Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and is also the time of fasting. Muslims who are fasting are not allowed to eat, drink liquid, smoke and engage in sexual relations with the spouse from dawn to sunset.
Iftar is the meal that breaks the fast. Conversely, Suhour is the meal before the fast.
Over the course of time, both Iftar and Suhour have become social events, that may be partaken even by non-Muslims. Hotels and restaurants in Middle East countries usually cook something up to attract diners during this time. Ramadan tents blossom in the city, the perfect place to gorge in (unlimited) Arabic cuisine, especially, among others that are offered in the restaurants/hotels.
The Banana Island Ramadan package comes with buffet Iftar (and Suhour) at Azraq Restaurant. After living for quite some time in the Middle East, and practically having Dubai as a pitstop a few times a year, this was my first Iftar experience.
Iftar in Banana Island is supposed to be from sunset to 8:00pm while Suhour is from 9:00pm to 2am. Worried how overworked our stomachs would be from too much food/eating, we decided to come early for Iftar, which did not happen as we enjoyed our time at the beach.
The restaurant was almost filled with diners when we arrived that we were seated at the last table outside the restaurant where the dessert section is. We would move inside the restaurant later, though, to enjoy oud music and somehow feel the Iftar buffet ambiance.
Azraq’s buffet menu is mostly Arabic, with a few basic Indian dishes (Indian bread and tandoori chicken) and Italian food (pasta and pizza).
The usual suspects in a buffet are there: cold mezze, cheese, bread, main course and dessert.
In addition, live cooking stations and Ramadan juices were on offer.
So how did I find my first Iftar experience? The excitement was there… But if not for the majority of Arabic dishes, it would pass up for just a normal dinner buffet. We did not venture all areas of the Iftar though, and missed the henna station on the other far end, one which me and my friend would have gladly done.
It is said that Iftar costs QR265 in Banana Island. If you are just a dining patron, you need to pay QR100 for2-way boat transfers, increasing the damage to the pocket. Iftar dinner buffet in the city seem to be much lavish and getting good reviews as well come to about the QR265 too. I don’t think the price (and the boat transfers) justify the experience. But since it is included in our package, it was a much welcome inclusion.
My bravest try for the night: lamb brain salad
Favorite dessert: red velvet cake
Azraq Iftar’s Strong Points: wide selection of dessert!, prompt service by the crew; wide variety of fresh fruits served (including kiwi and dragonfruit)
Azraq Iftar’s Weak Points: Food was OK, nothing spectacular