As a kid growing up in Abu Dhabi, one of my most cherished food memories would have to be the sound of the ice-cream truck driving around our neighborhood. There was something about the jingles coming out of the van that enchanted us like hypnotherapy. Only this time, it was feeding our addiction for ice cream, not getting rid of it.
If you were grounded, it would be an excuse to run out and get yourself a popsicle from heaven, because the consequences of an even tougher punishment is just worth the risk. That was as close as we’d come to a food truck back then.
Now that we’ve grown up and traveled the world (or so I’d like to think) , the thought of going somewhere to be surrounded with food trucks in Abu Dhabi is beyond my imagination.
It’s no surprise that burgers are the “end all be all” of trends, even in the Arab world. I don’t want to call them a trend anyway. They are here to stay.
“Salt” is one of the burger joints that is pioneering a food truck movement in the UAE. What interested me most about their campaign, was the level of mystery and interactivity combined in making customers find the truck location via hints on social media through the hashtag #findsalt. That is clever and memorable branding. So when you stumble upon pictures of a retro silver truck turned shack, adorned in light bulbs, and the main star of the show is oozy cheese sliders, all you want to do, is #findsalt.
Luckily, I was in town the day they docked under the Hudayriat bridge at Al Bateen beach in Abu Dhabi. I whatsapped Latifa, my foodie partner in crime and off we went to withstand the humidity for around an hour in queue line.
The place buzzed in excitement, with not only barefoot beach goers in their shorts, but also the local community to whom burgers are all the craze to. From the abaya clad girls who were brave enough to take on the heat, to the ones who would had the luxury of asking their drivers to queue on their behalf, #findsalt surely captured everyone’s curiosity.
With all the parked cars in front of the truck, the place was a big screen short of a movie under the stars outing.
A young Arab rastafarian man, took our orders. Latifa and I could not decide on one thing, so we went for one of everything. We may have been a tad bit excited about the experience, and whilst the service was friendly, what it lacked in cohesiveness, was made up for in the flavour of their dynamite sliders. Juicy beef patties happily tucked between soft pillowy buns, drizzled in generous potions of mildly spiced mayo and slabs of cheddar cheese. Give me more you say?
Of course, it’s not a meal without golden carbs, and our choice were the cheesy Dynamite “Salt” fries, which were fries smothered in a spicy mayo and melted cheese. Although they came out straight from the fryer, the stick thin spuds weren’t warm enough! I’m guessing this was due to the rather generous out-pour of dynamite sauce on top. We sent them
back for another batch, still cold and something about the quality of the fries was too chewy for my liking.
As we navigated our way through the rest of the burgers, the concept of green jalapeno buns and squid ink sliders peeked our curiosity. Since we ordered everything on the menu, somehow all our burgers looked the same. A glitch in service where they forgot to inform us of the unavailability of flavoured buns. But what good is it after it’s all been paid for? Still, we were happy enough to let it slide.
At this point, we shifted our brown bags and headed to the car for round 2 of our foodfest, for the sole reason of savouring the invention of air conditioning as we nommed away. The Cheetos chicken sliders were quite delicious, although my advise to keep the cheetos more crunchy, would be to lessen the mayo sauce and have the burger separate it from the mayo during the layer assembling process. Moving on, we were too stuffed to try the camel sliders, and oddly enough, because the green and black burgers were served to us in regular brown buns, we couldn’t tell which was which! So I thought I’d take it home anyway and have the rest as midnight snacks.
I agree, I have no shame in re-heating burgers when hunger strikes. It was partly the reason we forgot to take pictures of the burgers as well!
Overall, despite the mishaps, I’d still say I enjoyed the experience and I’m very impressed with how the brand engaged the local community. Something that’s very hard to hit jackpot with, when Emiratis are the minority in their own country. We are positive of the brand’s growth and trust that this is nothing more than teething issues for a launched concept that’s only a few months old. I’d recommend trying it, but please, take your patience and smile.
lots of love & yum