Israeli Chef to Open Restaurant in Dubai: ‘There’s No Better Bridge Than Food’

For Eyal Shani, opening a restaurant in Dubai is both ‘a big honor’ and an important mission. ‘When there is food between people, there is no war and fighting between them’

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Israeli chef Eyal Shani.
Israeli chef Eyal Shani.Credit: Ilya Melnikov

Israeli chef Eyal Shani will open a new restaurant later this month in the UAE – his first in the Middle East outside of Israel.

Shani’s restaurant, North Miznon, is slated to open in Dubai sometime in December. When opened, the restaurant will be the latest link between Israel and the United Arab Emirates following the Abraham Accords signed between the countries two years ago.

Speaking with Bloomberg, Shani says he sees food as a uniting force. “There’s no better bridge than food, because food is making a promise. What is the promise? It’s very simple. You will sit with me and eat with me, and we shall understand each other.”

Shani hears warnings that he won’t get Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian customers, but says he thinks they will eat at his Dubai restaurant because he sees them in his restaurants in Israel.

According to Shani, he came to Dubai because a local partner made it worth his while, but he sees great meaning in the expansion in the region. “It’s a big honor, and for me it’s a big mission,” he says. “I know one thing: that when there is food between people, there is no war and fighting between them. So for me, it’s my own act of making peace between me and my neighbors around me.”

One of Shani's restaurants in New York.Credit: Haim Handwerker

Over the past 15 years, Shani and his business partner have opened some of the trendiest restaurants in Tel Aviv, including Port Said, HaSalon and North Abraxas. Most aren’t kosher, like the soon-to-be opened North Miznon, though some are. They also opened venues in such cities as New York, Miami, London, Singapore and Melbourne. A Miznon – his street food restaurant – will open in the Palazzo at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas in December.

“We have something like almost 50 restaurants,” he says. “We are not counting. We’re afraid to count it, because then you don't know how you can manage it.”

Shani says the Dubai menu will be heavily influenced by regional vegetables, fish and flavors, including those from India and Iran. In an interview, he raved about a scouting trip he took to Dubai. “I never saw such a huge amount – and such a big variety – of fish and freshness as I saw there,” he says. “Of course, I’m going to make the most beautiful seafood platter.”

He’ll also make a crab shawarma “floating in tomato clouds,” hummus with shrimp and butter, and the thinnest lasagna you’ve ever seen. And there will be a dish with Indian bread “that it looks like it’s made out of thousands of napkins that are floating, one on top of each other.”



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