Layali Baghdad is famous for a restaurant serving high-quality Iraqi cuisine. It is the relatively new sophisticated jewel in Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa City gaining attention for its rich and time-honored Iraqi culinary arts. You won’t miss the place passing by the street as a dramatic open flame from a barbecue pit near the venue’s entrance is always visible during open restaurant hours. We loved the conventional Iraqi windows too.
We received a very warm and smiling welcome, and the super friendly staff helped us to place our order and took us through each dish on menu one by one. Dining hall in neat, tidy & spacious. The menu is lacking in description. However, the staff is prompt & patient to answer all our complex question an did check for spice level.
First, we tasted lentil soup, which was thick and creamy blended with thin boiled spaghetti, served with assorted pickles of Stuffed Turshi, Amba Turshi, and Turshi with Vinegar. Freshly baked bread made it quite the feast. We decided to digest the heavy food along the course with of Laban Arbil, skinny salted yogurt drink which came in a steel tumbler.
The salads followed i-e yummy fried Aubergine cubes, walnuts, lemon, pomegranate, tomato, parsley and special spices. It was fresh, light and unusual with a perfect mix of tanginess and a touch of sweet with the smoky veggies. Mixed Kubbah (Mosul, Halab and Kubba Potato Chap) along with Arabic samosa presented as appetizers. They were all aptly golden fried and tasted distinctive; I cherished the Potato one most.
After placing an order, we went to check out the traditional Iraqi “Simach Masgouf,” which was cooking outside the restaurant in a glass grilling room around a fire pit. The Brown River Fish, known as Bunni was neatly cleaned and split down the middle and splayed on Iron rods around the fire for the slow cooking process.
It was satisfyingly good, nutrient-packed & wholesome meal and indeed cooked with simplicity. The skin is crispy, the flesh is delicate and flakes away from the bone. Its marinated with lemon, salt & pepper & tamarind (for a tad bit of tanginess for your taste buds). This dish has lots of protein, iodine and various vitamins and minerals which release energy slowly to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
The professional staff has carved the fish rapidly by scooping out the entire large fish-bone and serving us boneless chunks of fish fillet. We enjoyed the dish with white beans sauce and the ‘Amba Chutney’ (made with raw mangoes). It was the highlight of our meal, but we were too stuffed with soup, salad and the starters to finish off in full.
The menu is extensive at Layali Baghdad we also tasted Lamb Ouzi which was kids favorite & Iraqi Kebab, the lamb skewers with fat. It was most tender & succulent. Being a fan of Shrimps, I tried Grilled King Prawns, and they were great in freshness and quality, though I would prefer some more spice marination to add to the taste.
There was truly no space left for dessert, but staff insisted on trying their well-known Iraqi Zarda which was milk and rice mixture with saffron. It was smooth, silky, indulgent and simply divine. We finished off the meal with refreshing Iraqi traditional tea recommendation “Chai Nomi Basra” made over the hot iron surface covered with sand. Slow-cooking process for this special tea helps in digestion & brings out more taste from the cardamom-infused tea leaves. Most of the staff and Chefs are from Iraq and know the process well.
LAYALI BAGHDAD poses exclusive Iraqi architecture and surely offers simple yet ‘perfection in quality’ food at a great value. It was my first experience at this cuisine, and yet surprising, delicious & all worth trying something a little different! I would highly recommend this restaurant & appreciate their warm customer service too right from the moment we entered this bright & airy spot.
Arabian, Middle Eastern, Grill, BBQ, Iraqi, Kebab
15th Street, Beside Alluring Rose Beauty Center, Near The International School of Choueifat, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi