"Don't miss yummy camel burger" reads the Dubai
restaurant's sign, putting a Western twist on a traditional fare to entice
adventurous tourists into giving camel meat a chew.
Camel meat is
eaten throughout the Gulf, but Dubai's Local House restaurant targets
visitors who may never have bitten into this edible form of desert
" Most of our guests are tourists from
different parts of the world
"Most of our guests are
tourists from different parts of the world," says Ramesh, a
44-year-old Indian national who has managed the restaurant since it
opened in 2004. He says the restaurant was the brainchild of the
owner, a local from Dubai who grew up on camel meat and
"With this restaurant (the owner) wanted to (introduce)
that to the world as well. That's how it all started," said Ramesh,
who gave only one name.
Camels, sometimes called "ships of
the desert", are a big part of culture in the Arabian Peninsula. In
the United Arab Emirates, there are camel races, camel beauty
contests and competitions for the tastiest camel
Camel meat is cooked many ways and sometimes served
as a "shawarma" -- grilled meat wrapped in flat bread.
House prides itself on its novel burger, but the menu boasts an
extensive camel-based offering.
"We have... camel soup, camel
salad, then we have the camel burger, camel kebab, camel steak, then
we have camel biryani -- that is a mixture of rice and camel meat,"
says Ramesh, as he rattles off still more menu items.
restaurant also offers a camel curry dish, grilled camel ribs and
the camel special, which is cooked in oyster sauce. Camel sausage,
bacon and pizza are in the works, Ramesh says.
brand camel milk, milk chocolates and milkshakes made with camel
milk are some of the other offerings.
Local House customers
described their first taste of camel meat as
'I wanted something
" The most popular is the burger, and
(then) the camel special, then comes the steak "
"Excellent," says Anna, a
38-year-old Canadian who tried the camel soup after hearing about
the restaurant and happened upon it during her vacation to Dubai. "I
wanted something of the region, something unique," she
Alanen, a 60-year-old from Finland visiting Dubai with
his wife, described the camel burger as "good".
He tried it
because "my friends say that this place (is) the only place where we
can eat a camel burger."
Karine, 39, a French national living
in the UAE, says that she tried the camel biryani and the camel
special "because I lived here for four years now, and I thought it
would be interesting to know how a camel tastes."
nice," she says with a laugh. "The texture is like mutton, a bit...
without the strong taste of the mutton," but "it's a bit
Out of all the restaurant's camel-based offerings, the
camel burger is king.
"The most popular is the burger, and (then)
the camel special, then comes the steak," Ramesh says.
burger comes with onions, tomatoes, cheese, mayonnaise and ketchup,
sandwiched between two pieces of khameer, a thin, round bread topped
with sesame seeds.
The meat is similar in texture to beef,
but a bit tougher. It has a slightly smoky flavor with a tangy
aftertaste, but its taste is mostly obscured by the
ketchup-mayonnaise mix. Camel meat, Ramesh says, generally has a
The burger costs 35 dirhams (about nine
dollars), while other dishes range in price between 20 and 72
dirhams (about six and $20 ).
Local House, in the Bur Dubai
area, is housed in a drab-brown building that would be fairly
nondescript, were it not for the exterior decorations.
addition to the "yummy camel burger" sign, a poster shows a cartoon
Emirati man holding the reins of a camel that is clutching a burger
in its teeth.
There is currently only one branch of the
restaurant, but Ramesh says there are plans to expand to other
emirates in the UAE, and also to open a branch in Dubai's Burj
Khalifa, the world's tallest building.
Opening branches in
other Gulf countries is also a possibility, he