A couple of weeks back, I got to indulge into another lavish Iftar buffet, this time at Liwan restaurant in Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana. I was actually invited to the Iftar night for bloggers and media, but it's a weekday and my schedule didn't permit. Good thing Ferry was able to arrange a night for Mark, Cherry, and I on the following weekend.
Liwan is an all day dining restaurant situated at the third floor of this 5-star hotel, which exudes an authentic Arabic vibe and Ramadan spirit with its traditional majlis tent, camels, and Arabic lanterns and kettles.
Ramadan drinks like Jallab, rose water, and tamarind juice; Iftar staples like dates, nuts, and dried fruits; and Arabic spices welcomed us as we were ushered to our seats.
We got to the restaurant earlier than Iftar time which gave us the luxury to check the buffet spread out. Besides Radisson Blu's Iftar spread which caters to different races with its international buffet, it's unusual for traditional Iftars (well the ones that I've been to at least) to include Japanese dishes, but we definitely didn't mind having them on the buffet spread, especially for Mark who had his eyes glowing like a little kid's when he saw this part of the buffet. :p
The main courses revolved around Arabic and Indian cuisines, with shawarma station, and flame grilled and live cooking stations.
Not to be missed are the Chicken Biryani, Indian and Arabic breads, and the star of every Iftar, the Lamb Ouzi!
At the far end of the restaurant is the artisan breads station and the desserts station with a selection of Arabic and international desserts.
As I mentioned earlier, the Arabic vibe is very evident especially with stations adorned by Arabic cloths, camels, dainty glasses, and Arabic lanterns and kettles. They're all over the place! :D
We knew it was already time for Iftar when live Arabian music started to fill the air. I think I was too busy with my Iftar plate that I didn't catch how the instrument at the center was played. Nevertheless, the festive rhythm definitely made our feast a more enjoyable one.
Mark dragged me to the Japanese station the moment Iftar time began. While our Muslim brothers usually break their fast with dates, we broke ours with these delectable rolls. Liwan's version is by far the best tasting among the ones that I've tried, and my sushi-lover Lover couldn't agree more. And yup, we just had to have separate plates because when it comes to sushi, sharing is an obsolete word! Haha! :D
My Sushi Plate
I also helped myself to some salads. The tuna pesto pasta and beef noodle salads were okay, and yeah, though I know that pasta salads should be served cold, I still prefer them warm. There's nothing to rave about the coleslaw, though I loved how fresh the veggies were because of that crunch. The kani salad was what stood out from my salad plate. There was a play of texture from the shredded crab, rice noodles, and spring onions, and I love how the sesame seeds added that nutty flavor.
I already knew that diners will be lining along the lamb ouzi station so this was what I first planned to fill my Iftar plate with. And suffice to say, a pile of hungry diners were already there when I arrived, so I went to the Indian station first.
I've been craving for shawarma and was delighted seeing it in the buffet spread, so I made sure to include it in my Iftar plate. I also had chicken tikka which was tender and was mildly spicy, with roasted potatoes, and some steamed veggies. I then went back and braved the queue to the lamb ouzi. I was ecstatic when I finally reached the humongous chafing dish filled with succulent lamb and savory rice. I dug into the rice and had a slice of the tender lamb the moment I was seated, and I just couldn't help but feel accomplished. It was definitely worth the wait! :D
I would have wanted to try the Chicken Biryani, but Mark talked me out of the idea as it was a bit too spicy for his liking and he knew that my palates couldn't tolerate that.
I was also keen about my sugar intake, so even if it was heart-breaking for me to just pass by and ignore the desserts station, I just had to settle with a healthier and less sweeter version with these fruity smoothies and fresh fruits.
And then Mark came back with his dessert plate. Talk about being tortured! As if it wasn't already bad that he even got two servings of each dessert! :|
I guess my "puppy eyes" worked that he let me have one whole piece of that chocolate ball with red chocolate drizzle. Ha! :p I immediately dunked it into my mouth, thinking that he might change his mind, and a decadent gooey chocolate oozed out as the dark chocolate shattered. Aaaahh! I just died and went to chocolate heaven!
Just when I thought that he had enough, this sweet tooth got back with another dessert plate. I sneaked and got that chocolate ball again. It's that good I just couldn't resist. Haha! I was begging for him to allow me to have one more piece, but he never obliged.
I think he saw how delighted I was with having been lured into the sweetness, that he allowed me to try the rest of the desserts. Yay! But he was still strict and made sure to give me a teeny weeny portion of each. Well, I guess that's good enough than none. :p
I loved the baklava and mango moose, as well as that dark square dessert there. The square desserts were Turkish delights, and those balls had dates as its base and covered with some nuts, sesame seeds, and desiccated coconut. The yellow balls there, if my palates served me right, were Gulab Jamun.
Two guys with carts roam around the restaurant as they hand out cups of Moroccan tea and Arabic coffee to the diners. We obliged as both were a perfect pair for our desserts. While Mark raved about the strong kick of the Arabic coffee, I fell in love with the refreshing minty and mildly sweet Moroccan tea. Oh, and that pink dainty glass was just too cute! :D
Moroccan Tea and Arabic Coffee
Aside from the sumptuous feast, the spirit of togetherness was also captured in the Ramadan Photo Booth which is set up near the entrance of the restaurant. Aside from that, guests can automatically upload the snaps in social media and have the chance to win awesome prizes. :D
Among the Iftars that I've been too, although the spread was not as extensive, I must say that Liwan has by far completely captured the Arabic vibe and Ramadan spirit from the food and drinks to the entertainment and the overall ambience.
Cherry, Mark, and I
Thank you for having us! :)
Iftar at Liwan is priced at 149.00 AED per person, a reasonable price I must say. Aside from having to share a sumptuous feast with family and friends over an inviting ambience, awesome prizes also await diners with the hotel's Ramadan offerings:
So if you're looking for a place for your nightly Iftar this Ramadan, make sure to include Iftar at Liwan in Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana in your list!
For updates about Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana, you can visit and like them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AlGhurairRayhaanandArjaanbyRotana, or follow them on Instagram: @alghurairrotana. You can also visit their website at www.rotana.com/rayhaanhotelandresorts/unitedarabemirates/dubai/alghurairrayhaanbyrotana
IFTAR at LIWAN All Day Dining
Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana
Deira, Dubai, U.A.E.
Contact # 04 293 3000
Nearest Metro Station: Union (Green Line connecting to Red Line)
We were guests at Liwan in Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana and our meal was complimentary, but as always, this post is sincerely written and all views and opinions are my own.