Emirati Café: Home of the steamed hamburger


The steamed hamburger is the main menu feature at 21 Café Emirati  in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Ayesha Alyaarbi)

By Ayesha Alyaarbi

ABU DHABI—Have you ever heard about steamed hamburgers? It is an interesting concept, right?

21 Emirati Café food truck sits just off a roundabout near ZU-Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Ayesha Alyaarbi)

I bet that if you did hear about it and knew that they are made somewhere in your city, you will immediately go and try it. And that’s what I did after I heard about 21 Emirati Café food truck that makes a healthy steamed burger. It is a food truck business that has been created by a young Emirati man named Omar Alhajeri. It is located in front of Zayed University, on the roundabout going toward Shakhbout City.

This business is based on making a healthy hamburger in a unique and different way, which is steaming it rather than frying it or flame-broiling it.

Let’s start with the first thing you ask for when you want to order food, the menu. Do you think it is possible for a restaurant not to have a menu? Yes it is and 21 Emirati Cafe does not have one. Therefore, everything about your experience at 21 Emirati Café is all about face-to-face interchange with Mr. Alharjeri’s staff.

When I asked for a menu, the waiter told me that he would tell me what the restaurant has. Right there I knew I had to make a commitment to the place. He said, “We have a very short menu that includes steamed beef or chicken sandwiches with french fries, you can add a cheese on it if you prefer to.”

I had no appetite for steamed chicken, so I chose the beef burger and cheese fries on the side. This meal cost me approximately Dh130, which is in the expensive range for a medium-size burger and fries. (Comparable to, say, SALT or Shake Shack.)

Steam burgers and cheese fries at 21 Emirati Café. (Photo by Ayesha Alyaarbi)

Let’s go deep and talk about the taste. To me, the burger was neither exceptionally good nor bad. There was nothing special about it, as 21 Emirati Café does not use any special sauces or extra ingredient. Rather, the special thing is that it is steamed. This changes the meat taste, from my point of view, and the fries were normal fries with a melted cheese slice on top of them.

To Emiratis, the hamburger is a very special type of food and with the increase in the number of burger restaurants in the country, it has to be really good to go viral because if people don’t like it, they won’t dare trying it again.

To me, I love trying new things. That’s why I encourage you to go give 21 Emirati Café food truck a try. It might be less an unusual way to make a burger, but I think you will find it quite delicious.

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