What does it take to win The Best Restaurant in Middle East & North Africa 2022? Co-founder of 3 Fils, Ahmed Abulhakim shares his secrets.
“My guests often tell me they can smell the restaurant from down the path before they enter,” says Ahmed Abulhakim, co-founder of 3 Fils restaurant at Jumeirah’s Fishing Harbour.
“They come in and ask what it is that smells delicious. I invite them to enjoy the view and try our dishes. The best tables in the house are always by the water!”
It is not just the scent of good food announcing this Dubai restaurant before it is seen, it is also the location. Surrounded by bobbing boats docked in the harbour, this small, unflashy, bolthole can be found in an old fishermen’s building.
“I love this place,” says Ahmed. “It’s a real working harbour rich in history. The sea became our inspiration when designing the interiors of the restaurant.”
3 Fils opened in 2016 and was the brainchild of three friends who saw a gap in the market.
“We wanted somewhere that was casual dining, first come-first serve, no bookings, no dress code. We wanted to be fuss-free whilst offering standout food.”
The name 3 Fils was meant to be a play on the three original owners each giving their “two cents’ worth”.
Six years on and 3 Fils was recently crowned winner at the MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants award ceremony held in Abu Dhabi, beating some of the world ’s most prestigious restaurants.
Part of the acclaimed World ’s 50 Best organisation, the list reflects the best restaurant experiences of 250 anonymous voters.
“Winning this award means so much,” says Ahmed. “It’s an achievement for the entire team and Dubai. The MENA region has an amazing and diverse culinary heritage and offers brilliant choice in cuisine.
”Described as a casual contemporary restaurant, 3 Fils serves a Japanese-inspired menu. Fresh fish is flown in from Japan (come on Wednesdays for the specials) but they are also proud to source local ingredients.
Success, Ahmed says, is based on simplicity, quality and offering a complete guest experience.
“You don’t come to a place just because you’re hungry. For us, it starts with the journey here; it’s the salty smell of the sea, the intimate setting, the love of good food. It’s all part of the adventure. Guest experience is what motivates us.
”It’s a responsibility that Ahmed takes seriously. “Food is more than just sustenance; food is family and friends. Some of our regular guests have shared so much with us; their first date, their marriage proposal, their babies! We’ve even fitted a wedding party in here. We are part of their story, and they are part of ours.”
The à la carte menu offers tempting signature dishes and sharing plates. Try the kampachi tataki (yellowtail tuna with tamari and yuzu), spicy beef tartare, Fremantle octopus with gremolata or 72-hour lamb ribs. For something special, the Sakura Ebi (shrimp pasta) uses handmade lobster oil that takes days to make.
Finish off with the African powerhouse (chocolate tart with sea salt) and karak ice cream.
The food is superb (tip: arrive early, queues for a table can reach over 90 minutes). You can stand by the counter to eat, grab a seat by the window overlooking the harbour, or sit outside on the terrace watching the waves. It all adds to the taste.
3 Fils is located at Shop 02, Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, 1 Al Urouba Street, Dubai, UAE. Call 04 333 4003 or email [email protected]. For more information visit 3fils.com