Pars Iranian Restaurant, Dubai, UAE Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Pars Iranian Restaurant, Dubai, UAE

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Pars is located just beyond the end of Dyafah Street, in an area of Dubai known as Sattwa. Despite having a large neon sign which declares the restaurant's name, it is not easy to spot due to being separated from the main road by a grassy knoll, a sand car-park and a row of palm trees. However, its neighbour, the Rydges Hotel, is easy to spot and if you walk down the alleyway to the right of the hotel you will quickly come across Pars on your left1. Rydges has some very pleasant bars if you want to go for a few drinks after you visit Pars. 'Aussie Legends' is on the ground floor and is a good all-rounder. 'Billy Blues' on the eighth floor has a brilliant atmosphere but from time to time you will not be served there unless you eat. Billy Blues is very unpredictable on this point. As a tourist, the best way to get to Rydges would be to hop in a cab and ask the driver to take you there.

Pars exists almost entirely outdoors. The seating area consists of several wrought-iron tables and chairs situated around a small fountain. It resembles a café more than a restaurant and appears considerably less tacky since the broken, plastic tables and chairs were replaced and the coloured Christmas tree lights were removed. It has recently been taken over by new management and now looks far more classy.

The Food

The food is also cooked outdoors, over a large metal contraption that is best described as an industrial-sized barbecue filled with hot coals. This contraption has a roof with a large funnel, out of which constantly pours billowing grey smoke. This smoke is visible from quite a distance and will help you to find Pars should you get lost.

The food cooked on this incredible beast of a machine is mostly made up of traditional Iranian dishes. One of their most popular meals is the Iranian kebab and this costs 17 dirhams2. For this you get two large portions of very tender and succulent lamb on sticks. Surrounding the meat on the plate is a large heap of rice (you can have chips instead if you prefer) and a few little side items such as tomatoes, pickle, half a lime and chilies. However, this is not all that you receive for your 17 dirhams. You will also be served a plate of mint leaves, which go surprisingly well with the meal and also help to soak up alcohol if you intend to go drinking in one of the nearby bars afterwards. Along with this are two to four small sticks of goats cheese, which is very much like cottage cheese and tastes wonderful. Add to that a bowl of warm Arabic bread, which will be replenished for free at your request, and you have quite an amazing meal at a very reasonable price. This is just one of the tempting dishes that the courteous and helpful staff will be glad to serve up for you, and there are even more elaborate meals on the menu.

The Sheesha

Pars Iranian Restaurant would be nothing without its sheesha3. Sheesha is a special type of Arabian tobacco which is quite potent and is mixed in with what can only be described as mashed fruit. This helps to give sheesha its unique flavour. It is smoked through a device imaginatively called a 'sheesha machine', which is very much akin to a bong. However, there are differences. The smoker will place a long, flexible pipe attached to the machine into their mouth and suck hard. This drags the smoke from the burning tobacco out of the top of the device and through a lower compartment, which is filled with rose water4. This helps to purify the smoke and means that you don't even feel it entering your lungs. After a few seconds your lungs will start to tingle and unless you exhale quickly you will end up snorting masses of smoke through every orifice for the next five minutes. It is possible to fill your lungs completely from a single drag of sheesha and when you exhale the sheer amount of smoke produced is astonishing. There is nobody who will not feel at least slightly relaxed after a single drag. The sheesha comes in a variety of strengths and flavours, which you may want to ask the staff about.

If you order sheesha at Pars it will cost you 10 dirhams5 per machine and this will last for the duration of your time there, although the burning coals on top of the sheesha machine will have to be replaced every 20 to 30 minutes. It is not advisable to smoke sheesha during your meal, only before and after, as after a while your table will be surrounded by a thin cloud of white smoke which can be unpleasant while eating.

The People

The people who visit Pars are extremely varied. It is generally frequented by local Arabs, guests from nearby hotels who want to sample traditional Arabian food and students from the city's secondary schools. For some reason, it is very rare to see an adult ex-patriot in Pars. Pars tends to be at its busiest during the late evening but is also open during the day. It has a pleasant atmosphere but due to the prevalent smoke from the sheesha and the industrial-size barbecue it is probably not suitable for people with asthma or anything of that sort. Some parents may also be sensitive about their children being exposed to the smoky environment but it is quite common to see children at Pars having a meal with their parents. One of the good things about Pars is that everyone is welcome.

The Utilities (gulp!)

One last aspect of Pars Iranian Restaurant should probably be mentioned before ending this entry, and that is the toilet facilities. They are not entirely wonderful. Although they are tiled and probably fairly clean, there are no locks on the doors and the male and female toilets are only separated by a metal partition. Mud-streaked floors and a lack of toilet paper can also be expected from time to time. However, Pars is an excellent place with a lot of character and as long as you either visit the lavatory before you go or don't mind slightly sub-standard toilet facilities then you should have a wonderful experience.

1When I say 'to the right of the hotel' I am assuming that you will be facing it.2At the time of writing, 17 dirhams is approximately equal to US$5 and 60 cents or UK£2.80.3Sheesha is sometimes known and referred to as 'hubbly-bubbly', mostly by tourists.4Rose water is almost exactly like ordinary water, except that it is scented/flavoured with roses. You would not want to drink it.510 dirhams is approximately equal to US$3 and 30 cents or £1.65 pence.

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