Usually my family and I have a light Iftar, and then break for about an hour and a half until we have dinner. However last night my kids had play dates, my wife had a gathering to go to, so they had to rush off right after the dates, laban, and soup. I was left alone, and slightly hurt, to fend for myself.

In the very rare experience of calm in my house I sat down to enjoy my first espresso of the evening and opened up Instagram to a picture that showed nothing but a bright glowing sign that said “SALT”. Salt being the UAE based food truck that has been creating a buzz throughout the UAE, especially on social media.

Not having tried it yet I flicked through a few pictures on their personal Instagram account @FindSalt, the burgers looked delicious, and the milk shakes looked like they could cool anyone off during the scorching UAE Summer. A bunch of celebrities seemed to endorse it too, not that is a statement of how good the food is, but definitely something that would spark ones curiosity, so I got dressed, hopped in the car, and made my way to Mushrif Central Park.

On my way to Salt I was excited, it had been a while since I tried something new, kind of like that excitement I had when my mom took me to McDonalds for this first time when in opened in the UAE. There had been so much hype about these Burgers from a truck, hype I hadn’t seen about any other food company that opened in the UAE.

Every trend had come and gone, frozen yogurt, cup cakes, but even when it seemed like we had every burger joint the world had to offer in the UAE Salt was able to create an impact greater than all of them combined, at least from a marketing and social media standpoint.

So I arrive at Mushrif Park at around 11pm, the bright Salt light shined brightly at the end of the front entrance parking lot. There weren’t many cars or people (around 7 customers ahead of me) around so I was able to order pretty fast. After a few recommendations from Snapchatters, I ordered the regular burger with fries and a Lotus Shake.

Someone had actually told me to order their chicken Doritos burger, but I felt that a simple burger, their classic, would give me the best all round feel for the restaurant and the quality of their food. Here are my thoughts.

What I didn’t like:

The price

I ordered two regular burgers, regular fries, and two lotus shakes. Ok you can calm down now it wasn’t all for me I had a friend joining. When the cashier said the price I had to ask her to repeat it again out of minor shock, the bill was 132 dirhams. I must admit it felt pretty expensive, especially when I saw how small the burgers were, you actually get two mini burgers rather than one large burger. I just felt they could have offered us more value for our money, but it is what it is. If you are curious I did a little research and here are the prices for similar orders at other burger joints around the UAE:

  • AED 121 at Elevation Burger
  • AED 116 at Shake Shack
  • AED 115 at Burger Fuel
  • AED 109 at The Counter
  • AED 99 at Fat Burger

The Fries

If you are anything like me whenever I get my burger meal I usually have a French fry when I sit down before I unwrap my burger, and the story didn’t start well. I am just going to be honest here, the fries were bad, and I won’t be ordering them on my next visit. They are thin fries that are served in a paper pot; they had hardly any flavor or crisp, and felt somewhat stale. I had to use a lot of ketchup to get through it. There is a major opportunity here for improvement on both flavor and quality, where they can offer a range of fries, with different toppings (currently only offer fire fries at double the price of regular). (Score 5/10)

What I liked:

The Burger

The burger tasted good, the wagyu meat quality was pretty high so I was impressed with the juiciness and texture of the meat. The bun was fresh and soft which held the burger very well, there was little to no slippage, which always brings a smile to my face. Having said that it was your average burger, meat patty, cheese, pickles, and a sauce I couldn’t quite put my finger but tasted good.

It reminded me a lot of Shake Shack in terms of look and display, and in some ways tasted pretty similar also. What I didn’t like though was how small they were given the price I had paid; they are almost like sliders just a fraction bigger. I definitely feel they could have given us a little bit more for our money. All in all it was good but I have certainly had better. (Score 7/10)

The Lotus Shake

This was by far the highlight of my evening. Given the sweltering heat I ordered a lotus milkshake to be brought after I had finished my food. The milkshake is based on the lotus biscuit, which took me back to childhood memories of visiting my grandmother and trying to steal the biscuits from the side of her teacup. It was delicious, not too sweet, but just sweet enough. For some reason I thought it tasted a bit like peanut butter in the beginning.

The texture was smooth and came through the straw with extreme ease, versus the battle I have with a Baskin Robbins milkshake when caramel gets stuck in the middle of the straw. At the end you get a mix of biscuit bits and caramel topping that had dropped to the bottom of the cup that I just didn’t want to end. It was innovative, and a breath of fresh air to the milk shake line we are so used to in this part of the world. (Score 10/10)

The Culture

This is what I love most about Salt, they are doing something important, and that’s being different, creative, and bringing the people of the UAE a food truck culture that is all very new to us. The amount of young people hanging out, talking, and enjoying their food was really a joy to see, and a welcome alternative to walking around a mall for hours. It had a sense of energy that was a breath of fresh air for the Abu Dhabi community; it was hip, and welcoming.

The only thing I would recommend is to use that platform they have created for even more good. When you have that many young people in the same place at the same time you can use that opportunity to offer more than just food such as workshops, talks in partnership with various authorities to speak about important messages, and meet and greets to spread that culture of innovation and creativity that Salt so clearly have. (Score 9/10)

Overall it was a pretty awesome experience. I think Salt have done a remarkable job at building a new concept and marketing themselves like no other restaurant I have seen. The Food is tasty, and their shakes are to die for. However like every restaurant they are going to have areas of improvement, but I believe they are going to grow stronger, and more delicious through those improvements. Good luck Salt, may your queues always be long, and your sign always shine bright.