One of my many complaints when I first settled in (for?) Dubai was that, with the rare exception during National Day or Food week, there weren’t really any food trucks, stalls or kiosks around town. Ya, you could schlep to Karama for the odd hole in the wall (albeit tasty and cheap) shoddy lean-to serving curries and samosas, but apart from that, there wasn’t much. (*one wonderful exception is Yalla Momo near Burjuman… dang, them’s some good momos coming out of that phone booth!).
Dubai has always had very tight restrictions on mobile food, and permits were rare and hard to come by. Last year, however, things changed. Permits started being approved, and trucks started rolling (good old Dubai; something is banned until hip, then flogged till it’s redundant). This year’s events (art weeks, food weeks, district launches, etc) have been improved by a plethora of new mobile or “pop-up” (god! i hate that term! can we all just stop saying it, please. i suggest we replace it with “abrupt” or “precipitous” or “hey, where’d that come from?”) culinary offerings.
The trucks and vans are not the only wonderful additions to the food scene, as stalls and stands from local restaurants have also been popping up… er, I mean… abrupting up- (sigh…ok, fine. I’ll use it…) popping up evenings and weekends for special events and at park days (Ripe Market at Zabeel the most notable). While there are only a few trucks that currently have permits to roam the city freely (you can find some of these at kite beach, sunset beach, and sometimes downtown) , as most trucks and “abrupt-ups” (hehe) only get permits for events, it won’t be much longer until we see a regular fleet of unique cuisines rolling up and down the roads of streets. In this city, if something is popular, it finds a way to happen… Eventually.