A flair for presentation and XXXL portions take centre stage at this new Turkish spot in Downtown Dubai.
For the uninitiated CZN Burak is a social media sensation who has gained unprecedented popularity in recent years for his cheeky grin, XXXL food portions, and a dining experience representing the very definition of dinner and a show. Having opened six restaurants in his native Turkey, chef Burak opened his first international reactant on 25 December 2020 in Dubai.
First things first, if you plan on visiting CZN Burak Dubai then be prepared to queue. The restaurant is extremely popular and does not accept reservations so arrive early or for lunch to save yourself the long lines that currently snaked their way down The Boulevard each evening. Having amassed over 32 million followers on TikTok, it would seem that everyone in Dubai wants to get a glimpse of Chef Burak and his tableside theatrics.
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Much like the portions, the restaurant space itself is gigantic, encompassing numerous dining rooms an expansive terrace with stunning Burj Khalifa and over 200 employees. The impressive operation is somehow dwarfed by the space’s Ottoman-style grandeur, featuring elegant furniture in white, orange and green colours. The marble floor adds a luminous effect to the softly lit open room, which helps to create an Arabian nights’ style setting. With capacity for 1,200 diners, CZN Burak is the biggest restaurant in Downtown Dubai!
Luckily we manage to secure a seat on the terrace which offers impressive Burj Khalifa views that almost manages to distract us from the hub of activity on the restaurant floor. Trolleys whizz past laden with food, while shows involving shooting flames and oversized dishes wow each table in turn.
The menu at CZN Burak offers a plethora of Turkish dishes that include soups, salads, mezze, cold and hot appetisers and those enormous main courses that have been designed with sharing in mind. We begin tentatively with a simple hummus with pine nuts (AED 42) and dried eggplant dolma (AED 32). The hummus is served warm, creating a crust over the smooth chickpea mixture while the pine nuts add an appealing textural contrast. Still, we preferred the eggplant dish in which the vegetable is generously stuffed with rice and parsley and slathered in lemon and pomegranate molasses.
A handy key upon the menu indicates which of the main courses and casserole dishes involve theatrics and it is for this reason, we cannot resist the salted roasted lamb shoulder (AED 390). Presented tableside upon a trolley, the meat is encased in a salt layer which is ignited to raucous rounds of applause from the assembled diners. The salt is then broken off and flung and flipped with such confident showmanship to create trails of fire, similar to those seen in cocktail mixology. The resulting dish is more than enough food for four people to share and comprises of chunks of tender lamb shoulder that falls off the bone with a mere touch of the fork. The meat is presented upon a bed of aromatic basmati rice scattered with almonds, pine nuts, carrot and onion.
Eating at CZN Burak transpires to be somewhat of a communal dining experience, with each table stopping to marvel as the reveal of each dish is performed and the show commences. Service is somewhat fuss-free, but we supposed that it is expected given the sheer volume of customers.
We end our dining experience with CZN Burak’s famous cheese kunafa (AED 55) and carrot slice baklava (AED 65). Two delightfully sweet dishes that continue the trend of generous portions that we’d learned to embrace throughout the meal.
Dining at CZN Burak is certainly not the cheapest experience you will have with Turkish cuisine in Dubai. Still, you are paying for the entertainment and the unrelenting hype surrounding the restaurant and its Insta-famous chef who has already received visits from His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo since opening.
Similarities with Nusr Et, another Turkish chef propelled into the limelight by social media are expected, but CZN Burak’s experience appears to be targeted more towards families. One thing is for sure. You will not leave hungry!