Back in my teenage years I interned at a Reggae recording studio. I fell in love with the Jamaican culture & food. I also happen to know quite a large vocabulary of Jamaican words (and music) thanks to that experience!
My family and I vacationed there 2 (or was it 3) times back in the 90’s and early 2000’s. One thing I did not get into though was dreading my hair (although I do regret not trying it at least once when I was young).
Every summer I get my fill on Jamaican eats when home in Canada, but never have I had any in Dubai! Nor did I know it existed! In my younger days, I remember lunch was ordered out nearly on a daily at the studio: rice n’ peas & jerk chicken. SO tasty!
This past weekend my family and I were invited to Ting Irie to experience their weekend “Fun’ch”. You know them Jamaican’s always have to put a spin on every word!
Ting Irie is situated in downtown Dubai inside the Al Manzil mall strip (near to Fume). You can’t miss it with all the fun reggae, ska and Jamaican heritage posters covering the windows. Upon entering the restaurant you feel that Jamaican vibe straight away. A mix of colorful hues, unique décor and of course a good dose of reggae playing in the background! The staff are 90% Jamaican which makes it even more authentic. Truth be told if it was staffed full with another ethnicity I most likely would have gone home. Sorry but I wanted that “real” Jamaican feel if I can’t be in Jamaica!
Ruby & Nate were so excited about going for Jamaican food. They were positively sure we were going to find Tony’s cousin working. Tony is our Canadian/Jamaican neighbor back in Toronto. His grandson Jayvon is one of Ruby & Nate’s best friends (she already mentioned that she may marry him when she is older). Here they are at his 7th birthday party this summer! Sadly, Tony’s cousin does not work at Ting Irie (duh!)
The restaurant area is not overly big, but they very cleverly used mirrors to give an illusion of a bigger space. We had a reserved table near the window area. The restaurant was almost full, so I would suggest making a reservation prior to heading down (PS. Fun’ch is from 1-4pm every Friday & Saturday).
Our waiter, brought us menu’s and took the kids order straight away. Ruby had chicken fingers with fries and Nate had cheesy chips. The chicken was a hit and they ended up splitting it. We then were each served a welcome drink. It was a fruit cocktail mix with ginger and some other spices. Nate enjoyed his; I was not feeling it. My husband and I ordered some mocktails since sadly alcohol is not served (NO idea why? Maybe they are waiting on a liquor license still?) You can’t have jerk without a Red Stripe or ie. Jamaican me Crazy cocktail! The mocktails were good, but a bit on the sweet side for me.
By this point Ruby and Nate wanted to explore the “Pickney” table (Pickney means child in Jamaican Patois) where two other children sat playing with putty, coloring and having their faces painted. This table was really nicely set up. It kept them occupied the entire duration of our “Fun’ch”. It may have helped that the other boy and girl sitting with them were very polite and played well with them too? This table is def for the 3 and over age bracket. There is no one to supervise it, and it’s an actual big table so not safe for the littles? I think? Before I forget, the cupcakes at the kids table were amazing. Lemon zest cake batter with cream cheese frosting! A must try (if you aren’t too full).
The face painting was not your traditional super-pro skills type, but more of a simplified Jamaican art style. A little heart with the words “love” on Ruby’s cheek (she later added a crown to her forehead) and a Pokemon ball (I think) with the word “ball” on Nate’s cheek. But the kids still liked it and made them feel special. Plus the lady doing it was very nice.
In fact ALL the staff was VERY nice. I asked one of the waiters if I could bring the kids their food to the “Pickney” table (where they chose to sit) and he quickly replied “YAH MON! Of course me lady”! This particular young man had cornrows and little beads dangling off the back of his braids. It made me smile, Jamaican’s are so friendly!
We then had a good look over the menu to determine what we were going to order now that the kids were out of our hair. This is not your typical brunch with a buffet to feast your eyes on. This is more of an “A La Carte”. So we were instructed to choose 3 different “Likkle tings” likkle=little , 2 “big plates” + 2 sides, 2 “sweet tings”. The price is 195 AED per adult. I know it is a bit steep considering it is a fixed menu but I CAN promise you that I left SO full I didn’t even eat dinner that night. I was almost in pain from that feeling of being so full. You know that feeling I’m talking about?
Our starters were SO good. Perhaps “small portions” (one starter sampler for each) but believe me, if I ate more of them I wouldn’t have enough room for the “biggies”. The way the food is presented, it’s really a way of sharing and enjoying family time. True Jamaican style! Jamaican patties are a normal snack a teenager may order from the cafeteria back home. It was so nice to sink my teeth into one! The burger (called Chips O’Mon) was one of my all-time favs I have had in Dubai! And the oxtail (pulled beef/pork style) was divine!
On to our mains! Of course it HAD to be jerk chicken. I grabbed a slice so quick and pulled back the crispy/flavored skin (the BEST part). It was just like I remembered it! It came accompanied with various sauces such as the “ting ting sauce” but I personally enjoyed it just the way it was! They should consider adding wings to their menu too. I love jerk chicken marinated wings! The other main we had was fried chicken. I would have ordered something else, but my husband likes that kind of greasy grub (not me). For sides it was imminent it would be rice n’ peas (peas actually means red kidney beans). I would be happy enough to eat that alone, I enjoy it so much! My husband wanted to try the plantain chips, which ended up being a favorite for the kids! Who every so often would leave the Pickney table to come nibble on something at our table.
At this point I was starting to feel overly FULL. We STILL had dessert to follow! Ugh! How was I going to manage? I hate wasting food…
The kids had rainbow cookies. So pretty!
My husband ordered the funnel cake, and I took our waiters advice and ordered the special butter cookies French toast. The carnival funnel cake (a very common sweet dish served back in Canada) was just as good as back home. The toast was on the “too sweet side” for me. I know…what’s happening to me, I am losing my sweet tooth with age!
Overall I must say the service was superb, the food was delicious and the atmosphere was fun! It would be even better if they had a liquor license! Let me clarify, I hardly drink, I swear! It just would be fun to hang out here sometime in the near future without the kids. Ie. date night, with fantastic food, music and…drinks! Like I said earlier, perhaps a bit pricey but then again it is Dubai…It is a laid back style of brunch without all the frills + bells & whistles.
Good food and good company to share your food with.
That’s all you need for a memorable brunch anyway isn’t it?
04 557 5601