A fine-dining eatery with a butchery on its premises is our kind of restaurant.
The locale: Set in Souk Al Bahar, it’s located right next to Dubai Mall. You’ll have an unhindered view of the dancing fountains if you manage to get a seat in the al fresco dining area, like we did.
The setting: When you enter the restaurant from the Souk side, you’ll catch a glimpse of the full-length glass windows behind which are skinned, lean carcasses of lamb and beef shanks, hooked and drying in all their raw glory. The décor of the restaurant is unfussy, and the lighting kept bright to keep up with the lights of the mall that envelope the restaurant.
Claim-to-fame: Meat. Lots of it and of very high quality. Günaydin positions itself as a meatery and as you’ll discover through your meal, lives up to its billing. All the meats here come from the restaurant’s own farm in Turkey.
In the kitchen: Chef Cünyet Asan is the co-founder of the restaurant and is an industry veteran. The open-kitchen here allows you to watch as his team masterfully slice and sear your cuts.
Service: The waitstaff are trained to make recommendations, as well as explain the ingredients of every dish. They’re helpful enough to pick up a lemon and squeeze it on the meat on your plate, when required, without being summoned.
Small-bites: The cold mezzes are a good start to the meal. The classic hummus is a fail-safe option, while you’d do well to try the Muhamarra – a spicy tomato paste with breadcrumbs mixed into it – that’s got crunch thanks to the walnuts in it. For salads, try the house special Gavurdagi Salatasi – a straightforward Anatolian salad that comprises of diced tomatoes and onions, seasoned with herbs and mint.
Mains: Start with the Lahmacun, a staple of Turkish cuisine. Here, the thin pizza-style bread is topped with finely ground lamb meat. The magic is that Günaydin doesn’t toss its meat into grinders – all its meats are ground by hand. Next up, Adana Kebap made using the meat from around the rib of the lamb. While it might look greasy on the plate, it’s nothing like that the moment it hits your palate and glides through all the way to the back without leaving a residue on it. Don’t worry about biting the meat – it’ll quite literally melt on your palate in a few seconds.
Ditto for Shashlik that came next and made from tenderloin. If you’ve got an appetite for even more meat, you wouldn’t want to pass up the Döner shawarma that involves impossibly thin slices of meat that can be tucked into wafer-thin strips of flat bread.
Sweet ending: Don’t leave the table without ordering a portion of Künefe. The tooth-decaying sugary dessert has a generous layer of melted cheese packed in between the semolina dough that’s topped with crushed pistachio. Divine.
Verdict: The meats here are as good as you’ll get them if you were to travel to the Bosphorus. What gives this meal a leg-up over other restaurants is that once you’re done, you can visit the butchery on the same premises and buy the raw meats that were used in your meal and take a crack at cooking up some fine Anatolian fare at home.