Posted on June 5, 2013

“I don’t know what to eat”. This is a conversation I’m constantly having with myself when I’m staring at the hundreds of takeaway menus I have.

There are an abundance of great restaurants in Dubai, so why is it sometimes hard to decide what to have for a quick bite? Because, in contrast to those quality restaurants, there are scarce places where you can get good, QUICK, food.

That precious lunch hour of yours is fleeting in the day. A day filled with stuffy slow elevator rides, parking spot hunting, meetings about meeting, sharing roads with nutjob drivers etc. It’s that one chance you get at a semblance of “me time”. Our dignity slips in between the keyboards with the crumbs from the crummy desk-lunch sandwich. This is the time which is supposed to be our breather, to gossip with friends (and a cheeky bit of facebooking). I speak from experience – having worked in an office in my past life, the most common thing when noon struck was, everyone would look at each other “….guys where shall we go today?”, one would look to the other, waiting for someone to break, “….supermarket?’ then everyone shrugs and sighs ‘yeah ok’.

So why is it, when it comes to that time-honoured tradition we call lunch, that we are not privy to the same choices, the same quality as normal restaurants. Is it so hard to find something quick which is also tasty? Most people just tend to settle for what is there – either because this is the benchmark and we don’t know better, or lunch is so time constrained.

But look at the UK or US, in the last few years they have witnessed a boom in food trucks and high quality quick food – there are now sub-categories for them such as ‘Fast Casual’ or ‘Gourmet Fast Food’. This is a projection of changing consumer habits. Yes people still work hard there, lunch time is scarce, but they want more bang for their buck: ‘I deserve better’. In Dubai, synonymous with 5 star, quality of life, it’s amazing to think how few places the working person has to go to get something quick to eat, and which is actually full of goodness, so you don’t feel you’ve gorged on preservatives and emulsifiers.

Some of this complacency starts with the upmarket coffee chains. Think about it, when was the last time you went into a coffee shop specifically for a food which was as good as one of your favourite dining establishments? Coffee houses exist because they wanted to sell high quality coffee. When you go in for your latte, you are paying for premium stuff. And then they go and sell such mediocre food – even indulgent things like muffins do not taste spectacular. There is no incentive for them to give food the same quality attention as the coffee; it’s not their specialist area, it comes from a supplier, and besides, most of their business comes from the coffee. But if you choose a lifestyle (which is essentially what a coffee house is), you have a duty to give the best of everything to your customer. So it boggles my mind that people willingly paying 15Dhs for superior coffee have to settle for those tasteless wraps and heavy panini sandwiches.

This is slowly starting to change now. Sure food trucks are not allowed here, but that consumer mentality is starting to seep in, as the savvy amongst us demand organic produce, bring in lunch from home etc. Look around carefully at the words creeping into the food lexicon here: gourmet, natural, home-made, fresh etc. It’s a reflection of our demand for quality, that we don’t all always want to settle for “same old”, that we, in moving here to enrich our lives, deserve better. We, at Moti Roti, along with the recent crop of similar takeaways, would like to think we’re part of this movement to save people from mediocre food 🙂

Those of you lucky to enjoy, real, home made food whilst growing up, how often do you get to enjoy it now? Do you miss it? I certainly do! This is what Moti Roti has been essentially, an exercise in showing that it can be done, we can emulate home cooking as closely as possible without having to turn to mass produce shite – we want to keep a strict no-crap-in-the-wrap policy!

You see, not everyone can come to my mum’s house to eat, right? So the best thing we can do is bring her food to everyone 🙂

So this is really a cry – a rally for good, honest, tasty food, that you don’t have to sit down and wait 15 minutes for, that you don’t have to have a committee with your friends to decide lunch, that you don’t have to go downstairs and eat that sub-standard sandwich. And food that, for once, can be GOOD, FOR, YOU.

That one hour in the day is your time to treat yourself. So grab, go, find a place to sit (preferably mine), find a buddy, and just enjoy.

Roti Is Coming.