior at Aces Shawarma House has been designed to reflect the playing card towers we all loved to build when we were young; grabbing a bite to eat at the top of a house of cards makes for an interesting experience. Started by four Emirati brothers who shared a passion for good food and playing cards, Aces Shawarma House offers a variety of slow roasted meats, thinly carved and dressed in a selection of traditional sauces and spices before being wrapped in flatbread. 

Open from 10am to 10pm, Aces serves up 12 varieties of shawarma, in addition to falafel wraps, salads, baked potatoes and even sushi. Its novel seating space saver, coupled with graffiti clad walls makes for a fun fast-food dining experience. 

Wasl Square
Al Safa, Dubai 

Tel:+971 4 3387667


The lively, modern design of Zurna’s first Dubai restaurant belies its commitment to serving traditional Turkish food as authentic as you’d find in the streets of Istanbul and Ankara. With a kitchen led by Turkish chefs, Zurna offers the best of the country’s culinary heritage in a fun, cheerful environment, while palm trees, brightly strung coloured lights and lanterns also tempt diners to eat outdoors under the stars. 

The restaurant’s pomegranate tea is refreshing and healthy, while its baklavas – filled with apple or orange – have garnered an army of admirers. However, for Zurna, the name of which encapsulates various meanings, from a welcoming invitation to dine in Arabic to a Turkish musical instrument and a kebab from the city of Adana in southern Turkey, mains is its centrepiece. 

From lunch until late, the restaurant serves Turkish favourites, starting with cold mezze, which in line with tradition is laid out on a central table with a wide tasting selection. Hot mezze, more than 12 different styles of beef, lamb and chicken kebabs, and a variety of baked pide (traditional dough pastry with a variety of toppings, particularly cheese) are also offered. 

Wasl Square
Al Safa, Dubai 

Tel: +971 4 328 5043

Book Munch Café And Bookstore

Shelves of handpicked books, lovingly created comfort food, such as chicken schnitzel, burgers and ricotta and pumpkin cheesecake, and a sense of community are Book Munch’s stock in trade. Launched with the belief that there is nothing better than curling up with a good book and a plate of homecooked food, Book Munch has attracted a firm following of likeminded book lovers and foodies. 

The family-focused team runs weekly children and baby reading sessions led by a team of volunteer readers, while other regular events include book clubs and book signings.

Wasl Square
Al Safa, Dubai 

Tel: +971 4 388 4006