Master Chef winner Mehmet Cubuk’s Bistro Jumeirah offers unique dishes from Turkish cuisine
The mouth-watering aroma of lamb skewers and charcoal-grilled chicken wafts around you as you enter the newly opened Sirdanci Mehmet restaurant in Dubai.
But it’s not until you savor the gastronomic delights on offer that you realize you’ve discovered a hidden gem in the heart of Jumeirah.
This eclectic restaurant may be small in size, but it’s certainly packed with flavor.
The restaurant is a venture of famous Turkish chef Mehmet Cubuk, affectionately known as Sirdanci Mehmet.
Winner of the coveted title of Master Chef Turkyie, Mehmet is famous for his culinary acumen as well as his playful attitude. So don’t be surprised if he suddenly sneaks up on you and pretends to splash your food with hand-squeezed lemon juice.
Videos of his pranks have already gone viral on social media. So much so that many diners look forward to experiencing it first hand as they enjoy their meal.
“What’s good food without a touch of fun,” Mehmet says with a wink.
The road to fame, however, was anything but fun for the affable restaurateur.
“There were challenges at every step of the process,” says Mehmet. “I started out in the food and beverage industry as a sweeper, but persevered. My hard work paid off. I was promoted to foot boy, then server.”
Mehmet said he discovered his true calling when he walked into the kitchen to take his first order as a waiter.
“The vibe and vibe of the place suddenly filled me with a sense of upliftment and gave me a new purpose in life,” he recalls.
“I said to myself, this is where I belong. I immediately took an apprenticeship in the kitchen and I became a chef.”
More glory awaited him when he won the title of Master Chef.
Before long, he launched his own restaurant in the Fatih district of Istanbul. Mehmet said his signature restaurant in Dubai is the brand’s 10th branch and one of the closest to his heart.
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The restaurant has an infectious and warm atmosphere, and the interiors are a rich riot of photographs showing Mehmet posing with celebrity guests.
The prices are surprisingly low and the portions are generously large.
“I want to raise the bar for Ottoman cuisine in Dubai by bringing good, affordable Turkish cuisine to the city. I have recreated here the same dishes that have won over legions of loyal customers in Turkey. All of these recipes are original, which that’s why you won’t find this taste anywhere else,” he says.
The allegation was not without merit. The juicy skewers and tender roasted lamb meat had us salivating in no time. Another equally delicious, albeit crude, dish is mumbar, which is basically mutton intestine, stuffed with rice and meat.
The piece de resistance, of course, was Şırdan, a unique Adana specialty made with stuffed lamb stomach. It tasted good but, like mumbar, was hard to digest because of its appearance.
“Sirdan is a well-honed art for us, and we make the best of it,” says Mehmet who claims the dish speeds up metabolism and is more nutritious than meat. “I want to popularize Sirdan all over the world,” says Mehmet.
Businessman Musa Omar Chaudhry, who partnered with Mehmet, said he plans to branch out into Abu Dhabi and Sharjah soon. Mehmet said he was optimistic about their expansion plan.
“We will do very well,” he said. “I have a feeling.”
Or: Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqqueim 2
Meal for two: 100 MAD
Must try: Adana kebab (70 Dh); Mixed grills (Dh150); Sirdan or lamb stomach (Dh30); Mumbar or lamb casing (Dh60)